Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Red Cross Phone Home

That Rectangle Under The Category 5 Hurricane Is Puerto Rico

As long time Red Cross volunteers,  Glen and I help establish communications with radio and VSAT satellite communications to support relief efforts.  For Hurricane Maria, we deployed VSATs to establish WiFi Internet service so that affected Puerto Ricans could contact their loved ones via Skype, text and email as part of a valuable and much needed Red Cross Reunification Program. 

Finding Look Angle to the Satellite Using A Theodolite
We Named This VSAT Jerry 

We fired up our generators in the town plaza, alerting the dazed looking townspeople that something was going on.  Word spread fast that the Red Cross was setting up communications that would enable calls to their families outside Puerto Rico.  "Bring your phones and charge them, " we announced in Spanish.  People gathered and plugged their phones into our charging stations while our team got the VSAT and WiFi up and running.  No pressure here folks, just hundreds of traumatized people waiting to call their loved ones for the first time since Hurricane Maria.  
Even though cell service and electricity was down, our satellite connection and internet WiFi allows users to text, send email and call. 

   
Elisandro,  Javier, Craig and Me Setting Up  VSAT
With Many American Red Cross Volunteers Still Hard At Work
On Hurricanes Harvey and Irma We Welcomed the Support Of
Three Spanish and One Finnish Red Cross Delegates

Our Staff Shelter - The Basement of a Church
Sleeping With 70 New Friends
A Generator Gave Us Light 

Glen and I had a family trip planned when we heard from David Schindler, a fellow Red Cross IT-Telecom volunteer and friend.  We had been watching the intensity and size of Hurricane Maria and knew that Puerto Rico would be slammed in a swath of destruction.  David had just worked Hurricane Harvey for three weeks and was now going to assist with Hurricane Maria.  Glen and I decided that if David could work back-to-back disasters, we could shift the dates of our personal travel.  We deployed to Puerto Rico the day after  hurricane Maria went through.  The airport and harbors were closed to commercial traffic, but a FEMA chartered plane put Red Cross disaster response people among the first on the ground.  It was a  strange feeling to land at an airport where the lights are off and to unload your own cases of satellite communication equipment.  
Eli and Enrique - Spanish Red Cross Friends 

Glen and I live in Arizona and as they say, dry heat is quite different.  Hot, humid places are tough when there is no electricity for air conditioning or fans, or lights for that matter.  Red Cross volunteer staff slept in the basement of a church and there was enough fuel to run a generator at night to circulate and cool the air.  But we were all so busy our cots felt great at night - we were that tired.  Besides, how could any of us complain when the need and losses  of the Puerto Rican people were so extreme.  


 Loading and Unloading Equipment
Logistics Are A Challenge With No Comms or Electricity
Headlamps Rock! 

But we were only in the shelters for sleeping, water and food resupply.  Our VSAT team departed early in the morning in a convoy of 3-4 cars, connected by portable radios for safety.  Once our VSAT was up and running we could talk to the townspeople.  Our Reunification team circulated among the crowd, showing them how to log onto our Wi-Fi system and make Voice Over Internet phone calls, text and email their loved ones. For anyone without a working phone, we provided Red Cross phones with prepaid Skype accounts so that no one was left out. 
Glen - VSAT Whisperer - Fixing Equipment Problems

Getting our team out to remote areas was a challenge.  I grew very fond of the four wheel truck which carried our team of two and all the communication equipment.  A couple times I held my breath that we could ford the standing water in the street and we always made it. The first weeks after the storm were marked by detours around felled trees in the road and localized flooding from near daily rain storms.  Thankfully, our VSATs were able to power through the rain to reach the satellite in even the hardest downpours.  The Red Cross was one of the first responders and at times we combined our WiFi service with food distribution and Health Services visits.  The tears and outpouring of grief and sadness from the townspeople describing their losses and uncertainty about their future often set me and others crying.  It was impossible to not be moved by what they had endured.  Our internet based phone calls were the first contact these folks had with their loved ones after the hurricane.  Imagine the frustration and fear of being separated from your family after a natural disaster with no way to contact them or to know their fate.  It turned out to be a greater psychological support than I ever anticipated.  Something else happened during those VSAT missions that I never anticipated.  The town plazas once again became a base for the community to gather.  A place where people once again felt part of their families and connected to the world. 

Crowds Talking, Texting and Emailing 

We only had enough VSATs for two teams.
Glen and I Were On Team 1 and 2
I was on Team 1!
This was one of our dry, sunny days. 
Hearing so many stories gave us an emotional connection with the people we served and spurred us  to work into the night.  VSAT operation is an outdoor job and we went about our jobs in rain ponchos and squished around in shoes filled with water.  Even in heavy rain townspeople huddled under tarps and umbrellas close to our WiFi antenna in order to communicate with loved ones.  As we drove through the island providing communications we discovered the humanity and generosity of people who have been through trying times together.  In the field our Red Cross teams ate nutritional bars, except when people in the community kindly prepared rice and beans for us.  Disasters make you realize that it does not matter how much money you have or what your social position is in the world.  Catastrophe is a big equalizer and all we really have at such times are each other. 
Craig Mitchell - Finnish RC - Network Engineer Extraordinaire

VSATs R Us 
But it wasn’t all sadness and tears.  Once people talked and connected with their families they seemed lighter and happier.  I got to practice my Spanish as they told stories about their visits to the mainland USA and family members living there.   In one small mountain town a twenty-something woman walked up with a smile, wearing a T-shirt that said, “I don’t need help, I need WiFi.”  I’m not sure that woman’s neighbors agreed with her priorities, but our Red Cross VSAT Reunification Team was certainly the answer to her needs.   

Colin Chaperone - International Red Cross Field Officer
Enrique Bossa - Go Team One!!! 

Monday, October 16, 2017


“The stonefly hatch is on at the Deschutes River” Ben said. “It’s an all-day float trip. The fish are found near the banks, where stoneflies fall from nearby trees. The catching is particularly good in the late afternoon when the stoneflies are blown into the river by afternoon breezes.”

Three ‘Sisters’ Mountain Peaks – Faith, Hope, Charity
“There, did you see that?” Ben Kittell, our fly fishing guide on the Lower Deshutes River pointed a few feet from where I balanced in the current. He whispered, “A fish just broke the surface”. Without a clue of how to entice that fish onto my light fly rod, I hand it to Ben and ask him to show me that casting technique one more time. In Ben’s hands my fly rod comes to life and he once again talks me through “short line nymphing”. This involves casting tiny ‘nymph like’ flies upstream and a few feet below the surface with a tiny lead weight attached near the end of the line. Ben advises me to watch my line closely as the fly drifts with the current, and to set the hook when I feel the slightest tug of the line. Ben explains that nymph fishing is great for beginners because most fish feed below the surface. In other words, as a novice, I have a better chance of catching a fish by nymphing.

Sisters Fishing Guide Ben Kittell
This was our first visit to Oregon, which was planned around a four day fishing trip in the Sisters area. Sisters is a small town named after the three surrounding 10,000 ft ‘sister’ mountain peaks called Faith, Hope and Charity. My original plan had been to hike along the streams as I usually do while Glen, my husband, fly fishes. However, I was so taken by the beauty and rushing sounds of the rivers along the way that I decided that now would be as good a time to learn to fly fish. They never put a fish in an ugly place,” Glen said as encouragement. My husband loves everything about fly fishing and had been trying to interest me in the sport for years.

Glen and I walked into The Fly Fisher’s Place in Sisters and made arrangements for a guided float trip with local expert Ben Kittell. Although my heart was set on the beautiful Metolius River, guides are not allowed on that river. Glen convinced me it would be better if I started with a guide first before striking out on my own to fish the Metolius .


Our Fly Fishing Drift Boat
I should probably mention here that Ben was not the weathered, laconic guide I expected. He did not wear a hat with artificial flies stuck in the brim nor was he stingy with his fish secrets. With his looks and gentle, patient manner, Ben could have been cast in Robert Redford’s film, “A River Runs Through It.”



Stone Fly Look-Alikes

Although this is a float trip, it is illegal to fish the Lower Deshutes River from a boat. The idea is to float to the juiciest feeding grounds by boat, and then step into the water to fish. That is why within minutes of the boat launch I am wading slowly in strong, thigh deep current, fighting to keep my balance. It is a struggle to cast and stay upright on the rocky riverbed. I am wearing what feels like waterproof footy pajamas in borrowed boots that feel slick on the mossy rocks. It is all I can do to stand, much less master the cast that Ben patiently teaches me. On our stops along the river, I wade awkwardly from the boat and repeat my casting mantra ‘pick up, back cast, forward cast, let down, mend… ‘. All with my feet planted in a way that will prevent me from being swept downstream. A visual learner, I ask Ben to show me yet again and he elegantly swooshes my rod back and forth to demonstrate the correct casting technique. There are so many things to remember about casting, that with the first few stops of the boat I have what kind Buddhists might call ‘Beginners Mind’ and my mother calls ‘Perfectionist Tendencies”. I am focusing so hard that Ben reminds me to ‘think like a fish’… which instantly got me out of my overthinking mode and into studying the river environment. It was interesting how shifting my attention away from myself relaxed my arm and body. Suddenly even the current did not seem menacing.

I look upstream at Glen. He is artfully doing his thing. An experienced and passionate fly fisherman, Glen values our happy marriage too much to try and teach me himself. Lucky for me, our guide Ben is as patient as he is knowledgeable. Tying and casting nymph lines is a ritual which for Ben seems second nature as he zings the line back and forth laying the artificial nymph down on the water in a smooth beautiful motion.

After a few hours I have the hang of what Ben calls a ‘good beginner cast’. It was the setting of the hook that took some work. My eagerness combined with the slightest pull from a submerged rock or weed was enough to prompt me to jerk my rod skyward in the nibbling phase, thereby ensuring that the fish was released before the barbless hook was set. To make it easier for me, Ben stuck a small, white floating indicator on my line to help me know when to ‘set’ the hook.

Glen With His First Of Many Caught and Released
In truth, I couldn’t help doubting about my chances of catching a fish. There were swarms of real insects flying just above the water. If trout could not be bothered to ‘rise’ for the real thing what would make it desire the imposter on the end of my line. Ben assured me that trout love those large, tasty stone flies. If I could convince the trout that my lure was a stone fly I would soon be reeling in a trout.

As Glen reeled in and released his first trout of the day I consoled myself with the thought that no matter what happened, I was outdoors surrounded by stunning rock formations and lush, green riverbanks. Plus, my cast was improving and I was enjoying myself. Why had I waited so long to fly fish?

As Glen reeled in and released trout in the 11 – 15 inch range I tried ever harder to ‘think like a fish’, cast properly and hold my ground in the rocky, river bed all at the same time. Since Glen was catching fish, I knew that Ben was right. I needed to cast in a way that convinced the trout that my fly was a real insect. As proof, the first time I placed a perfect cast, I felt a strong tug. If only I had remembered which direction to pull the line to set the hook, I would have been able to catch that trout. Then I could have magnanimously released it instead of see it swim away on its own accord. With the loss of that fish, it became very important for me to hook a fish and bring it into the net.

Strangely enough, my one solid catch that day was caught on a back cast. Even our guide was surprised by that. My first fish catch was an important milestone for me. I felt such a connection with my trout that I wanted to keep him – maybe for a mount. But then Ben pointed out that it was better to release the trout and give other fishermen the same joy I felt. Additionally, my trout was on the small side. But that trout had a stout heart and fought the good fight right up until Ben scooped him into the net.

After I came down off the adrenaline rush of catching that fish, I realized that I had been wrong about fly fishing. I used to think that fly fishing was not about catching fish, but an art form. But even releasing the trout was exciting. I had to administer fish CPR to get my trout perky for return to its habitat. I felt such a thrill catching that wild trout that I was ‘hooked’ on fly fishing.

Metolius River 
I started getting cold as the sun set and breezes blew down the river. I returned to the float boat and watched Glen cast, catch and release until it was too dark for he and Ben to tie flies on the line. We had been on the Deschutes a full 10 hours.

The next morning Glen and I slept in and decided that even though my technique was not ready for prime time, today we would fish from the banks of the famous Metolius River. First we needed to buy some green drake flies and stopped again at The Fly Fisher’s Place. I was surprised to see Ben manning the shop after such a previously long day on the Deschutes. But he seemed fully revived and took out a map to brief Glen on the best places to access and fish the Metolius River. As we left the shop Glen remarked, “A great fly shop. Ben sold me $20 worth of flies and gave me $200 worth of advice.” We felt like locals.

Fish Don't Live In Ugly Places 
Our plan was to visit the head of the Metolius River before heading downstream to fish. I knew the Metolius was spring-fed, but it was still a surprise to see a river pouring out of the side of a hill. The sign at the end of the lush, tree bordered path said that the Metolius wells to the surface at the rate of 50,000 gallons a minute from underground springs. Those clear, blue headwaters set the stage for the rare beauty and scenery of the Metolius River.
Metolius Trout Like Green Drakes 
On Ben’s advice, we drove eight miles further downstream from the headwaters to the Wizard Falls fish hatchery which is open to the public. I was surprised to read that there are no fish stocked in the Metolius River – it’s full of wild trout. The hatchery uses the spring water for hatching operations, but the five million hatched trout, as well as salmon eggs, are sent to other rivers, lakes and streams in Oregon.


Fish Hatchery On Metolius River 
The trout in the Metolius River are famously smart. I might go a stretch further and say they are downright wily. Even Glen was not savvy enough to catch one of those blue ribbon trout. The fish were there alright – from the banks above I could see silvery shapes floating lazily in the holes and working their way upstream. But the bank of the river was as close as I came to a Metolius trout that day. However, I had no regrets – the beauty of that swift river over mossy rocks was more than enough reason to fish the Metolius River.

Four days, three Sisters, two rivers and one new fly fisherman. I don’t want to wait too long to get back to it.

Fish Don't Live In Ugly Places

Three ‘Sisters’ Mountain Peaks – Faith, Hope, Charity

“There, did you see that?”  Ben Kittell, our fly fishing guide on the Lower Deshutes River pointed a few feet from where I balanced in the current.  He whispered, “A fish just broke the surface”.  Without a clue of how to entice that fish onto my light fly rod, I hand it to Ben and ask him to show me that casting technique one more time.  In Ben’s hands my fly rod comes to life and he once again talks me through “short line nymphing”. This involves casting tiny ‘nymph like’ flies upstream and a few feet below the surface with a tiny lead weight attached near the end of the line. Ben advises me to watch my line closely as the fly drifts with the current, and to set the hook when I feel the slightest tug of the line.  Ben explains that nymph fishing is great for beginners because most fish feed below the surface.  In other words, as a novice, I have a better chance of catching a fish by nymphing. 
Sisters Fishing Guide Ben Kittell



This was our first visit to Oregon, which was planned around a four day fishing trip in the Sisters area. Sisters is a small town named after the three surrounding 10,000 ft ‘sister’ mountain peaks called Faith, Hope and Charity. My original plan had been to hike along the streams as I usually do while Glen, my husband, fly fishes.  However, I was so taken by the beauty and rushing sounds of the rivers along the way that I decided that now would be as good a time to learn to fly fish. They never put a fish in an ugly place,” Glen said as encouragement. My husband loves everything about fly fishing and had been trying to interest me in the sport for years.


Glen and I walked into The Fly Fisher’s Place in Sisters and made arrangements for a guided float trip with local expert Ben Kittell.  Although my heart was set on the beautiful Metolius River, guides are not allowed on that river.  Glen convinced me it would be better if I started with a guide first before striking out on my own to fish the Metolius .
“The stonefly hatch is on at the Deschutes River” Ben said. “It’s an all-day float trip.  The fish are found near the banks, where stoneflies fall from nearby trees.  The catching is particularly good in the late afternoon when the stoneflies are blown into the river by afternoon breezes.”
Our Fly Fishing Drift Boat 

I should probably mention here that Ben was not the weathered, laconic guide I expected.  He did not wear a hat with artificial flies stuck in the brim nor was he stingy with his fish secrets.  With his looks and gentle, patient manner, Ben could have been cast in Robert Redford’s film, “A River Runs Through It.” 
Stone Fly Look-Alikes




Although this is a float trip, it is illegal to fish the Lower Deshutes River from a boat.  The idea is to float to the juiciest feeding grounds by boat, and then step into the water to fish. That is why within minutes of the boat launch I am wading slowly in strong, thigh deep current, fighting to keep my balance.  It is a struggle to cast and stay upright on the rocky riverbed.  I am wearing what feels like waterproof footy pajamas in borrowed boots that feel slick on the mossy rocks. It is all I can do to stand, much less master the cast that Ben patiently teaches me.  On our stops along the river, I wade awkwardly from the boat and repeat my casting mantra ‘pick up, back cast, forward cast, let down, mend… ‘.  All with my feet planted in a way that will prevent me from being swept downstream.  A visual learner, I ask Ben to show me yet again and he elegantly swooshes my rod back and forth to demonstrate the correct casting technique.  There are so many things to remember about casting, that with the first few stops of the boat I have what kind Buddhists might call ‘Beginners Mind’ and my mother calls ‘Perfectionist Tendencies”.   I am focusing so hard that Ben reminds me to ‘think like a fish’… which instantly got me out of my overthinking mode and into studying the river environment.  It was interesting how shifting my attention away from myself relaxed my arm and body.  Suddenly even the current did not seem menacing. 

I look upstream at Glen.  He is artfully doing his thing.  An experienced and passionate fly fisherman, Glen values our happy marriage too much to try and teach me himself.  Lucky for me, our guide Ben is as patient as he is knowledgeable.  Tying and casting nymph lines is a ritual which for Ben seems second nature as he zings the line back and forth laying the artificial nymph down on the water in a smooth beautiful motion.
After a few hours I have the hang of what Ben calls a ‘good beginner cast’.  It was the setting of the hook that took some work. My eagerness combined with the slightest pull from a submerged rock or weed was enough to prompt me to jerk my rod skyward in the nibbling phase, thereby ensuring that the fish was released before the barbless hook was set.  To make it easier for me, Ben stuck a small, white floating indicator on my line to help me know when to ‘set’ the hook. 
Glen With His First Of Many Caught and Released
In truth, I couldn’t help doubting about my chances of catching a fish.  There were swarms of real insects flying just above the water.  If trout could not be bothered to ‘rise’ for the real thing what would make it desire the imposter on the end of my line.  Ben assured me that trout love those large, tasty stone flies. If I could convince the trout that my lure was a stone fly I would soon be reeling in a trout. 
As Glen reeled in and released his first trout of the day I consoled myself with the thought that no matter what happened, I was outdoors surrounded by stunning rock formations and lush, green riverbanks.  Plus, my cast was improving and I was enjoying myself.  Why had I waited so long to fly fish?  
As Glen reeled in and released trout in the 11 – 15 inch range I tried ever harder to ‘think like a fish’, cast properly and hold my ground in the rocky, river bed all at the same time.  Since Glen was catching fish, I knew that Ben was right.  I needed to cast in a way that convinced the trout that my fly was a real insect.  As proof, the first time I placed a perfect cast, I felt a strong tug.  If only I had remembered which direction to pull the line to set the hook, I would have been able to catch that trout. Then I could have magnanimously released it instead of see it swim away on its own accord.  With the loss of that fish, it became very important for me to hook a fish and bring it into the net.
Strangely enough, my one solid catch that day was caught on a back cast.  Even our guide was surprised by that.  My first fish catch was an important milestone for me.  I felt such a connection with my trout that I wanted to keep him – maybe for a mount.  But then Ben pointed out that it was better to release the trout and give other fishermen the same joy I felt.  Additionally, my trout was on the small side.  But that trout had a stout heart and fought the good fight right up until Ben scooped him into the net.
After I came down off the adrenaline rush of catching that fish, I realized that I had been wrong about fly fishing.  I used to think that fly fishing was not about catching fish, but an art form.  But even releasing the trout was exciting.   I had to administer fish CPR to get my trout perky for return to its habitat.  I felt such a thrill catching that wild trout that I was ‘hooked’ on fly fishing.
Metolius River 
I started getting cold as the sun set and breezes blew down the river.  I returned to the float boat and watched Glen cast, catch and release until it was too dark for he and Ben to tie flies on the line. We had been on the Deschutes a full 10 hours. 
The next morning Glen and I slept in and decided that even though my technique was not ready for prime time, today we would fish from the banks of the famous Metolius River.  First we needed to buy some green drake flies and stopped again at The Fly Fisher’s Place.  I was surprised to see Ben manning the shop after such a previously long day on the Deschutes.  But he seemed fully revived and took out a map to brief Glen on the best places to access and fish the Metolius River.  As we left the shop Glen remarked, “A great fly shop.  Ben sold me $20 worth of flies and gave me $200 worth of advice.”  We felt like locals. 
Fish Don't Live In Ugly Places 

Our plan was to visit the head of the Metolius River before heading downstream to fish.  I knew the Metolius was spring-fed, but it was still a surprise to see a river pouring out of the side of a hill.  The sign at the end of the lush, tree bordered path said that the Metolius wells to the surface at the rate of 50,000 gallons a minute from underground springs.  Those clear, blue headwaters set the stage for the rare beauty and scenery of the Metolius River. 
Metolius Trout Like Green Drakes 

On Ben’s advice, we drove eight miles further downstream from the headwaters to the Wizard Falls fish hatchery which is open to the public.  I was surprised to read that there are no fish stocked in the Metolius River – it’s full of wild trout.  The hatchery uses the spring water for hatching operations, but the five million hatched trout, as well as salmon eggs, are sent to other rivers, lakes and streams in Oregon.
Fish Hatchery On Metolius River 


The trout in the Metolius River are famously smart.  I might go a stretch further and say they are downright wily.  Even Glen was not savvy enough to catch one of those blue ribbon trout.  The fish were there alright – from the banks above I could see silvery shapes floating lazily in the holes and working their way upstream.  But the bank of the river was as close as I came to a Metolius trout that day.   However, I had no regrets – the beauty of that swift river over mossy rocks was more than enough reason to fish the Metolius River.
Four days, three Sisters, two rivers and one new fly fisherman.  I don’t want to wait too long to get back to it.

BALI - Where Everyone Knows Your Name

This is an excerpt from "Second Wind", a book I am writing about our sailing circumnavigation.  Glen and I finished our circumnavigation in 2005, sold our boat in Annapolis, and moved to Arizona where I became a Sky Island Woman.   


It was difficult to farewell the beauty and wonders of our four years in the Pacific Ocean.  But once we decided to keep going, Bali, the mystical Hindu island of Indonesia was an appealing destination.  After a smooth 1,100 mile sail passage from Darwin,  Glen and I arrived in Denpasar, the capital and tourist mecca of Bali.
BALI - A 7 DAY SAIL FROM DARWIN 


Wanting some creature comforts like hot showers and something besides fish for dinner, Glen steered the boat straight for the marina which a sign proclaimed the Royal Bali Yacht Club.  It sounded too elegant for our sailing attire, but my worries dissolved as Glen eased our sailboat into the marina berth.  At one time the marina may have been the pride of royalty, but that must have been in the distant past. There was much about the infrastructure of the marina to give a person pause.   Electricity hookup at each berth was a foot high Hindu shrine with a jumble of wires.  Glen has an engineering background and normally does all the electricity related work on our boat.  But here it was safer to let ‘local knowledge’ connect us to the power grid.  While Glen went ashore to check us into the country, my job was to wash the accumulated salt and grime off the boat after our 7 day passage from Darwin. The friendly dock hands offered to wash the boat, but I needed something to do until Glen returned with our stamped passports.  When I turned on the water hose I jumped back as green slime poured from the hose, followed by a lighter green colored water.  This was the first time I ever encountered fresh water too dirty to clean our boat.  I wasn’t even sure it was safe for a shower.  A walk along the docks involved avoiding rebar spikes - the marina had seen better days.  
 BALINESE DANCER
Bali is unique among the 1,000 inhabited islands in Indonesia – it is exclusively Hindu while the rest of Indonesia is Muslim.  After seven months in Australia, Bali was our entrance to the exotic world of Asia.  “What sounds most interesting for tonight?,” I asked Glen. The bulletin board at the Yacht Club listed fire dances, mask dances, trance dances, monster dances and puppet shows – all within a short taxi ride from the marina.  The odds were that no matter what we picked, we would have the venue pretty much to ourselves. Just a year before, Bali’s tourism was shattered by three car bombs that leveled two nightclubs and killed 202 people, mostly Australian tourists. The effects of the attack was still apparent on Bali. Now, over a year later, tourism was way down and the local economy was suffering.

The five star beach resorts close to the marina were deserted of tourists.  Yet somehow, the close and crowded capital of Denpasar was mayhem. Local drivers, motorbikes, cyclists and pedestrians darted through clouds of grey exhaust smoke.  The largest knock-off goods market we had ever seen occupied blocks of shops, and spilled onto the streets.  Market vendors offered everything from cheap massages and tattoos to $5 Louis Vuitton handbags and $20 Rolex watches.
 The place appeared busy at first glance,  but the empty shops and pleading voices of the hawkers told a different story. I thought Glen and I were immune to the lure of knock-off goods, but I stood speechless while Glen bargained for two knock-off Rolex watches. “What are those for?’ I asked.   His answer silenced me.  “We are going to keep them in plain sight on the boat in case we are boarded by pirates.  Indonesia is the start of pirate country.  If they find these ‘expensive’ watches maybe they will be so excited they will not search too hard for things we really need like our night-vision scope, radios and GPS.”
We knew that we did not have the temperament or desire to remain long in Denpasar.  The Yacht Club manager recommended we leave the boat in the marina and head for the mountain town of Ubud.  They described Ubud as a green, mountain town filled with artists, dance events and weavers.  Ubud had been discovered and was growing fast, but they promised we would love it.  We locked up the sailboat and took an hour long taxi ride to Ubud where we found ourselves the rare visitors amid expats and locals. We walked around town and checked into a comfortable looking guesthouse.
OUR BASE IN UBUD
The owner was happy for guests and talked herself down in price. She took us to a lovely room with a balcony and bath for $15 a night. Breakfast and gecko included.  
‘Excuse me miss. Please come.’ I guided our lovely, smiling guesthouse hostess back to our room. Pointing at a very large gecko somehow attached to the ceiling, I said, ‘Very noisy.’ We had only been in the room five minutes before Glen bolted from the bathroom that a gigantic gecko had claimed as his very own space. The gecko took off running – tiny hips sashaying, unblinking eyes now staring down at us from the ceiling.
‘Gecko good’, our Bali hostess told us. ‘Eat bugs. If no gecko, look for snake. Maybe cobra.’ 
Gordon Gekko

Oh! Well then, that’s different. I guess that the constant ‘gecko’ croak they make is good. I thought I understood her limited English, or at least the gist. I translated her English for Glen and said, “I guess we only have to worry if we don’t hear the gecko. That means look around for a snake. Maybe even a cobra.’ So we named our gecko Gordon, after Gordon Gekko in the movie, Wall Street. 
Now that the gecko had switched in our mind from ‘pest’ to ‘pet’, we really liked having him around. I tried to feed him but Glen cautioned that Gordon Gekko needed to stay hungry and do his job eating bugs. Gordon must have done a good job because we never saw bugs in our room. That gecko seemed kind of tuned into us. He watched us a lot, and it was fascinating for us to watch him looking for bugs.  We talked about taking Gordon back to the boat as a low maintenance mascot, but knew he would be happier in his own environment. There was so much to see and do in Ubud we did not spend much time in the room with Gordon.
 An American expat couple we met while exploring, recommended we rent a car and driver to check out the beauty of the rest of the island and to see how most of the locals lived. When the guesthouse owner recommended his nephew, Wayan, as a driver and guide.  Wayan became ‘our man in Bali.’ Hiring a driver seemed decadent, but even though Ubud was much smaller than Denpasar, traffic was thick and still managed to move at breakneck speed. Hiring Wayan as our driver was originally for self-preservation but  he turned out to be a friendly source of information about all things Balinese.
Wayan - Our man In Bali 

I commented that Wayan must be a popular name in Bali – we had met several others. Wayan explained that in Bali you always have a one in four chance of getting someone’s first name right. There are only four names to remember; Wayan, Made, Nouyman and Ketut. It doesn’t matter if you are male or female… every person is given one of those four names according to their order of birth. Wayan the oldest, Made the second, Nouyman the third, and Ketut the fourth. If it’s a man use the prefix ‘I’(ee), if a woman the prefix ‘Ni’(nee). If there are more than four children, start over again with Wayan. “Too easy”, I told Wayan, thinking of the ever expanding arsenal of kids names in the United States.
 For the next couple of days, Wayan drove us all over the island. We visited artists’ studios tucked away in small villages and saw rice farmers working their deep green, terraced, crops by hand. Everywhere I looked I saw life as art or actual works of art being created. The thing that struck me most about Bali, was that religion and art were natural extensions of daily life. The Balinese live artfully and calmly.  They always appeared relaxed and smiling – even in crazy traffic situations. Balinese drivers seemed to have no objection to occasionally having to give money at police road blocks.  Wayan shrugged and told us that in Bali policemen are not paid enough to support their families.  Wayan factored that into our cost of his services.  
We never thought of our boat life as stressful – it was just how we lived. Yet it was surprisingly relaxing for Glen and me to take a break from what I realized was constant vigilance on the boat. Sailing across oceans a lot can go wrong and it can wear on even the most dedicated sailor.  Now, we were in Wayan’s care.  We sat back and let Wayan handle everything as well as make sense of our exotic surroundings.
At first I did not know if it was “correct” to ask Wayan about the Hindu religion. But with the warmth of the Balinese, Wayan explained the purpose of certain shrines and temples. Throughout Bali, and even on the roadsides, there are countless spirit-appeasing statuary of Hindu gods skirted in black, white or grey checkered cloth. “Black for evil spirits,” said Wayan, “white for nice spirits.” And gray? “For in-between spirits.” Those skirted Hindu gods would grant favors in return for nice offerings. Wayan and the local Balinese people made offerings to the gods in the form of flowers, food and incense.  They made the offerings every morning and sometimes during the day for really important things like bringing good luck or for more customers. Sometimes the tribute would be small like a fragrant frangipani flower or it could be an elaborate fruit arrangement or palm leaves plaited into an animal shape or flower.  Balinese women walked along roads with elaborate temple offerings of fruit and flowers carried Carmen Miranda-style on top of their heads. I thought that we must be visiting Bali at a special time of year, because almost every day we saw processions of women dressed in fine clothing, carrying tall offerings of food and fruit on their heads, heading to a temple. The offerings were placed among dozens, sometimes hundreds, of other offerings in special pavilions. Wayan explained that the gods enjoy the smell of the offerings, then they are taken home and eaten.

Bali appeared to have a temple for each of its 2.5 million people. Small temple altars stood guard outside of the doorways of houses and, according to Wayan, there were even more inside the house. I was curious to see what went on in Hindu temples and asked Wayan if foreigners were allowed to visit them. He responded that we were allowed to visit the Hindu temples but were required to wear sarongs and sashes. Glen needed to rent a  cap and skirt and I bought a Balinese skirt and sash for the occasion.  After a quick change into the appropriate attire, the famous Monkey Temple was our first stop. 
GAUNTLET OF MONKEYS
On the road leading to the Monkey Temple there were statues of monkeys carved from stone. The statues depicted monkeys with an air of gravitas and dignity that was lacking in their present behavior. The real monkeys screamed, hung from their tails, and swung among branches over the road. There is nothing like driving through a gauntlet of monkeys to remind you that this qualifies as an adventure. Finally, up the winding road at the end of the monkey gauntlet stood the ornate temple to all things monkey.
“It is better that you go to temple without Balinese people,” said Wayan, “Because if you do wrong, you just say, ‘Big sorry. I did not know.’” 
EYEING US UP FOR A SHAKEDOWN

“No, Wayan, you have to come too.” He’d warned us the day before about the roving monkeys, “They go in your hair. They jump on your shoulders. They scratch you. They take your glasses, take your money, take your camera. They want many fruits to give them back. If they take expensive thing, they want many more fruits.”
“Why build a temple to naughty monkeys?” I asked Wayan. “The monkey god is powerful in great Hindu stories” Wayan explained. He went on to tell the story of Hanuman, the flying white monkey god.  Hanuman was toting a mountain across the sky when he dropped a chunk, covered with trees and teeming with monkeys, on the very spot that is now the Monkey Temple. The place is still crawling with monkeys.  Clever, ambitious monkeys who would mug you for your camera and hold it as ransom for bananas.
As Wayan parked the car, I saw a sign posted:
‘ATTENTION: BE CAREFUL WITH YOUR BELONGINGS (ACCESSORIES) DURING VISIT TO THIS HOLLY MONKEY FOREST. TO AVOID UNDESIRABLE CASES CAUSED BY SOME AGGRESSIVE MONKEYS.’
The sign was a model of understatement, if not of spelling and punctuation. The sign maker didn’t mention that the human earlobe is an “accessory.” Of all the “cases” Wayan had witnessed in the Monkey Temple, perhaps the most “undesirable” occurred when “some aggressive monkeys” snatched the pierced earring — and accompanying piece of lobe – from the head of an unsuspecting visitor.
I was not up to monkey business, so Glen Wayan and I kept a big stick close by. Luckily, there were hundreds of Hindu worshipers at the Monkey temple for an important Hindu ceremony which diverted attention of the monkeys from us tourist bait. 
Keeping the stick high and visible, Wayan, Glen and I made our way out of the darting monkeys and safely back to the car without losing any “accessories”. Not knowing what other animal based temples lay ahead, I kept the stick.  There were plenty more Hindu animal gods and I wanted to be prepared. 
Our week in Ubud was a tonic. Glen and I both felt serene, relaxed and ready for the last big stretch of our circumnavigation. I had become too complacent  during our last seven months in Australia. Bali reminded me why we were voyaging around the world in the first place.  Now our adventure DNA was primed and we sail for Borneo.