Monday, 1 November 2010

I’m a Celebrity get me out of here....

...the TV programme with its jungle creepies and haircurling shrieks were what came to mind as I reached my arm into the thicket of the mangrove undergrowth. What was lurking in there to make me scream and jump a mile??? Today, I joined my family to a community conservation effort to clean up a mangrove forest that is in out neighbourhood. The mangrove is on the estuary flood plane, and when the river runs high, it brings with it a torrent of rubbish -  straws, sweet wrappers, plastic food wrappers, plastic bags.. not very nice at all. Apparently people here think throwing rubbish in the river or sea is a good way to get rid of it. The sea was full of plastic bobbing about, the sides of the roads have piles of litter, its really a problem. However, a good 600 people must not agree with this because that is how many people turned up to pitch in with the clean up! I was expecting, maybe 20 – 40, but 600! I could never imagine that happening at home, and I was really impressed. And they didn’t just turn up, they really went to town! I have some before and after pictures, but within two hours, you were looking at a natural scene of beauty!

Its quite a change to how I spent my Sunday last week, when I was a guest at a Hindu ceremony. One of the girls from the office invited us to attend a ceremony of her family temple, it was a special day for their temple and family gathered to mark the occasion. By family that is extended family, including relations so far off they were too hard to explain the connection. It was very beautiful to watch, if a little confusing to understand what was going on. I was happy to get dressed up for the occasion, although I was sweaty because we cycled there and had to change before we cooled down, but still, everyone else was sweaty too! We had a seat near the spiritual leader, and I was watching him bless the water, which was then splashed individually on everyone there, and put on rice and flowers which were worn by the family to bring wellbeing. The thing that is hard to get past is all the food which is offered, lots of fruit, corn, rice, meat...once the ceremony is over, it is put in the temple and locked up. Its hard to understand when you leave the family grounds to see someone going through the garbage looking for plastic to hand in for a few rupiah.  

I was also treated to some five start luxury this week when we were invited to attend a tourism and catering college in the neighbouring town. We were asked to eat in their practice restaurant so they could have a real “bole” (foreigner, or white skin – the term they like to shout at us on the street, or joke with us over prices in the market) experience! It was a real treat however I am unsure just how much I helped their English by saying, “that was lovely” after every course! Meeting the heads of the college was interesting though, and again, I saw just how much work these teens put into school, with the dream of working on a cruise ship or on one of the presetiege hotels around the island. It made me think I take a lot for granted, because these are jobs I don’t even highly value and here are people spending four years at school to compete for!

We have been learning work words this week at school, so I can now tell you that I will be an Pernasihat Pembanguan Ekonomi! Sounds cool eh!? It feels good to be able to talk about work and makes me feel reassured I will have some ability to communicate with my partner organisation when they visit soon.
Life in Bali can be very hard or an absolute paradise. Differences in wealth are complex and unfair, just as everywhere else. There is a lot of goodwill around to create change however there is alot of pride in status and job segregation as well. No one here wants to be an electrician or plumber, you have to go to Java to obtain that qualification, however there are works being done everywhere. The people pouring your cocktails have more training than the one who wired your deluxe suite flat screen TV! Someone told me the ability to say “I talked to bole’s today” is something to be more proud of than, “I can fit a bathroom”. For some reason, I find this sad.
But, to finish on a positive note, Sarah and I cycled all the way to Legain, just north of Kuta, to spend the day under an umberella watching the surfers and playing in the sea. It was bliss!, its so beautiful. Bobbing up and down like corks on the huge waves that crashed over us never got boring and the velvet sands beneath our feet on the way to our loungers surmounts to a memory I will surely recall in my top ten moments ever!
And now for the best bit..

Offerings and blessings during the Hindu ceremony

Yuli and me at the ceremony in full tradional dress

Legain beach....soooooo beautiful and great fun :)

the floor of the Mangrove forest - YUK!

Faiz and the info about why we should be more environmentally aware

The big clean....this is the same spot as above just about an hour later, 600 people work fast!

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside!

Oh I do like to be beside the sea!

No fish and chips at the beach here, we have satay skewers amongst many synthetically colourful drinks and snacks

This is my school!

On the right, is our teacher, Pa Nyoman....always smiling. (and on the left is fellow volunteer Bob, getting tucked into some bakso soup)

Cheers for reading, it feels nice to share!

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