Very Good Bad Days

The importance of balance. Of respect. Of family and great friends. Of worship and community and tradition.

A few days ago I was awakened by an earthquake. Then I discovered I had to find a new route home (at much higher cost) because of new US restrictions on bringing laptops on flights. Then I was notified my villa in Ubud had been broken into. For the third time.

So I had breakfast.

Seems like my day was Bad by noon, right?

Not so fast.

Earthquakes happen. As do TSA regulations. And while I seriously didn’t want to stay alone in my Ubud villa anymore, a lesson from living from just one big suitcase is that stuff isn’t that important. But friends sure are.

Kadek, my friend, driver and general “keep Ginny out of too much trouble” person picked me up where I was staying in Sanur in southern Bali. He was still in traditional dress from an important ceremony in his home village way in the North that morning. I’m sure he was already tired, but he took me to Ubud to grab some clean clothes and lock up (not that it matters, obviously) and then drove me to the North. A very long day for a very kind man. My friends Kym and Teja had offered me a place to stay and were busily making other arrangments on my behalf. (Lots of love from social media friends, too. Thank you all.)

Kadek and Kym negotiating rice prices at local market

Teja in my cooking lesson

Kadek and I drove the 2.5 hours from Ubud to Lovina. Over partially washed out roads being sort of repaired by lots of men standing around looking at the damage.

I was feeling grateful and the drive to the North is so beautiful.

In the meantime, Balinese were beginning their annual Melasti ceremonies. See, it’s just a few days before Nyepi, the Balinese Day of Silence and most every village has its own Melasti ceremony. It’s the biggest purification ritual in Bali, generally undertaken by entire villages at the sea, sometimes rivers or lakes.

We passed a a huge procession on the way to Melasti ceremony. I was so busy taking it all in I didn’t even fumble for my camera. Dozens and dozens of bike-zooming men in ceremonial white waving traffic from the road. High-sided trucks full of villagers, musical instruments, and holy items from the temple. Vans stuffed full of families with kids hanging their heads from back windows, grinning as they passed. What’s a camera with such alive-ness, tradition, laughter and beauty moving so quickly by my window? I don’t have photos, but a joyful memory of what had become a very good day.

Then, yesterday, sitting outside of my borrowed villa on a deserted beach in Banjar, Bali. Not generally much action here at all. But then: noise! And suddenly, like out of nowhere, hundreds of people dressed in white and gold appeared in a procession along the beach to the Banjar Melasti ceremony.

On and on and on they came. Graceful women with offerings on their heads. People walking and texting. Little boys dashing about. Some selfie action. Men carrying items from the temple. Musical instruments. More offerings. Balloons. One guy in military camo talking on his phone. (Still haven’t figured that one out.)

Pecalang dudes in traditional black and white checks wearing daggers.

On the way to Melasti ceremony

Beach procession

Dagger Dude

Capture the moment

Camo not so camo in a Melasti procession

I grabbed my phone and flip flops and followed the procession up the beach. The atmosphere was carnival. The piles of offerings were filled with flowers and rice, eggs, incense, sweets, and, oddly, a cigarette.


People sat in the sand or on low walls like birds on a wire. Or squatted next to the musicians to watch the intricate interplay of their instruments. The music was mesmerizing. The company was generous and welcoming. The waves were gentle on the shore. The experience of such communal spirit for the purpose of Spirit.

The importance of balance. Of respect. Of family and great friends. Of worship and community and tradition.

This is what makes bad days into very good days.

Improvisation also helps:

Drinks cooler at Melasti ceremony

NOTE: This post was delayed because I had to fly back to USA for family emergency. The Big Suitcase may no longer be in Bali, but there are a couple more posts to come!

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Showing 6 comments
  • Penni

    Hi Ginny. Wow! What a time you’ve had here in Bali. The crazy balance of life! Sooo glad Kadeks been there for you😍

  • Kathy

    Ginny….so worried for you. How can we help? What is the emergency? Call me.

  • Karen

    I am mesmerized by your adventures. MESMERIZED.

    Much love to you, friend. Hoping your family emergency resolves itself in the best possible way.

  • Kym

    A beautiful lady, inspirational, strength and I am honored to have spent many precious moments with you x

  • Wendi

    Amazing. Love reading everything you write.

    • Ginny Wolfe

      Thanks, Wendi!

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