I’ll be on the plane to Bali in just eight days! As I consult with my boyfriend, a seasoned international traveler, for the best things to bring, he of course mentions a towel. And naturally, I cannot help but think of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
I’m sure if I’m together enough to remember where my towel is at all times, I’ll present the image of someone who is ready to explore the world.
As I consider what to bring with me, I’m also looking forward to what things await. I am so looking forward to beginning my training! After a couple of days of orientation to the area, settling into our accommodations, etc., we begin! Here’s what I’ve been told about my mask-carving teacher:
“Nyoman Setiawan comes from a family of mask carvers; his father, Regug, is a famous carver featured in a number of photo books on Balinese art and masks. Both of them live in a small village near Batuan, which is home to many famous dancers and carvers. Setiawan has made masks for Theatre du Soleil in France, for Dell’Arte International in Blue Lake, CA, and for many other performers and companies. He is equally at home carving traditional masks or taking on creative challenges from those who come with special orders. He teaches at his own studio as well as at Pondok Pecak, a library and cultural center offering lessons in dance, carving, language, etc in the center of Ubud. He is currently mayor of his village, and his daughter is one of the stars of the Balinese sprinting team.”
How awesome is it that he’s both the mayor and a mask maker?! I’ve always thought it important as an artist to maintain a lively connection to community and daily life. This belief has followed me through my work in AmeriCorps with Heart of the Beast in Minneapolis, to my study of “theatre of place” at Dell’Arte, to performing free original mask comedies in the parks of NYC with Under the Table, to working as a teaching artist in public schools, and then to working for the Educational Theatre Program at Oregon Children’s Theatre. That my teacher serves as both an artist and community leader seems to hint at what I’ve already been told about the way of life in Bali: art and life are inseparable.
And what is life without food? For many years I have heard my friend Abigael, an amazing chef, reference the mangosteen in a plaintive, yearning tone. It’s a fruit from SE Asia which is very difficult to find in its fresh form in North American markets. Apparently the threat of the Asian fruit fly is to blame for its relative scarcity.
I am also pretty interested in tasting the rambutan. This fruit is similarly rare to find fresh, as it only ripens while on the tree. The Lonely Planet guidebook sums up the fruit as “hairy and scary on the outside, sweet and juicy on the inside.” Although both can be sometimes found dried or in syrup, some allege that the fruits must be eaten in their native equatorial zone to be fully appreciated. I’m super excited to try them both out!
But with eight days left in the States, I have supplies to purchase, affairs to settle, and towels to locate. That will be just enough time.