Monday, June 29, 2009
I wanted all flowers to be modern, linear, no-nonsens, one-color....except for my bouquet which fitted better with my dress if it was round. (I had expected to choose a sober linear straight dress , but when trying them all on I fell in love with a much bigger, more decorated, more romantic dress I had ever anticipated...hehe). In every floral piece at every location were white calla lilys as a returning theme.
All floral credits go to Verde, a Leuven florist at the Kapucijnenvoer!! He did a way better job than I had even hoped :)
First we had our civil marriage ceremony in the gothic townhall of Leuven. You have to wait in a side gallery of the building while the previous ceremony is going on at the other side of the window. They were running late on schedule so the previous couple only got in when we arrived. At the moment the wedding was pronounced and we heard the applause we were tempted for a second to knock on the window and wave extensively and give them thumbs up or something....but we behaved and didn't disturb their moment :p.
The ceremony was as expected not much special: reading out loud of the law texts concerning marriage, a few questions to be answered with yes and a little speech to congratulate us.
As to answer your questions: we didn't get married by the well-known mayor Tobback. He married the couple before and after us. I guess he was alternating with is CD&V alderman colleague ...it was the day before the elections :). He was standing outside the hall though and congratulated us when we walked out.
After the ceremony you get to walk out at the big staircase in front of the townhall leading to the big market square showing off to all the tourists :p
Sunday, June 28, 2009
One evening I was opening one of the 3 sliding doors of our wardrobe closet only to realise just in time that I was about to put my hand on one of these little fellows that were everywhere outside...but now clearly inside our room. Of course the sneaky monster had already disappeared in between the open doors and kept running around on the door while we found no way to catch it and lead it outside. The lizard didn't scare me but I didn't like the idea of going to bed while it was snuffing trough my clothes either.
So Jan called the reception to ask whether there was a good way to catch the animal. They'd send someone. An instant later there was a knock on the door and we were showing the man where we'd last seen the lizard in between the closet doors. After some sliding back and forth, there it was all of a sudden indeed on the middle of the door.
"whoaa....ok now we've located the animal I have to phone a colleague to have it removed. I'm to scared to touch the animals." he said while he looked ever more nervous.
Dugh, as if the lizard was going to sit and wait. Sure enough the lizard hunt could start over when the colleague arrived and in the end we all gave up and said it really didn't matter anymore. We all convinced ourself that the lizard that now was sitting outside our front door was the same one as had been in the closet. We wisely didn't declare any meat at the airport security either ;).
We had a cooking workshop in the middle of the rice fields in which the essential herbs for Balinese cooking got explained for their culinary value but also for their medical value. So we learned that a basic ingredient for the original (iso)bethadine is turmeric and that "Bali belly" gets cured by some freshly grounded turmeric that needs to rest for several hours in your belly button. This also forces the Balinese suffering from digestion problems to lay down and rest for a while, whereas the busy westerns resort to a quick pill as they need to move on right away.
A thin slice of ginger can be stuck against your temples as an aid against headache and stress. If it sticks, you need it....when it drops down you don't need it anymore, which got demonstrated by the cooks that were running around with their ginger slices most of the morning :p.
The Balinese are very very helpful. Somehow I had gotten a scratch on my knee when we arrived in the airport at Denpensar: a tiny scratch that was bleeding a bit. I only noticed in the car and when arriving at the hotel I happened to point out with a small gesture to Jan that I had scratched myself. The receptionist had noticed and before we could even check-in, he had to carry on the big first aid box. No use telling over and over that it was a silly little scratch: I had to get some desinfectant on it and then he stuck a cottonball to it (dugh...but I didn't dare to protest anymore) . The day we left Bali, the taxidriver that had driven us upon our arrival 2 weeks before, enquired whether my knee had healed well!
Both Jan and I thought simultaneously that we should never tell which surgical wound wasn't yet 100% cured :p
After one week my digestion started to play up and when I had cancelled my ordered meal and left Jan behind in the restaurant to go and rest in our room, some room service was immediately sent : black tea with sugar, dry toast, fresh turmeric juice to drink for the stomac ....oh yes and some freshly grounded turmeric to put in my belly button. Hey why not, I figured....
I had the yellow bellybutton and yellow fingers to prove it the next days!
The main religion in Bali is a local interpretation of Hinduism.
It's hard to distinguish houses from temples in Bali: every village had 3 temples which are walled complexes with multiple "bale's", roofed open-air platforms for multiple functions, shrines and entry gates. A traditional house is also a walled complex with some closed and open-air structures, a house temple, 3 shrines, .... Every rice field has a shrine for the rice godess Sri. Besides that all objects and nature (big trees, ...) are "holy" and are draped with cloths and are decorated with colorful embrella's to symbolise this. Needless to say that everything starts looking like a temple!
A couple of times per day people bring little offer baskets to the shrines and to the temples (or simply in front of the houses at the sidewalks so you need to step over them constantly and risk hurting your toes by a burning incence stick, amidst the hotel tables in the middle of the breakfast service, ....) and the communities have big ceremonies for many many occasions. Truly this is the land of gods!
The Balinese believe Bali is an island carried on the back of a giant turtle in the sea. We did a lot of diving but haven't seen it's head or paws though. We did see other turtles, reeftip sharks, frogfish, lionfish, stingrays, murrays, cuddlefish, octopus, squid, crocodilefish, .....and had the joy of hanging beneath some manta rays for 45 minutes!!!! Oh yes
The water was still too warm (26C- 31 C!!!!) to see any of the rare spectacular Mola Mola's.
The Gods get very angry every 5 to 10 years and send rats to the rice fields. In the mean time it had been already quite a while since they had been angry. Nevertheless the guy with the big gun we met on an evening walk through the fields claimed to be hunting rats.
Diving on vacation is fun since all your material is usually taken care of by the dive center. In Tulamben (village where the SS Liberty sunk) the side assistance is nevertheless spectacular! The village has a cooperation setup to cater for all the divers coming in. There's a big parking with showers and toilets where you need to pay for an entry fee and then the women of the village, the "porter's of Tulamben" move all your stuff to the beach and back.
We actually had the feeling that community life is still very very strong in Bali also on the countryside where still a lot of young people seem to reside and work in agriculture. There seems to be different cooperations going that share benefits for progress for the entire community. Whereas the people are surely not rich and don't have all the western comfort we are used to in their homes, we have not seen beggers and people in big misery by poverty.
At one time we went diving and the boat was about to leave when the crew got all agitated. They were pointing at a jellyfish swimming by. Much to our surprise they jumped in the water with a bucket and caught the jellyfish. Hmm quite against diving etiquette to catch fish so we enquired why they did so. Turns out this jellyfish was very rare and always holds a special rare type of fish tangled up: the jellyfish was the crown of the little fish and they needed it for special temple ceremonies. Sure enough when we got back, the 2 of them got seperated and the jellyfish was released in the water again while the fish itself was taken on shore.
cool, we had a boat ride with a holy fish and its crown :).
In our hotel in Ubud they advised us not to dry clothes outside in the garden/balcony. After having seen the local troup of Macaque fleeing themselves on some of the balconies, I think I understand why :p. We have not seen any monkey in a tree with a bikini on its head though....Bummer huh.
Each afternoon they seemed to make their way along the marvelous swimming pool (picture here). I learned the hard way that keeping a distance of 4 m to take pictures, like the other people were doing isn't always enough. When I all of a sudden realised 2 of them were no longer minding their own business next to their tree but were staring directly into my eyes, I backed-up to give them some more space....but they are damned quick. Before I had gotten up 2 stairs, I got a fright by feeling one of them on my leg. Fortunately some Swiss next to me were screaming at them and gesturing vividly (I do blame them for causing the attack in the first place though) so they were off my leg immediately as well though without scratches or bites. Pheww. That gave me quite a fright. The next days the little bastards walked behind my chair again and were posing extensively at 2 m from my chair for a row of excited tourists in the pool but I wasn't getting up for them anymore. I did keep a close eye on them though. Poooh.
After the big volcano eruption in '63, all of the rice production was lost. Balinese rice is full of gluten and sticky and takes 6 months to ripe. At that moment the government has imported quickly a different type of rice grown elsewhere in Indonesia which holds lesss gluten and needs 3 months to ripen. In the mean time Bali no longer needs to import anything anymore and this "government rice" is still the main type grown and sold everywhere. Balinese rice still used for special dishes and ceremonies is a lot more expensive than the government rice.
Friday, June 26, 2009
In the Belgian tradition the bride sleeps at her parent's house (quite obvious in the past when the couple wasn't usually living together yet before the wedding, but less and less obvious in the current society and therefore a bit of a disappearing tradition in its strict sense). and the groom and his parents and siblings in the "suite" arrive at her house to pick her up. Since my parents live 100 km from the wedding locations that wasn't quite so practical to do. But since Jan's foreign colleagues were already arriving the day before the wedding and were staying in the hotel next to the wedding venue, Jan had booked a room there. On Friday we all went out for dinner and drinks with my Canadian host parents who had arrived and his collleagues and then he left me home alone with one of my best friends.
After a night without much sleep our alarm went off quite early to get us going for make-up and hairdresser appointments. If I had stress it were mainly worries that I'd be too tired to keep going all day and to enjoy it all conciously. But I was told that brides are never tired or cold or ... and that would turn out to be the truth.
After dropping some stuff off at the church, we were ready to get dressed. Yeaaaaay exciting!
And then we had to wait until Jan would arrive, until my friend had spotted the taxi in front of the door and yelled "He's there!". When the doorbell rang, my hands were trembling slightly.
And after Jan , the rest of our family arrived and we took the time to have a toast and some relaxed socialising before we'd all be absorbed in the ceremonies and conversations with all the wedding guests.