Culture Shock: On Arrival in New Mexico

Back in spacious New Mexico. 

5 months backpacking through Southeast Asia. 

But the worst case of culture shock hit me on returning home.  
Everything looked strange! 

So empty! 

Where were the street vendors? 
The small shops? 

The tuk-tuks? 
No trolling taxis? 

The noise?

The roads seemed so spacious. 
The countryside uncomfortably wide. 

Everything so brown and dusty. 

It was very unsettling. 

Even though I should be used to this feeling by now, it still hits me. 

New map! About a month each: Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia. 

Food tasted weird. 
Coffee. Even wine! 

Even New Mexico's famous green chile!

(Ok, green chile tasted good after a couple of days.) 

During the last week or two of this trip, I was ready to come home. 

Five months of traveling and making plans as we went.
It was harder than I'd anticipated. 

Incredibly cool, definitely. 

But t
raveling full time can be hard work.
Things certainly go wrong on a regular basis.  

Vietnamese fishing nets in the Mekong Delta.

After a few days of weirdness back in New Mexico, it began to feel good. 

It was spring! 
Green - well, kind of green. 
It's still a desert. 

And cool. Especially compared to southeast Asia.

Perfect timing. 

The garden was just beginning to bloom and grow. 
As the weeks passed, the rhythms and routines of New Mexico became normal again. 

It's good to be here.

"12 Things on a Tuesday" - Garden Life at Guadalupe Trail

I told someone - we're "letting our souls catch up with us" after this trip. 

Digesting the experiences. 
Appreciating all the abundance here. 

Toads, roadrunners, dragonflies. 
The dry sunny weather. 

Green chile enchiladas. 

And - so much SPACE. 
And - quiet.

Inle Lake, Myanmar. Sunset after a day fishing. And they'll row the boats home with their feet.  

I've been drawing a lot. 

Monks and markets. 
Boats and Buddhas. 

Temples and tuk-tuks. 

There are a million things to draw, now that there's so much time. 
Each drawing brings back memories. 

(And it's so easy to forget - how hot it was in Asia at times!)

Market women in Cambodia, selling fish. Fishermen on the U Bein teak bridge in Myanmar.

You can see all the recent paintings here:  

And if you click on a picture individually - there's a little explanation.  

Diving at Komodo National Park, Indonesia. Manta rays below water, Komodo dragons above.

Where to next? 
Not sure. 

For the moment, there are morning glories to train. 
Snails to chase. 

Walks to take and wine to drink. 
Bicycles to the local Growers' Market. 

And there's a toad who has to be rescued every morning from the pool and relocated to a safer pond. 

Time to chill.

I only have about 3500 more photos that I'd really LOVE to draw.

Stories about Indonesia. 
Komodo dragons. 

Living on a deserted island. 

Sailing through the Mekong Delta. 

All in good time. 

Thanks for following on the journey with us! 

On Motorbikes in Bali

It's true what they say about Bali. 
In spite of its popularity - there's something gentle and special about the place. 

They built the airport in 1960. 

Although tourism arguably started back in the 1600's, 
the airport still had a major impact. 

And - yet... 

We saw no beaches. 
No resorts. No hotels. 

Not many tourists.

We stayed in a traditional old house “Rumah Antik” in a Balinese village.
Sembuwuk, with a lovely Balinese family.

When we went out for a walk in the village, 
people stopped to ask where we were from. 
Where we were staying. 

They’re very curious. 

Everyone knows everyone else.

The white on the roads is the remains of the sheets of drying rice. Stan waits for me at the bottom of the village.

Gardens are filled with little shrines.
Each is dedicated to a different manifestation of a particular deity.

In fact, some gardens are quite crowded with shrines.
Full of local and ancestral gods.

You'd hate to offend a deity who might be helpful.

We rented motorbikes. Our host Gusti brought them to the garden. 
We set off through the rice fields and villages to explore the countryside.
We stopped for lunch along the way.

We weren't even sure if it was a restaurant. 
They grew vegetables and fruits. 

They didn’t speak English, but the food was delicious.

Bali has splendid natural beauty. 

Volcanoes and rice terraces. 

Spice farms and coffee plantations.

Foggy calderas and torrential rainstorms.

Waterfalls, caves, stone carvings and gargoyles. 
Incense, painted ceilings and calligraphy. 

Rice drying on narrow roads. 

Huge forests of bamboo, filled with colorful butterflies.

The frequent favorite - Ganesh.

Yes, we spent a morning in Ubud, with its Serenity Spas and Yoga Barns and Meditation Centers and chic boutique hotels and upscale shops and motorcycles and traffic and tourists and cafes and restaurants and guys holding “Taxi” signs and it’s all quite noisy and crowded. 

Luckily, we first went the wrong way, and walked through a local part of town, which was quite enjoyable. We visited temples and museums and had the necessary de-tox fruit shakes, but after lunch, I was ready to leave.

For me, Bali was offerings, towering fruit plates on women's heads. 

Small banana leaves with sticky rice in front of every home, shop or statue.

This offering was found on a wooden footbridge. To appease the trolls? 

Often, the streets were filled with processions.

Lots of drums and special clothing. 

Festivities, long skinny villages with thousands of hanging penjors.

A lot of islands have good beaches - but - not many have this. 

Women in handmade ikat sarongs with colorful sashes. 
Men in long skirts, with small pointed hats. 

We were also required to wear a sash entering holy places.

Penjors - made of braided palm leaves - line every street.

There are 4 castes in Bali - people's names often denote their caste. 
Or their position in the family, regardless of gender.

 "Wayan" means first born.

There are names for first, second, third and fourth born. 

If there is a fifth child, he or she is called Wayan Balik, or Wayan Again!

There are no last names, but everyone gets a new name after they die.

Our host, Gusti Made - "Second-born leader of Wasya caste".  And Stan.

In the afternoons, it RAINED.
Not like New Mexico.

In 30 seconds, drenched.

On motorcycles?
VERY drenched.

After visiting a number of other islands in Indonesia, we returned briefly to Bali on our way north. The second time, we rented yet another beautiful villa, nearer town. It was CRAZY beautiful, so we barely left home.

Very welcome after some of the more primitive places we've stayed in on other islands. 

We TOTALLY enjoyed the luxury. 

Bali is a Hindu island. 
It's different. 

Most Indonesian islands are Moslem. 

No sticky rice offerings. 
No decorations or temples. 
No colorful towers of fruit on women's heads.

We never even SAW one of the famous Bali beaches.

At a civet cat coffee farm in the highlands. 

So - our Bali Experience may have been unusual.

Still - that's okay.
I wouldn't have changed it.