It was a dark and stormy night. Actually the storm had abated, although a Bali rainy season downpour is like a berretta automatic machine gun pistol pulsating the ground with 1100 hits every two minutes; continuously repeating it self with no relief. While Bali thunder makes the same sound as the backfiring of a GM 671 diesel engine, the lightening flashes are almost blinding in their ferocity. The claps of thunder make me cringe. Bali rains are the most ferocious I have ever experienced. A Florida hurricane rain is timid in comparison.
Thunder rumbles, lightening cracks, plants grow. Eddies of water between the higher walkways and the garden create small ponds and lakes among the plants and flowers.
The weight of the downpour emancipates the heavens and crushes everything beneath. Trembling, crashing, bashing. One step into the downpour and it not only drenches your skin, but also enters your pours and soaks your whole body inside and out.
Originally the streets of Bali must have had open drain sewers to contain the runoff of these tremendous downpours. Throughout Ubud, the sidewalks, which consist of about one foot by two-foot slabs of ceramic tile, are built over these three-foot deep canals. Some with flowing waters, others with patches of mud, dirt, sand, and sometimes a bit of trash in the bottom. Often plastic bottles, sticks or other paraphernalia are used as markers to designate a rough or broken patch of sidewalk. Sometimes there is no marker at all. Which was the case with my personal hole.
After another excellent dinner of Seafood Paella at Sagittarius, an acquaintance and I were walking ‘home’ to our respective guesthouses. We decided to walk on the cross street parallel to the football (soccer) field which connects Julan (road) Monkey Forest, and, Julan Hanoman . We turned off Monkey Forest on to Julan Dewi Sita, walking at a steady clip. It was very dark. What light there was, was blocked by the SUVs parked along the side of the road. Suddenly I went down. I fell into an unmarked hole in the sidewalk. I stepped forward but there was only air. My left shin and thigh scrapped against the edge of the forward slap pulling up my pant leg as I fell. Because my right leg was bent in an automatic walking position, my right thigh hit the same ceramic tiles from another angle and my left elbow slammed down hard on the left side of the cement frame that was there as a brace for the missing sidewalk slap. When the shock of my situation wore off, I realized I was in a HOLE; hip level in a hole.
What was I to do? The woman with me ask, ‘can I help?” Surveying the situation, I decided no. This is the kind of situation where one can either become hysterical or remain calm and have a moment of quiet to figure it all out. Fortunately, I did the latter.
As I stood in my hole I surveyed all my body parts. My elbow hurt yes, and fortunately I was not standing in water or raw sewage; although in the darkness I couldn’t see, but I didn’t feel that I had any broken bones. Using what little strength I have in my arms, I am a 120-pound weakling; I pushed my self up on my left knee. I rested for a moment, and then brought the rest of my body to ground level. As I slowly stood up, the throbbing pain of my injuries seemed to supersede all other thoughts. My cuts, scratches, and sores were encased in blood, dirt and grit. ‘Infection. I have to get back to my guesthouse and clean my legs up before infection sets in.’ was my first thought. I limped down the street looking for a taxi, and as usual when you most need something, it’s never there. A security guard at a local restaurant offered to take me to Teba House on the back of his motorbike and I was there in a zip. After a good but painful dosing of water and proxicide, antibiotic cream and bandages, I surveyed my pants. I only had two pairs of long pants with me and these that I was wearing were now scrapped with long strips of pitch-black dirt embedded in the cloth. Damn! God, I was a mess. And I ached. Then like a lightening bolt, the golden rule of clothes and travel popped into my head – ‘clothes are sold everywhere in the world.’
The next morning I woke to find I had developed about a four by six inch burse on my upper left thigh and a swollen right ankle. Fortunately my cuts and scrapes healed, the burse turned from purple to yellow to gone, and the neighborhood laundry cleaned my pants to wearable condition so I didn’t have to invade my shopping budget. And I learned a new Golden Rule:
Beware of Holes in the Night