There is such sadness at my home-stay today as news reaches me that my family’s nephew was killed in a motorbike accident early this morning. I awoke today with an unusual silence downstairs and almost a knowing that something had changed. They are quiet today, in mourning, but I hear the occasional laughter and I know that they are remembering the humour, beauty and qualities of this wonderful young man. I offer my condolences and as I look into their eyes I see the pain and heartbreak that they are feeling, that will surround them for some time to come. I am invited to the cremation which will be held later in the week, on the beach. As sad as this will be it will also be colourful, it will be inspiring and it will be a wonderfully memorable day when his ashes will be released into the sea, to be free again, to live with the gods.
Home-stay living….it is how I choose to live in Bali. As a single older female I love the security and comfort it gives me, I love the family that I live with and I love the traditions and ceremonies that I get to be apart of. This is my true Bali, a life I have looked so long for and it gives me a home, a family and a simple life here.
So what is a home-stay? My home-stay is in the heart of Sanur. It is quite simply two or more traditional Balinese houses with an outdoor kitchen and a gathering area where all the family socialize and live daily. They call it, here, a compound which is well secured by fences or walls. Home stay rooms are a separate dwelling, on the property so you are not living in their family home. In the family houses, the mother and father live in one, and the sons or son live in the other house/s. The tradition is that the son stays with the family and when they marry, their wife comes to the compound and their children will be raised here. If they had a daughter she would go to her husband’s family compound.
In my home-stay they have built nine rooms around a beautiful garden. I am so very lucky to have the lovely studio room above my family’s house. It comes with an outdoor balcony which has become the “heart” of my home-stay. Guests come and go just like a hotel and you can choose to be as solitary as you want or join in all the daily offerings and activities. It truly offers you an insight into the traditional Balinese way of life. Home stay rooms normally start around $15 per day. Weekly, monthly and yearly rates are offered at much cheaper rates.
My family has two sons who live here with their wives, both have two children, so it is always busy, amusing, and sometimes a little crazy. Mostly it’s the laughter, the silence, when all are sleeping, and the smells of the nasi goreng cooking, that make this place feel like my home. It comes with WiFi, hot water, breakfast and cleaning once a week. What more could you ask for? I was also lucky enough to be given a bicycle, from my family, and am always out exploring Sanur gangs (alleyways) and finding new locations to photograph.
I have been with this family for 4 years now and they are truly such giving, loving people. When I had Dengue Fever last year they took great care of me and worried for me as they would their own. They spoil me with little treats, day trips to temples and food daily. They have worked hard for what they have and they still work hard to keep it. It is so humbling living here. I often buy them treats for birthdays but they are very shy about accepting too much. I have learnt their way and I too understand the practice of “giving” even if it is only a little.
My life here is extremely simple. I can easily live on $10 a day and I live very, very well. From sunrise to sunset I am always exploring this lovely beach side town, of Sanur, and all that it offers. I do not take any days here for granted as I am blessed to be living this life in beautiful Bali, on a shoestring, but feeling a richness that no money can buy!
As the afternoon breeze catches me on my balcony news from below slowly drifts upstairs and I am told the cremation will be on Sunday 25th June. I feel the sadness in the compound today and I am left unprepared for my tears that are now slowly falling. How does one show comfort, love and understanding under these circumstances. I have no words to make them feel better but I will offer my support on Sunday and hope that it will show my family that I stand with them in their grief, that I will hug them when they need me and I will love them as they have loved me. It will be a day to say goodbye but their strong belief in reincarnation will have them welcoming him home again in the very near future. Beautiful Bali Life!!!!
Simply Bali Rae