One gloriously sunshiney day, the all powerful Balinese Gods manifested some sublimely potent juju, bringing us four dearheart friends together, at a seductive villa, where the Ocean beguiles, Comfort is indulgently handcrafted, and Service makes you smile out loud. Boom shaka laka!
After 17 glorious days and nights at the ridiculously beautiful jungle haven, in rural Ubud, known as Villa Sagitta, we switcheroo-ed. From the jungle to, by the sea, by the sea, by the beautiful sea.
Our new home-sweet-home-away-from-home, Villa Cocoa Maya is owned by the same couple, so we knew right from the get-go that we could be smugly confident with this particular two villa stay. We were so right!
A few mornings back, filled with curious anticipation, we all piled into Ketut's (Villa Sagitta's driver) vehicle for our last trip with him, to Villa Cocoa Maya.
We turned down a quirky, lazy, off-the-beaten-track lane, lined with a few villas, local shops and oodles of tropical vegetation.
Bali does 'intriguing' so well.
Chickens clucked and kafuffled out of the way of our vehicle as we pulled up in front of the gate leading into Villa Cocoa Maya.
Nosy parker necks, bedecked with shiny beads, earthy chains and keepsake lockets were straining to see further, to see beyond the gate.
We spilled out of the van, bypassing lush gardeny grounds, towards the sea......we could hear it....we could see peeks of azure, and then, "Whooeeee, baby!"
We drank it all in, or should I say we chug-a-lugged it all in, from the sea, to the villa, to the sea, to the pool, to the grounds, to the gardens, then to each other. Ha, ha! We all look like the cat that swallowed the canary.
Silly grins, happy eyes, and that rare and deliciously potent rush of blissful goosebumps.
The villa staff greeted us with charming smiles, easy welcome chatter, icy cold facecloths to cool off a bit, and a cold thirst quencher. Aaahhh. Life is good.
We quickly gathered ourselves, with a couple of the gracious staff ladies, to check out Villa Cocoa Maya, and each pick the just-right-for-us bedroom. Our looky-looing skills revved up, in all the right ways. Thoughtful furnishings, distinctive artwork, and timeless Balinese-ness quite enthralled us, here there and everywhere, as we moved about capacious rooms and hallways.
This villa felt so good, in a very different way from Villa Sagitta. Maybe best way to describe it, would be that Villa Cocoa Maya has a new world Bali rhythm to it. Um, maybe kind of like this. Yeahhh, that's it.
While, on the other hand, Villa Sagitta plunked there on the rim of the jungle, right where it belongs, rather exudes the feel of old world Bali. And would sound more like this.
Quicker than you'd think, our bedrooms were chosen, all with lip-smacking oceanviews.
Oh goody, goody.
The floor to ceiling windows in my bedroom, the Ikat room, kept luring me to them, repeatedly, to quietly marvel. "Made you look!" Indeed.
Luggage was thrown open, to quickly pull out just enough things to start to settle into our new quarters. It was an unspoken, yet unified, race to reconvene out by the pool. The ocean, the urge to explore, to discover, beckoned.
In those moments, we just kind of all wandered the lush tropical grounds, dipped our toes in the ocean, found different spots to mellow out. Swam, sunned, talked to the birds. It's almost as if we were under some kind of soulful, blissful, spell. Together, separately. Instinctively no one wanted to break that spell. So cool!
When we came out of 'it' and chattered, later that day, we giggled at how this vow of silent appreciation overtook us.
As the afternoon progressed, we had the opportunity to meet beautiful Komang and most of her lovely staff. They all serve up, effortless, delightful energy, attentiveness and care, at every turn.
Staying in a private villa, with hand-chosen staff is totally the best of both worlds. Not only do we get to meet, get to know the locals, but we have the privilege of having them host us, like only they can. Lucky ducks are we.
Villa Cocoa Maya is stunning, comfortable, clean and tidy, offering up a most enviable lifestyle, for however short or long a time. But, I say, wholeheartedly without the kind, friendly, efficient, grace and experience of Komang, Made, Gede, Murni and Ketut, it just wouldn't be the same.
Later, in the afternoon, with freshly made Margaritas, in hand, we all went up, up, up, to Donna's Joglo Suite, which encompassed the entire third floor in all it's glory. The suite itself, and the views, breathtaking.
Aaaah, so many gutsy, spicy, sweet, seductive pleasures, all at once, right here, right now, on this Island of the Gods. Frangipani-scented sunshine, salty ocean breezes, kindred spirits, indulgent seaside mansion, irresistibly pampering staff, the artistry of beauty. Bliss, galore.
That said, I'm getting hungry. Is it dinner time yet? Earlier this afternoon we found Ketut cutting up freshly caught mahi mahi, so it was a given that we all ordered Fish & Chips, for dinner. Who wouldn't?
The lanai table was set, icy cold Bintangs were opened, and hot, deliciously prepared fresh mahi fish and chips were served al fresco. The deliciousness of villa life, in Bali.
Happy, little geckos, chirped and skittered, like only they can. One of my favorite delights of tropical nights.
All of us were ready to head to our bedrooms quite early. It wasn't really because we were tired yet, it was more about slipping into those wonderfully comfy beds, with a good book, and to simply enjoy the soft indulgence of our own villa spaces.
Selamat malam. Sweet dreams.
♫ ♪ Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah, Zip-A-Dee-A, Wonderful feeling, Wonderful day. ♫ ♪
I wake up early, throw myself together, and head down to go out to the lanai, and the beach. There's a soft morning mist laying over the ocean, and a bit of back and forth as local families start to ready for their fishermen, coming in soon, with the fresh catch of the day.
We have a front row seat to watch the pageant of Balinese Fishermens' lives, and how it encompasses the whole family.
One of my favorite things, about the flawless daily routine of this piece of Candidasa oceanfront, is how the Grampas watch over the kids. After all, the wives and mamas are busy, busy, scurrying to help bring the jukungs ashore and get the fresh fish up to their homes to do whatever needs to be done, pronto.
Being tucked away, just a stone's throw from Candidasa, here at Villa Cocoa Maya, perfectly parked on this idyllic slice of oceanfront, gifts us with these potent glimpses of Balinese village life, which goes on essentially unchanged. Or so it feels.
Partaking, almost first hand, in snippets of this side, and that, of the rather mythic culture of Bali, is just one of the sweet rewards of staying at Villa Cocoa Maya.
We are so feeling so damn smarty-pants-ish with our Bali accommodation choices! Who wouldn't?
As it's only a 5-10 minute walk into Candidasa, we decided to sauntered our way down the narrow tropical, very local, curiously intriguing, lanes, leading to the shops, sights and delights of town. Fun was had, Balinese made goods were bought, Kodak moments were captured.
Then home again home again, to swim and splash, to laze and graze, in the sultry, luscious, brand of relaxation, generously dished out at our villa. Life is so flippin' good.
As usual, as the four of us unravel the pure satisfaction of yet another afternoon that overflows our souls and our senses with sublime gratitude, it must be time to crack open some icy cold Bintangs.
So we do. And then it's time, once again, to inspect the dinner menu. Ketut makes note of our cravings and sets about concocting in the kitchen. Like only she can. Just for us.
The late afternoon sun has once again pulled out it's beguiling palette, so as to tempt more ooohs and aaahs from us. Works every damn time!
We happily munch down our home prepared dinners, al fresco, of course, toasting our blessings and chattering about deliciousness, and what tomorrow might bring.
My Chicken Curry with noodles, instead of rice, is once again, sooooo good. That said, I'm determined to try something different tomorrow night, as everyone's dinners have them smiling deliciously.
I look around the lanai, grounds and villa as I head up to my room, smiling from the inside out at all the irresistible sensory overload I have been privy to today.
I just love snuggling into my very own crazy comfy room and winding down however it feels best, in the moment.
Nighty night. Sweet dreams.
You know how honey is the very essence of sweet, but so very much more?
Like......warm, earthy, floral, robust, bold, natural, fresh, buttery, delicious.
Let it be said,
Villa Cocoa Maya is madu.
( ♫ ♪ With kisses sweeter than wine ♫ ♪)
Suksma! Komang, Gede, Ketut, Made, Murni.
**Stay tuned for Part 2, Villa Cocoa Maya**