holmes sweet holmes

sucking marrow and seeking more

Jalan Jalan

Somehow I have been in Bali for two months now without writing a single blogpost. Instead I’ve been out observing and absorbing my new surroundings, trying to replace my mind’s default-foreign-language of Arabic with Bahasa.

My language lessons help, and I am slowly remembering the new vocabulary. In particular, I really like the phrase jalan jalan. Jalan means street, and jalan jalan is a multipurpose word, depending on the context. My favorite definition? To wander. 

The last nine weeks I’ve been wandering down strange streets, attempting to find my place amongst the Bintangs and villas and rice fields. 

Settling into Bali is an entirely different experience than Cairo. Besides the obvious differences – tropical island, drastically lower population, traditions and religion – I am finding smaller, more nuanced changes. Like differences in my mental math (that costs ONE MILLION RUPIAHS?!), the variety of fruits and veggies (dragon fruit and edamame, yum yum), and my life’s new soundscape (cocking crows in place of calls to prayer).

I am the biggest change, though.

My naivety has lessened, and I know that arriving in a place does not actually mean I have arrived at all. There are still so many steps to take after the first one that brings me off of the plane. 

And my comparisons have increased. I am no old hat at teaching abroad, but because this isn’t my first international job, I hear myself saying, “When I was in Cairo…” far too many (annoying) times. This is a rougher transition. I still feel unsettled, in both the place and in my job.

Plus, I find myself longing for Cairo. And we all know how impossible it is to embrace something new when you are grasping for what you left behind.

This is not to say I am having a poor experience. On the contrary, I am literally living in paradise. Many Sunday nights, I eat fish barbecue while watching the sunset over the ocean, and then walk down the beach to dance in the sand to live reggae music. I am forging friendships with beautiful souls, and I have nothing but love for the kiddos who fill my classroom and my heart. I explore new corners of this island on a regular basis, across land and under the sea. It’s been a wild adventure.

My soul is still wandering these new streets, working through the growing pains of a new situation, searching for the words to articulate it all. Until I find them, I’ll share pictures: 

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Rice fields

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Tanah Lot Temple

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Sunday night sunset

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An evening’s walk on the beach 

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Nyang Nyang Beach, off the beaten path

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Contemplative monkey

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Uluwatu Temple









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3 thoughts on “Jalan Jalan

  1. Oh Katie! So wonderfully written. It is true for me as well that “arriving” takes more time than showing up. I am still arriving, and don’t know how long it will take to be fully present, or not compare my life now with my life before. I wish you best of luck during this transition!

  2. Katie..I see a new side to you…enjoy and breathe…and I love Jalan, Jalan…but you must teach us how to say it.

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