Thursday, July 23, 2009

Don't Leave Home Without One...

The island paradise of Bali – Island of the Gods -- is all it’s cracked up to be and so much more. The country is literally a big piece of art, made up of thousands of little pieces of art. A flower tucked here or there, a tranquil pond of lotuses, elaborated caved and painted double doors into private compounds, a patterned pavement of beautifully composed stones... Even the people move in a way so graceful it makes Westerners look like Clydesdales.

One of the more charming traditions my husband and I discovered as we stepped into our first Balinese car -- this includes airport taxis or the hotel shuttles -- is the custom of placing a fresh ‘offering’ on the dashboard of the vehicle as a prelude to any trip, thereby ensuring the Gods will provide a safe journey.

Bali’s transportation motto could be, “don’t leave home without one.”

The easiest way to get around Bali is to hire a driver – so inexpensive it’s cheaper than hiring a car and more convenient then trying to figure out the dizzying array of narrow unmarked roads. So before any trip, each driver would catch the attention of one of the many women walking the sidewalks and roads with a tray of offerings – small woven bamboo trays with some flowers, greenery, a few grains of rice and a stick or two of incense – and call her over. Chanting softly, she would gracefully sprinkle holy water on the offering after which the driver would carefully place it on the dashboard. Only then could we go.

We got so used to this custom in the month we spent there, that to this day neither of us gets into a vehicle without saying “offering on the dashboard.” Neither of us has been in an accident...

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