An auspicious day to start building….

Nyoman came daily with his big smile and spade.  Working in the tropical heat, and taking care to look out for snakes in the dense jungle undergrowth, he moved the banana, coconut trees and chilli into the garden area and levelled the land.

Once the land was cleared we needed to identify an auspicious day for the foundation ceremony.  There are auspicious days for everything here – from starting a business, to having a haircut, putting the roof on a house, making a beehive or castrating an animal!

Shrine on my land

The auspicious day came and Pasek’s father who is a lay priest (Mangku) came to do the ceremony.  A temple was made in front of my eyes from branches and many offerings were placed both upon it and below it.

These were either little silver dishes containing fruit, rice, flowers and incense, or flowers and old coins in banana leaves.  They were for the upper and lower gods i.e. the good, and the not so good, spirits.  This is the basis of the balance of life and spirituality in Bali – if you don’t have both sides, it’s like a bird with only one wing –  unbalanced.

We knelt on the bamboo mat in front of this natural and beautiful shrine, that had been cobbled together just minutes ago, and went through a ceremony that I wouldn’t have dreamed about back in London.

My Foundation Ceremony

I’d already been living in a house that I really liked the design of and so I pointed to it and said “can you build me one of these, but with a few modifications”.  That sounds really simple and in most ways it is.

Behind the scenes I have my very capable, smiling and indispensable friend, Pasek, who manages everything.  He gets cheap rates for materials, negotiates with the builders, has an eye for quality and comes up with practical ideas.  I could not do this without him!

Two days after the ceremony building materials were arriving as a stream of women carried the heavy volcanic stones and black sand from the roadside all the way down the long path to my newly flattened and blessed land.  Yes, it is women who do this heavy work in Bali.  At first sight this seems fundamentally wrong, but you have to appreciate that women carry heavy offerings on their heads from when they are small children so you cannot fit western norms and expectations into Balinese culture.

Interestingly it was men who carried the cement, wood and long lengths of metal rods down to what now was a building site.  A building site where the only tools were a few unusual shaped spades, an empty metal drum, a pump, a hammer and a saw.  Were they really going to make the foundations with just this minimum amount of equipment?  The answer was ‘Yes’.

Foundations almost complete

One month later I stood there looking at the completed foundations and 12 pillars, standing tall, which formed the outline structure of the house.  It looked impressive, I was beaming with happiness and couldn’t wait to start building the walls and floors.

At this point, unfortunately, the money that I ‘knew’ was coming from England – didn’t.  I was stuffed!  I had a house that was at a very early stage of being built and I had no money left to finish it.  I look forward to telling you the next part of the story once the money arrives…..

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