You cannot have a speed limit when you’re sharing the road with a moped carrying a family of four, a goat, a truck of chickens, 2 boys on bicycles, 25 motorbikes going in every possible direction, a semi carrying furniture with its flashers on and a man walking uphill in his bare feet with a bundle of bamboo on his head. You just cannot. But sometimes you have to surrender and have faith, which isn't always easy when you're a mother. The experiences that wouldn't affect you in the past take on a new meaning now that you have a life to watch over.
Today we drove from the south of Bali to the north. Our driver was fierce and confident. He’s made this drive a few times, over the mountains of Bali, swooping through rice fields, flying past coffee bushes and cocoa trees. I held my breath many times. I find myself doing that a lot during our transport on this trip.
These mountain towns are small, with clove leaves drying on blankets next to the main road, and children standing naked at the front of their parents’ shops. The glorious rice paddies go on for miles, but after witnessing the process of tilling and planting these fields, it’s shocking that we have such an abundance of rice in our lives. It’s a laborious task.
Mangoes, cocoa, coffee beans, clove, pineapples, durian - these orchards are amazing. And the terraced, geometric splendor of the rice fields, with the skinny reeds sticking straight up, the tanned workers trudging through the muddy depths, it’s all so impressive. I saw a man rototill straight through 2 feet of water.
And scattered throughout the small towns the smell of incense emanates and smoke wafts across the chaotic road. I asked our driver what was burning. He gave me a confused look and said, “At the altar.” The Hindu religion is an amazing one, and it is everywhere in Bali - the temples, the altars, the daily rituals at morning and night. It is such a beautiful religion to get a glimpse of.
But these roads…
Sometimes all you can do is close your eyes and hold your baby tight.