Living off the grid…More photos from a road trip…

We were behind this dangerous situation in the rain on our return drive from Negara. If the truck in front of this motorbike driver stopped suddenly. Yikes!
“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”
Yesterday, this passenger ship sailed on the Bali Sea/Indian Ocean located in front of us.

The dream that many possess of escaping the stresses of everyday life in the big city or a metropolis to hide away on a tropical island may not be all that it’s cracked up to be.

In the short term, it may seem romantic with visions of lazy days and nights filled with hand-made arts and crafts, cooking fish on an open fire, and picking fruits from nearby trees. Find a huge bag of rice and organic vegetables from a local stand and a life of ease and leisure may be found.

For some lofty adventurers, this may work for a while and for others for a lifetime. But, for most of us, however, we might think we’d like to “live off the grid” the reality of such a life isn’t always pretty.

This motorbike loaded with products for sale is typical, in this case, coconuts. (Photo was taken through the windshield while moving fast).

There’s a TV show we’d watched a few times while in Australia called “Off the Grid Living,” amongst other such series produced throughout the world. Often, after participants spent a weekend trial period at their preferred off-the-grid property, particularly those with children, they’ve changed their minds deciding perhaps a few acres of land and a flock of chickens and goats would be more realistic.

When we fantasize about remote “roughing it” island living, we often don’t consider the basic elements of daily life most of us have taken for granted. Even here in Bali, the workers earning around IDR $1,997,714, US $150, a month have cell phones and access to the Internet as we’ve seen from our staff here at the villa.

They drive motorbikes they can purchase for around IDR $19,977,144, US $1500, on credit. They subsist on the most minimal of foods, mostly low cost locally grown white rice, and vegetables and they live in houses filled with multiple family members of many generations. (Seventy-five percent of Balinese people live in houses, not apartments).

Gede explained this outdoor stand is for church donations, comparable to a bake sale. Passersby purchase products to be donated to the church for poor families.

Gede also explained that family members care for the elderly since there is no such thing as retirement pensions or Social Security for the elderly. He and his siblings support his ill and aging parents who are old for their 60 years, having spent a hard life supporting their growing families, now fully dependent upon their children for survival.

There’s nothing romantic and enticing about such a lifestyle. It’s a life of hard work and never-ending hardship and responsibility. And if a person(s) coming from a traditional city or suburban life believes they’ll find ultimate happiness living off-the-grid, off the land, we admire their courage while wondering how long they’ll last. We’re all products of our environment.

We often wonder if the smiles on those beautiful faces of the locals are kindness and appreciation to those who visit their land providing jobs with minimal pay or if in fact, the simplicity of their lives truly brings them joy. If that’s the case, it doesn’t mean that those of us used to “more” of everything would find such a life easy and rewarding, peaceful and stress free.

Once we parked on the distant street we walked down this road to the biggest supermarket in Negara, Beli Lebih, which supposedly carries many “western” foods.  As hard as we looked we were unable to find many items on our shortlist.

Whenever we’ve lived on islands with less available amenities, we’ve met and come to know property owners who have transplanted from other countries to an island with a dream of a different life, stress-free and uncomplicated. Little did they realize what was ahead.

Once their vacation homes were built and occasionally occupied, they had a whole new set of concerns;  finances, power outages, poor Internet connections, storm damage, difficulty finding needed supplies and services, constant wear and tear on their property from humidity and salt air, inconsistent workers and problematic renters. The list could go on and on.

For those who dream of a tent on the beach under a palm tree with minimal amenities, we need only watch a few episodes of  the TV series “Survivor” to see how difficult that life could be for most people. And even on that series, the producers ensure there an adequate water supply and nearby medical care.

This colorful sign was posted regarding an event that occurred over the weekend.

Our words are not intended to squash anyone’s dream of living off the grid. If hard work and constant challenge are befitting one’s demeanor, by all means, go for it. 

If nothing else, it could prove to be a phenomenal life-changing experience for children and adults alike as they grow and mature while roughing it. And yes, there would be endless periods of great joy with a sense of adventure and accomplishment. 

Now, as we live in this exquisite upscale property with a household staff of four, even life here isn’t as easy as one might expect. The bugs, the flies, the poor WiFi connection, the constant heat and humidity and our inability to watch world news is by all means, an adjustment. 

This is the exterior of the photo shop where we each had visa photos taken for a nominal price. The wait was less than 10 minutes overall.

The unavailability of food products we usually use: beef, bacon, unprocessed cheese, sour cream, celery, baking soda, sea salt, Himalayan salt, familiar spices or coconut flour reminds us of how fortunate we’ve been in many locations. 

Soon, we’ll run out of the full-fat sour cream we purchased in Denpasar on the first day of our arrival which we use to make our daily coleslaw salad (lettuce is hard to find but cabbage is readily available). It’s not worth the eight-hour round trip harrowing drive to go get it. At that point, we’ll stop eating salad each day when neither of us cares for coleslaw without dressing.

This fire station in Negara could have been a fire station anywhere in the world.
Unable to watch world news (the WiFi signal too poor to watch online news although we do read highlights each day) or an occasional bit of mindless drivel also presents a reminder of how spoiled we’ve been in many locations with English speaking TV when approximately 35% of our vacation homes haven’t had TV at allPerhaps, living off the grid, one wouldn’t want to know what’s going on in the world. Maybe that’s the idea, after all.

For us, for our continuing safety and world travels, for our future financial security, and for our health, we choose not to “live off the grid” instead preferring more remote locations which ultimately require we make some sacrifices.

The pharmacy where we stopped for a few refills.  No prescription required for non-scheduled items.  Good service and prices.

So what? No more coleslaw? No health food store? No Himalayan salt (we’re almost out of our supply)? No homemade toothpaste (requires baking soda and salt)? We’re managing just fine, occasionally noting what we don’t have but overall noticing what we do.

Could it be that essentially, that’s the answer to fulfillment and happiness? Accepting what we do have as opposed to what we don’t? Sure, I’ll go with that premise. It’s working for us. May it work for you as well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 17, 2015:

Our favorite bird in Kauai, aptly names Birdie, who lived in our yard with his significant other, waiting for us each day as we opened the blinds in the morning, visiting us and singing for nuts many times each day and looking at us as we dined each night. For more photos as we neared the end of our glorious time in Kauai, please click here. For the video we made of him singing to us, please click here.