I’m so sorry for the unannounced blog hiatus but trust me when I say it was necessary!
November has turned out to be a pretty crazy month but I guess I knew it would be. My mum came out to visit a few days after Maya’s birthday, was here for three weeks and now my dad is here. On top of visitors and checking out preschools for Maya and more illness on my part (bronchitis this time – this year has sucked health wise) we also moved house and you can imagine what an upheaval that’s been.
We’ve been toying with the idea of getting our own place for a while but in the last 6 months or so I actually started to feel like I would go crazy if something didn’t change. I’ve lived in the family compound with Made’s parents in the middle of a traditional village since we got married (4 years this month!) and while they’re lovely, the strain of communal living was beginning to take its toll.
It’s traditional in Bali for the wife to move in with the husband’s family after marriage and stay there. Extended families live together sharing responsibilities, child rearing and pretty much anything else. Coming from an independent lifestyle in a reserved Western country, where I’d been used to living by myself… i guess it was a little optimistic to think that I’d slot right into this lifestyle.
Yet slot in I did and we’ve never really had any major problems. While i love ranting about my in-laws as much as the next person, the fact is that they’ve always done a lot for me and treated me really well. My mother in law in particular is practically a saint. Getting our own place was always an option but when the kids were so small all the extra help was handy and as I didn’t work for so long, we were on a super-tight budget.
We built our own house the same year that Maya was born but quickly decided it would make more financial sense to rent it out to tourists, at least for a few years to make back some of our building costs. That house currently provides around half our income, so losing that would be a big problem.
Yet in the last couple of years tensions have been running high and arguments have been common. There’s a certain expectation of the way life should be in traditional Bali and the fact that I don’t always conform to it has caused some issues
Then Made brought up the idea of renting another house if we could find something cheap – somewhere where I could have my own space and feel free of the oppression of the village (I never really fitted into village life and there’s very little to do there without transport).
About a month ago he found a house just down the road from our little wooden house that we rent out. Placed ideally for me to check guests in and out and within walking distance from Ubud, it’s also surrounded by rice fields and in an area where there are a lot of young families.
The place was filthy and needed a lot of fixing up – there was no railing on the stairs and the whole place was (still is) in need of a good paint. But the price was just within our budget and most importantly it offered the space and the location we needed.
So a week or two ago we moved in and we’re slowly settling in. Paying for a year’s worth of rent in one go pretty much wiped me out and we have practically no furniture. The place has its quirks (like the bathroom sink being in the kitchen instead of the bathroom) and the kitchen is tiny with no storage space, but the house is just the right size for us (with room to expand!) and the location is perfect.
I’m already so happy here – every night we sleep to the sounds of frogs and crickets in the rice fields and feel cool breezes all day. The kids get to wander the rice field paths in the morning chasing ducks and making dens in the garden. Maya is thrilled that she can wander down the road to our other house (where grandad is staying) in 2 minutes. The house is full of light and upstairs we have two huge rooms that we haven’t even figured out what we’re doing with yet (maybe my dream playing and learning space will come true after all).
I’m looking forward to sharing some pieces of our new space and our new days with you soon. In the meantime please bear with me as I catch up on work and decorating and nursing a popped/cracked/sprained rib. Since we moved here it’s like a huge weight has been lifted from us. Here’s to good changes!