Two more weeks in Lovina. The big excitement was a somewhat brief visit from Mark’s brother Pat and his wife Jenny. It’s a long way from Monroe, MI, but if it’s winter there and we have a big villa with a private pool just waiting, why not come over?
It was a great visit (as were their visits in Bangkok and Marrakech). The crazy part was that while the weather had been mixed before they came – plenty of sun, some rain, a couple of big downpours – once they got here it was just constant overcast and rain. Never a speck of the sun you come to Bali for.
Still, it was fun showing them around our Lovina. A day trip back up into the hills for lunch back in Munduk where, instead of wandering around the beautiful grounds, we huddled out of the rain. A trip to the Secret Garden for dinner, lunches at Jasmine Kitchen (our Thai favorite), and of course My Greek Taverna. Given how big the villa is, it seemed crazy that just Mark & I would hang out there all the time, so we were pretty eager to have Pat & Jenny join us. And, having traveled nearly 20 years ago in Bali with Mark’s brother John and his wife Alma, that leaves just sister Jeanne & Jamal as the Sullivan sibs we need to travel the island with.
Four weeks was a long time, and Lovina is a distinctly quiet part of Bali. There’s really not a lot to do. But still, there is something magical about the place. Mark tells me that Bali is the only place on earth where the primary religion teaches that the afterlife is, well, pretty much just like this. People are certainly poor – we see people working out in the rice fields not vastly different from how they worked many years ago, and we can only imagine how little the voluminous staff make in restaurants that charge us practically nothing for great meals – but … but. Everyone smiles. Maybe I’m just kidding myself, but it sure seems as though it’s a place where people are just basically happy.
And it’s worth noting it’s not just because the beaches are great. You may have noticed that there are no pictures of beaches here. I don’t know what the beach is like the rest of the year, but during the rainy season it’s really pretty crappy. Not just because it’s cloudy; the water is an ugly brown from all the stuff that runs off the hills day and night. Contrary to common assumptions, Bali really isn’t all about beaches or – at this time of year – about beaches at all.
Once Pat & Jenny pulled out the sun came back. Literally. They left one afternoon and that night walking to dinner we could see the clouds breaking up. The next morning was mostly sunny so it was back to the hanging out in the pool. I did a little meal prep – salads and such for lunch, even appetizers for cocktail hour. Mark spent his time obsessing over his online language lessons: a little bit of Spanish, Russian, and Italian, and more intensely Chinese. I spent my non-reading time (a biography of Hirohito in anticipation of our upcoming Japan travels) obsessing over finding an apartment to buy in Paris. We’re still a couple years away from wanting something that settled, but we’re starting to imagine it.
After four weeks we were ready to leave Lovina, but not Bali yet. From here we’re going down to Nusa Dua, the very upscale resort area in the southern part of the island. And after that we’ve got eight nights in another villa, this time in Seminyak, the upscale residential area not far from Nusa Dua. Basically we’re skeptical we want to come back to Lovina for a month but want to see if the more populated and “happening” Seminyak would work. We’ll see.