So when a Balinese woman kidnapped me and dragged me out to her house in the middle of nowhere and spoke Japanese with me for six hours straight, I was understandably nervous. We met at an aerobics class, and she immediately invited me to her country home, but I balked, as I felt anxious about it.
I suppose I could have stopped halfway to her house, once I realized I was about to become completely lost, and that she had no intention of bringing me home until the morrow. I could have turned around and asked for help to get home.
But I didn’t.
Thank God I did, because my experience that weekend restored my faith in humanity in general, as well as in Balinese people specifically.
She is a tour guide, but only in Japanese. Once she figured out that I could speak broken Japanese, she talked my willing ear off at our aerobics class, and then talked my worried-but-willing ear off at her house. Since I was attending class at the local gym instead of the touristy one, she was one of the only people I could speak to at class, and proved to be a fun conversation partner.
When we arrived, I found out that she lives in a huge mansion/compound that her architect husband designed. The grounds will one day soon be a resort with guest houses for people to stay in, but at the moment it hasn't opened yet so they have it all to themselves. As we arrived it started pouring heavily, so I ended up staying overnight.
I was intensely nervous at first, as I had only met her twice, and was not at all prepared to stay. Once I relaxed into it and allowed myself to feel safe, I enjoyed my time thoroughly.
In short, she took care of me.
Because it was Sunday, she, her brother and sister all had the day off, so all the cousins showed up to disport themselves in the giant pool, enjoy a bunch of food together and express love as families do. They included me in every part of the day as if I had been there my entire life, and I spent the day playing in the pool and assisting two or three of the kids back and forth across the pool dozens of times.
The kids spoke almost no English, my friend Japanese, and her brother fluent English. They each work as tour guides in their respective language-specialty, and are an absolute font of spicy and tame local knowledge.
At one point I had four of the kids repeating at the top of their lungs in the pool how to count to ten in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Mandarin, German, Japanese and Italian, and they in turn taught me to count in Indonesian and Balinese. Which, naturally, I have promptly forgotten. Though, I won’t forget this day for a long, long time.
I feel humbled, honored and happy to have had this experience. I also feel jazzed and pizzazzed to learn more about language and culture every day, and connect heart-to-heart around the world!