Sunday, October 19, 2008

Readers and Writers Festival, hot hot heat

Hi folks,
It's been a hot week here in Sibang Kaja, where the weather is turning increasingly more humid by the day. I don't know exact temperatures, but I would guess it's been in the mid-80s with full sun and humidity during the day. Thankfully, I spent most of my day in a shaded classroom!
This past week in the kindergarten we had a special event-oven building day! We're in the process of constructing a clay oven outside of the kindergarten so that we can eventually do some cooking with the kids. Pizza has been a much requested item! While workers were hired to construct the base of the oven, the kids (and some parents) spent some of Wednesday morning stomping in the mud. You'll see more of what I'm talking about once I put pictures up. Don't have the camera now, but there are some pretty adorable/ hilarious ones of ten or so kids in rubber boots, dancing in the mud.
Also this past week was the annual Ubud Readers and Writers festival. I didn't actually make it to any of the events last year at this time, but made it to several this year. It's one of the largest literary festivals in the world, with different authors, novelists, poets, and artists coming to perform and share their work. One of the teachers here at Green School, Pak Sam, performed on slam poetry night- probably the funniest thing I've seen since I've been here! He teaches grades 5+6, and after some pretty raunchy humor, it was quite amusing to find some of his students' parents in the crowd. They all had great senses of humor, though, and seemed to enjoy his antics!
I don't think I've ever seen quite so many tourists in Ubud as I have recently. I guess it's that time of year, with the festival going on, as well as the Asian Water Games (?) happening down in the Kuta beach area. I'm hoping to check out some of the water sports next weekend.
I have special visitors coming this Tuesday night...Brittany and her boyfriend, Garth! I am so psyched to see them, haven't seen Brit since New Years last year when we celebrated at her house in PA. She's been a close friend since we met in China two years ago! Since then we've both some exciting adventures. She'll be arriving here after traveling throughout Southeast Asia. I'm not sure the plans yet, but I'm hoping she'll get to see the best of the best during her week long stay.
I've been wishing I could write better about the particular things I experience in Bali everyday- those things that I've come to just accept as normal parts of my life here, but really might seem strange and unusual to someone in the states. Even the fact that chickens are roaming all over my yurt right now is, perhaps, somewhat different!
Other unique things...I guess I could call this, "you know you've lived at Green School too long when.."
- You think it perfectly normal to shoo chickens out of your kitchen.
- Flushing a toilet feels like a bizarre, foreign luxury (we use sawdust in the compost toilets)
- You carry a poncho with you on your motorbike at all times.
- You can't even imagine not owning a motorbike- essential transport when you're in the middle of a village.
- The hundreds of street dogs don't bother you anymore.
- It's normal that your shower is outdoors, and instead of having walls, has bamboo posts and plants.
- You don't even remember what it's like to drink tap water.
- Your conversations go something like, "I woke up with a scorpion on my shoulder," or, "Did you hear the snake catcher caught three poisonous ones near classroom two?"

It's strange to think there are so many things I don't even second-guess anymore. It's important to me that I stay observant, though, because some of these cultural particularities make for the most interesting stories!

All for now,

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Yurt material

Idul Fitri holiday and Nusa Lembongan

Hey everyone!
It's Sunday afternoon and I just got back from spending the weekend away in Nusa Lembongan, a small island off the southeast coast of Bali. This week was Idul Fitri, a nationally-recognized Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan. People all over Indonesia had the week off to celebrate (Green School had Wednesday-Friday off). After recovering from a quick bout of stomach upset (dairy? Indonesian? Wheat? - the verdict's still out on what caused it) I drove down to Sanur on the moto- first time I've driven the bad boy by myself for such a long distance and I'm proud to admit- no stopping to ask for directions!
The ferry ride was a relatively quick 1 ½ hour ride, upon which I met a guy named Matt from Seattle...we compared job stories. Matt: third year law school student, interning at Jakarta insurance firm, hating his life at the moment. Me: well, you know. He seemed envious of my chosen career path and we bantered back and, quality of life, job markets, bamboo...we decided that we both had it pretty good getting to spend the holiday in a place so beautiful as Bali.
Anyways arrived at NL to meet up with some of my friends and colleagues from school whom had arrived the day before. Discovered quite quickly that the island is beautiful! Actually, it reminds me a lot of the Gili Islands off the coast of Lombok except that NL is much bigger. The island's comprised of two villages with a total population of roughly 7,000. Spent the couple days exploring- walked up and down the long stretches of beach, rented a bike and biked around the whole island, discovered a beautiful “golden-gate bridge” connecting to another smaller island, took a boat out to snorkel, followed my favorite fish around under water, and perhaps best of all...took a canoe through the mangroves! Man, these mangroves were absolutely incredible. We hired a guy to take us through this canal that was situated directly amongst the mangroves- the whole experience was really pretty magical. We felt like we were in some sort of fairy-tale land and imagined gnomes hopping out from behind a tree, the water beginning to burble and the roots beginning to move and talk. I'm so glad I went because I thought it was just another tourist scam but, thankfully, I stood corrected!
Needless to say, the weekend was fantastic. After returning today to Sanur, Leah and I stopped for some kelapa muda (young coconut) on the beach. This was some of the best kelapa muda I've ever had, served straight out of the coconut with a spoon and straw, you drink all the coconut water out and then scoop the inside “jelly” out with a spoon. Delicious!
Enjoy the pics from the trip- most are of NL, while others are of my yurt (aka- my home!) at Green School.