We felt like royalty arriving in a convoy of a dozen or so SUVs at Umajero Village in the hills of North Bali.
With flags waving a welcome we entered the “warung” (clan compound) through a narrow entrance, past the garlanded Hindu god Ganesh, and were presented with fresh coconut milk – still in the shells.
We were surrounded by beautiful stone buildings with slate rooted and playfulness statues at the entrances. The beautiful sound of gamelans and drums filled the air and the wonderful aroma of roast suckling pig tantalised our taste buds.
We were seated under a sun shelter in front of a temporary stage – the sounds of the gamelan orchestra ramped up and four gorgeously dressed dancers slid gracefully onto the stage and performed an intricate dance, their hands extended with expressive fingers telling the story while their eyes, mouth, and every subtle tilt of the head provided nuance and colour.
Later we were also treated to more gamelan music and some traditional tales (in Balinese but with some limited translation), much of the story excellently told through mime by the two actors. Watching the faces of the local people and hearing them laugh added to the enjoyment.
We were then led to a number of tables groaning with food – spit roast pork, roast chicken galore, kebabs and all kinds of vegetables as well as rice and noodles, fresh tropical fruits, and delicate little sweet cakes.
We were just looking at the family temple when big fat drops of rain plopped onto the hot, dusty ground. We just had time to run for cover under the awning of the makeshift stage before the clouds opened and a tropical downpour thundered down.
This was the first rain for five or so months so the village was delighted and the headman declared us “good luck charms” for bringing the much needed soaking.