Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Dogs of Ubud

There are many myths about the island of Bali. One of the most ridiculous we heard at a warung in Ubud while enjoying dinner our first night here. A gentleman wired with a headset, cell phone, and a computer, sitting among what we assumed were friends, (though if they were friends, he made no consideration of them) was speaking with what we presumed was soon to be his ex-girlfriend, explaining to her that babies don't cry in Bali. He told her this several times, I'm guessing because her baby might have been crying on the other end of the line in Switzerland, or Sweden, or wherever his soon to be ex-girlfriend might live.

As I've walked the streets of Ubud these past few days, eyes fixed on the sidewalks at my feet to avoid falling in one of the many gaping holes ready to swallow up unaware pedestrians, I've noticed the special breed of dogs that wander the streets here. They are mongrel mutts, the mangiest I've seen. They roam freely unattached to the people of Ubud, living off the scraps, and garbage that fall to the way side. They own the streets, sometimes enforce a stop to traffic. There is no sense of ownership to these dogs, and with Rabies on the rise here in Bali, we often find ourselves crossing the road to avoid the mutts that occupy our path. And when we've come upon a gang of them harassing one bitch or another, or simply positioning for dominance, we've amused ourselves with the memory of the delusional traveller at the warung by attempting to create another myth about the island, "Dogs don't bark in Bali."

Fortunately for us, Ubud is not all about the dogs. These past few days we've managed to get our bearings and reach out beyond the tourist center with all of its stores, and hawkers offering transport, to find the serenity that is so attractive on this island. Walks through the rice paddies and leisurely lunches in the hills have made our enforced stay here pleasurable as we eagerly anticipate the next step in our journey.

The project in Banda seems to be well on its way without us for now. Peter has told us that he's opened up two units at BN1, a curious site we excavated in '97 and again in '98. Each unit is roughly 80cm in depth at this point, and based on our dig in '98, could easily get down to 3 meters. We found many of the similar faunal and ceramic remains that were found elsewhere on the island, but what was unique were a series of earthenware ceramics shaped like birds heads and pigs noses. A photo of our friend Kathy who joined the expedition in '98 can be seen holding one of the pigs noses up to her own.

As for Laura and me, we head off to Ambon on Friday, and catch the ferry to Banda on Saturday. It will be good to get down to the basics of Banda.

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