He tried to protect me, he really did, so as not to share his cold. However husbands, travel and germs being what they are, I'm in Bali at the Lily Lane Villas, just outside of Ubud proper, with a scratchy throat and extreme exhaustion. Water, water, and more water. Green tea. Sleep.
But hunger, and a clammy sweat wake me at lunch time. My bedroom is dark, thanks to drapes, but heat beats through them, unrelenting. The sort of heat that soaks past the skin without burning, and sinks into bone and fat, making me both lethargic and wretched. All this despite the air con turned down to 18 degrees Celsius.
Oh body, isn’t it `starve a cold'? Yes, says the belly, but it’s feed a fever, and look, we have both. I shower in cool water. My shower is open air, with plants at one end getting a good misting of salty water as I sluice away sweat. I feel sorry for the plants further along the bathroom that don’t get this treat, and try to throw handfuls of water their way. The result is a wet towel.
I dress as lightly as I can, and wander out into the lounge area, which is shared with another villa. We have our own private small pool, and a statue of Buddha reclines along one edge.
I sit on the brown couch with a glass of water. Gone. Another glass, and another glass, and then half a bottle of sports drink. Green tea cooled down with ice cubes.
The belly says this is not enough.
Thank the gods for delivery service. For $6.50 AUD I have a lunch of grilled fish, salad, and a few chips. I wolf it down, all watched by a slit-eyed Buddha, who does not approve of my table manners. I glance down. I have coconut oil spatters on my singlet.
I wash the singlet and put on another. My third of the day, as I got egg on the first one at breakfast.
Yesterday, my oracle cards said ‘Stillness’ and ‘Slow Down’. Perhaps this applies to eating, too. I test this idea in my mind. Eat slowly? But the food is right there, and there are always books to read, and things to write, and oracle cards to play with, and the pool to swim in, and that giant bee insect thing to wave away.
I take a breath, feeling how dry my nostrils are, and have no doubt that they won’t be for much longer. That awful, dry, half-stinging feeling will pass, and the flood of yuck arrives.
I down a couple of essential oil tablets – oregano, thyme, lemon, orange, ginger, coriander. A nice warming blend, which isn’t exactly what I need here in Bali, but I will burn these germs out of me. Begone, I have writing to complete, and touristy things to do. Half a day spent wandering the shopping area of Ubud is not my idea of touring. There’s the volcano to visit, the sacred waters, rice paddies, and all those things in the Lonely Planet guide, and, if I’m honest, a wee bit of ‘Eat Pray Love’ to emulate. I too wish to mediate, even in my liver.
Belly full, and thirst sated for the next five minutes, I retreat to the couch. How strange to be writing of suburban Carrum Downs, Melbourne in 1989, evoking that time and place in my life, when I’m here in Bali surrounded by rich green leaves and trees, a balmy breeze relieving the thick air. I hear chickens carrying on as though coaching each other to lay bigger eggs.
I write about a far off, bitterly cold Carrum Downs day, when the wind was so fierce it blew a fully grown boxer dog down the street.
I have to close my eyes, and feel, in the bone memory of my body, that younger self, not yet a wife or mother, sitting in an orange beanbag, writing a short story, and kidding herself that any time now, she’ll transform into the sort of person who gets a worthwhile, full time job in the big city, and wears grey skirts and high heels. I even look through the local papers for jobs I don’t want, and have no intention of getting.
All, so I can truthfully tell the world that I’m looking for work.
Photo: Bali Buddha - Bali, Indonesia _ Amy Lenzo