Apparently even paradise has off days. When I wrote earlier that “it only rains a little” I should have added “…until it rains a lot.” We were out to lunch a couple days ago and when we left to go home you could tell it was going to rain. A lot. I still decided to go a bit out of the way to the liquor store, since there are priorities. Mark got home just as it started raining but I got caught in a torrential downpour. I figured the worst that could happen was that I’d get soaked, right?
Well. I got home, it was pouring, I showered, and was just lying down reading when Mark told me to come outside: our grounds were flooding. He told me to look in back where water was coming in through a couple gaps in the cement wall separating us from the neighboring properties. Just as I got there I heard a crash and saw the brick wall collapse. And then the water just swamped our heavenly pool area, the rest of the grounds, and then came running into the house.
Within minutes (seconds?) we had the runoff from thousands of acres up in the hills in our once-pristine pool. Two hours before I’d found it disturbing if a leaf dropped in the pool to ruin the perfection. Now it looked more like a septic tank. We learned later that a little stream nearby had backed up because there was so much trash in it, then when it broke through it just overwhelmed everything. We learned, too, that it was the third time in just a few years that it’s happened. And thus our little slice of heaven was distinctly no longer heavenly.
The good news is that the local property managers did a fabulous job cleaning it up. They were over in just a little while and quickly arranged for us to stay in a neighboring villa that was unoccupied. They started the cleanup before it had even completely stopped raining. We were stunned the next morning to discover that the house was again habitable, though it would take days to drain and refill the pool. We couldn’t say enough good things about how quickly they turned things around.
One upside to all the trauma was that I’d been curious what other villas in the area were like, and we got to see. Staying just one night in the substitute villa made us so happy to get back to Villa Padma. The other place was just a couple buildings away, and sure, it had a nice pool and all that. But my God, the difference between this place, with all its great outdoor space, right on the edge of the rice fields, and a house with just no personality at all couldn’t have been greater. I guess there’s a reason Mark spends so much time doing research before we pick a place to stay.
Another upside was that, since the pool would be unavailable for several days, we took the opportunity to go back to Munduk, a little town a bit inland from here, where we’d stayed at a really beautiful little resort nearly three years ago. Sanak (the Munduk resort) has been this iconic little retreat in my memory ever since, so the flooding was a perfect excuse to pack overnight bags, toss them on our little scooters we’re renting, and go riding up the hills. The hour-long ride itself was half the joy, with gorgeous views across valleys and terraced rice fields. And then a long afternoon and morning the next day in another slice of heaven. You gotta love Bali.
Now just a couple days later life is nearly back to normal. The pool is full again and later today it should be ready for us. It will take a while – weeks, presumably – for the landscaping to recover fully, but this is a great place even if it’s not quite as perfect as it was two weeks ago.
Otherwise the big highlight of our second week here was a visit from Tamara, a free-spirited woman who loves traveling as much as we do, whom we met in Bali nearly three years ago. We’ve stayed in touch on Facebook and, the day we got here, Mark saw that she was back, too, staying in a writer’s colony in Ubud. We invited her up for the weekend and had a fabulous time eating, drinking, and getting to know her better. A lovely woman and a great visit, so now we’re scoping out our next opportunity to meet up with her. Somewhere in the world.
As of today we’re just over half way through our four-week stay at Villa Padma. I’d worried that I would get bored in a small place like this. So far? Not a problem, especially if the weeks are broken up by periodic natural disasters.
The other big news is that with all the time we have, we’ve figured out how to fill the time between Bali and Japan in early April. Mark learned online that apparently – apparently – we can get visas for China in Bangkok. So we’re going to Bangkok and then, assuming we get visas, we’re going to spend three weeks in Yunnan Province in southwestern China. That was the goal two years ago when Mark’s knee problems (and the earthquake in Tibet) screwed up our plans. With much of it mountainous, Yunnan is supposed to have great hiking and a beautiful Tibetan culture so we’re pretty excited about our little upcoming Yunnan vacation.