After dinner I get two sarongs (or kamen, since they are for men) wrapped around me and tied at the waist and a three-cornered cloth (already folded and held in shape with a piece of internal wire) placed atop my head. The white button-down shirt they give me is too small for my chest so we leave it open at the front, my Love for Canggu – Bali visible to all. We go first to the family's own temple, where my friend's father performs our rights after we have purified ourselves with incense smoke and prayed three times with our hands together in front of our heads and different-colored flowers grasped between the tips of our longest fingers. The priest splashes holy water into the upheld palms of our right hands four times. I peek over at my friend's six-year-old daughter to see what I should be doing and she flashes me a gap-toothed smile, so I suck the water into my mouth just as she and her father are doing but am not sure what to do with the last splash and decide to follow their lead and rub it on my face and neck. The priest sprinkles a few grains of white rice into our palms and we use the remnants of holy water lingering there to stick them to the middle of our foreheads. My friend says to me that it is now OK to ask the gods for things and so I start saying my Thank Yous and asking that my friends and family be blessed with peace, prosperity, and Happiness. Overwhelmed with relief and gratitude, tears run down my cheeks, to gather in my beard. The girl looks over with a puzzled face as the tall bulé Westerner next to her cries, sitting in the dirt floor atop a Disney-themed floor mat with frayed edges. Without wiping the tears from my face I follow my friend and his daughter to a second temple, one for the wider family, where his uncle performs the rituals for us and we stuff more flowers behind our ears and stick more rice onto our foreheads.
The process is short, not lasting more than ten minutes, and before I know it we are walking through the darkened streets back to my friend's house, to drink more beers and smoke more smokes. He shares with me insider information about some cheap parcels of land near the river not far from his house that are sure to jump in value once the government paves the big road there with asphalt. After inquiring my friend agrees that it would be acceptable for me to make a donation at the larger family temple. With his daughter in hand he leads me back over to it and I feel terrible entering without my kamen on yet am greeted with warmth and smiles and press a folded up one-hundred-thousand rupiah note into a priest's hands. He bows his head to me with his hands together at the forehead and as I turn to take my leave he and his attendants gesture at me to take some fruit, which I have now just eaten. Oh, to be sure, I Love Canggu – Bali.
© americanifesto / 場黑麥