In the town of Ubud yesterday, my friend and I ordered an avocado juice in a local cafe. We sat on the plush couch, sipping the creamy green treat, delighted by the flavor and texture as if we had never eaten before.
We had just experienced the Monkey Forest and walked shop to shop in search of beaded, carved or other unique gifts made by local artisans. Everybody in Bali smiles, including the shopkeepers who are more than happy to barter and negotiate every single price.
Our driver, Marty, told me that in the Hindu religion, there is a mandate to smile every day, just as there is a mandate to meditate each morning.
At Soulshine Resort, where we are staying, every meal is an explosion of flavor and texture. There are leafy greens and beans and tomatoes and carrots, creamy pumpkin soup with ginger, a salad dressing made of parsley and cashew. Even the bread is served with homemade strawberry, pineapple and papaya jams thin and fresh, made just yesterday by lovely local women.
Nothing is laden with refined sugar and this is the farthest you can get from high fructose corn syrup.
The thing about Bali that is most remarkable to me (and there are many) is how REAL everything is. Beneath the massage table on Sunday, there were flower petals in a bowl rather than a bottled scent, and the poolside menu consists of fresh juices and smoothies.
Why do we define progress as moving away from the source?
There’s no packaged food here and those that you find in the towns carry ingredient labels of familiar names, not unpronouncable, unidentifiable chemicals. The streets are narrow and clogged with fast drivers, the villages are tight, and still no one is running, racing, rushing to check items off a list or get from point A to point Z while texting, calling and otherwise multitasking.
They begin each day with drumming and chanting and end each day the same way.
It is a religious mandate to smile.
Seems to me that the underside of the world has it just right, whereas we in the arrogant cities are fattened on the illusion of progress.