What’s Going On

Sunday, September 3rd, 2017

Weekends aren’t really a thing here. Not because I’m unemployed and every day is a day off for me…but because the Balinese work pretty much every single day. Every. Single. Day. Some get one day off a week – a day off is called a “holiday” here. But the majority work every day, until they’re very, very old. I’ve seen women that look 80 years old carrying large piles of tree limbs on top of their heads. 

I went on a long scooter ride and stopped a couple times and just looked out at the scenery. I was admiring the view, but was also noticing everyone working in the fields. I was thinking about how these people work harder than anyone I’ve ever met, and they get paid next to nothing. The Balinese are very, very poor – they’re considered lucky if they have individual beds to sleep in. Most Balinese live with their entire families, sleep in one giant room on the floor and use sarongs as their blankets. No pillows. I never thought I’d take my pillow for granted…

The other day I visited the waterfall in Les, which is on the Northern end of Bali. The hike was about 25 minutes through a lush jungle – Golo was pointing out jackfruit trees, papaya trees, banana trees as we went along. Finally, we ended up at the waterfall with a temple next to it. Breathtaking.

I’ve always wanted to stand underneath a giant waterfall and it finally happened! I felt like a little kid, walking under the waterfall and standing there as the water was streaming down on top of me. I couldn’t help but scream and laugh out loud.

On the way back down the trail, we stopped at a little, tiny warung. Here we were in the jungle, and then out of nowhere, this place pops up with the most incredible chocolate scent ever. It would be like walking up to Rattlesnake Ridge in Seattle and having a little pop-up shop with homemade ice cream along the way. 

We walked in and I had a good chuckle. I know I’m a pretty laid back person and lean towards the hippy stereotype with my incense, tie-dye, and all the jazz. But I felt like I walked into an SNL skit here. I felt like the most natural hippy vegan would even walk in to this warung and say, “Whooooa, I don’t belong here.” The decorations, the music, and the woman who owned it were unlike anything I’ve seen or heard. The owner, Gene, would literally float as she walked across the shop. I never heard her speak, but I imagine if she did, a light whisper is as loud as she’d ever get. 

I found it very entertaining, but I will say, she makes some damn good smoothies. Fruit and chocolate straight from the jungle are the best ingredients, that’s for sure.

I am so loving getting to know the Balinese and their way of life. Yesterday, as I was coming back from my scooter ride, I heard my name being called as I was riding by the Harbor. “Andre!” For some reason, the Balinese all say André when they learn my name. It was one of the Diver’s Cafe staff members, Ketut. He was on his ‘holiday’ and hanging out with all of his friends. So I joined them as they were playing guitar and singing. I asked if they go anywhere at night and they said, “When we have no money, we make our own party!” People were coming and going, bringing snacks and drinks, dancing and singing. 

The Balinese were all curious about America – I’ve been asked multiple times to start a business with various people. American dollars go so far here, and they see me as “big money.” The Balinese don’t have money to start a business, but they own the land. So a few people have asked what type of business I’d start and they’d show off their land to me. (“This my land. You be my boss. We work together.”) If only they knew how little money I actually have! But they said they don’t chase money – if someone has a lot or a little bit of money, “everyone is same; everyone is human.” They may be poor, but they are so damn happy, no matter what.

As the light was disappearing, more and more people were showing up and everyone got really excited when the ‘community leader’ showed up because he’s really good at playing the guitar. He pulled out a binder with English-language songs and their lyrics. Lots of Eric Clapton, Guns N’ Roses, and Beatles. They asked me to sing and I was shocked that I actually did. In America, I need multiple drinks to get up the nerve to sing in front of anyone or at karaoke. But I was sitting at a beach with a bunch of Balinese who all sing a little off key anyway, so why the hell not? So I belted out “What’s Going On” by 4 Non Blondes. It may have been one of my favorite memories in my lifetime.

Other random thoughts:

  • Everyone smokes here. I get asked all the time to smoke and when I decline, they all react the same way: “You don’t smoke?? Why not??” Even right now, there are 6 people in the restaurant I’m at and every single person is smoking. 
  • Speaking of smoking, I had another noisy neighbor for a few days. Most people that come to Amed are here for only a couple of days. I’ve had several neighbors since I’ve been here, but one of them stayed for about 6 nights. She was a French woman who mean mugged me when I said hello to her. She wore bright red lipstick every day which made me laugh…we’re in Bali! No makeup necessary. She smoked all the time, so whenever she did, I’d escape into my room to avoid the smell. I wondered if she did the same thing whenever I lit up my incense… She hocked a loogie every 10 minutes so that was an added bonus. Luckily, this noisy neighbor didn’t last a week. I’m the only person at Diver’s Cafe now, which has been kind of fun to be honest.
  • The Balinese keep their cars immaculate. They are constantly washing them. I have yet to see a dusty car.
  • Another item on my “Things Cheaper Than a Starbucks Tall White Mocha” is a pizza and a small Bintang. $5.

Lastly, I’ll end with this.

The Balinese do memes…

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