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The Genteel Art of Balinese Fly Killing.

semi-overcast 30 °C

It’s a Balinese New Year and it’s mid-summer here in the sunny southern hemisphere. Ahead of us the placid Sea of Bali stretches to the horizon where it melds seamlessly into an azure sky, while, at our feet, the paddies are turning green with newly planted rice. Here’s the neighbor and his son doing some last minute ploughing…
But Bali has a darker side and the clouds shrouding the mountains at our back ominously presage yet another nocturnal firework display. This equatorial Nirvana, wrought by volcanoes and molded by earthquakes and tsunamis, is a land of extremes. When it’s hot - it bakes. And when it rains, the roads turn to rivers and the paddies overflow in torrents. But the nightly downpours nurture the young rice and the tropical vegetation grows so fast in the moist heat it could outpace a triffid…
If we had the stomach for heights we could pick our own coconuts, papayas and cloves, and from the surrounding trees we could harvest cocoa, rambutan, durian, jackfruit and breadfruit. But Bali has such a varied topography and climate that almost anything grows here. Nutmeg, cinnamon, and a myriad of other spices thrive in the steamy jungles of the coastal plain, while coffee, tea, and all manner of fruits and vegetables flourish in the cool damp mountain airs. But along with such abundance comes wildlife…
Perhaps the greatest disappointment on our trans-Siberian journey was the absence of wildlife. Apart from a lone Bactrian camel in the Gobi desert and a woolly squirrel in Listvyanka our only brush with raw nature was a couple of teenaged boys fighting in the snow outside a college in Irkutsk. However, down on the farm in Bali, we live in a veritable menagerie. Exotic birds, butterflies and dragonflies fill the air, while less adorable snakes, frogs and gourmet-sized snails slither across the paths and swim in the paddies. Mice, rats and ants of every size are a daily irritant, but lizards, like gekoes and their larger cousins, tokays, are welcome house guests. These acrobatic little suckers can eat their weight in flies and spiders every night, so here in the tropics a man’s best friend is a lizard – except when they are noisily mating on the ceiling at three in the morning.
And then there are the flies. Balinese flies are akin to dandelions and unwanted facial hairs – pluck one and it’s a fair bet that two will appear in its place. But we don’t give in to such threats easily and have been determined to stamp out the little pests since our arrival. We started with a dollar-store plastic swatter, (only 10 cents here), and left a bloody trail of splattered bodies on the chopping board and table cloth. The continual “shlap” of the swatter hitting the table so unnerved the dog, (who may have worried that she was next on the hit list), that we gave up in favour of the more genteel, and time-honoured, flypaper.
Flypaper was a Victorian invention, using glue laced with honey and arsenic, at a time when many people still believed that flies hatched directly from men’s perspiration. (Victorian women, of course, never perspired – they merely glowed). But, while flypaper might be effective against the odd well-mannered English fly, a thin strip of sticky paper is little use against a squadron of the Balinese blighters. So we went for the full monty of fly traps - a tabloid-sized sheet of flypaper ankle deep in glue strong enough to disable an Indonesian elephant. And it worked – on the flies, not the elephant. But a page coated with a hundred dead flies is not a pretty sight, so here’s a picture of Tony's farmers planting the rice in our front yard...
But back to the flies – if we must. A page full of tasty morsels looked like dinner to a mouse one night and he metaphorically came unstuck when he dived in. He had barely started on the appetizer when his feet refused to budge and he fell over. Bingo – we now had a hundred and one pests all firmly glued to a single sheet of paper, an even less attractive sight. So here’s another view of our lush surroundings..
We can only imagine the struggles that the mouse went through as he tried to unglue himself that night, but by the morning he was more firmly attached to the page than a bibliophile with a classic novel. He was a pitiful sight with his paws firmly stuck and his fur matted, and he had fallen and couldn’t get up. It would have been so easy just to drop him, flies and all, into a bucket. So why did we spend ten minutes gently prying the poor little creature, one paw and one hair at a time, from the page? Why were we so careful not to damage his little tail as we disentangled it from the glue? Why did we clean him up as best we could and find him a sheltered little spot in the garden? Why did we let him go?
We guess we’re just suckers for a hard luck story and a cute face! And here’s some more cute Balinese faces…
These are some delightful kids we were introduced to when we were invited to participate in a festival to celebrate the full moon by our friend Juny.
Happy New Year dear blog reader, (and Catherine), from us and Juny. Now it’s time for our Polar Bear swim – at least it would be if only we could cool the pool to below 25 degrees. That’s very unlikely in this heat so we have come up with a plan. Henceforth we shall celebrate New Year with a Koala Bear swim where we will search for the hottest pool available and suffer the intolerable warmth with a smile...
Happy New Year to all from downunder in sweltering Bali.

Posted by Hawkson 03:44 Archived in Indonesia

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Happy New Year!!!!!

by Jenny Jose

Just home yesterday evening after ten hours of planes and airports (delayed in Ottawa for an hour while our plane lined up with many others to be deiced).
I think it is already 2013 in Bali so a belated Happy New Year. Too bad you aren't in Ottawa. If you can find the canal's ice surface under three feet of snow and chop for a while, you could have a real polar bear swim.

by R and B

I envy your new years swim. I would also love to see your fly paper, complete with all the guests. Happy New Year to you both--you look so relaxed.


by Keith

Happy new year to you both! Thank you for detaching the mouse from the fly-paper.

by Janet

A very happy new year, you two. Was glad the mouse-on-flypaper story ended well...you two are amazing. We will be devouring a raclette at lunch time today here in the French countryside. hugs and kisses, S and H.

by Sharron Bertchilde

Happy New Year! I hope you don't boil on your koala swim...I am just getting ready to embark on the polar bear swim, which has been moved to Twin Beaches for my convenience this year. No one will be there to take my photo though, as all of my brave friends are swimming abroad, it appears. maybe next year.

by catherine

Happy New Year lots of good wishes for 2013
The adventures seem to get more interesting - may they never end.

by Jean and David

Happy New Year to you two. My earlier post (last week) seems to have gone astray so here's another. Loved the photo of the kids. A very attractive kind of wild life. Looking forward to following your adventures in the new year.

by Tom

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