Friday, August 27, 2010

south coast sojourn : part 2

Outside of our village or the island’s main town, the majority of locals live a subsistence lifestyle; raising a few pigs and goats, fishing, and tapping nutrient rich juice from the lontar palm.  For those lucky to own land near the wave, the opportunity exists to lease to a bule, or make a small income from tourism and development. In certain geographical conditions, seaweed farming has been recently introduced, and provides the potential for reasonable returns.  The money usually goes toward a mobile phone or scooter, and the traditional home is demolished to make way for exalted concrete brick walls.

The seaweed is grown as a monoculture; tied to ropes and floats, suspended in the clear, warm water.  After 3-4 weeks it is harvested and dried in the sun on simple palm frond racks, then bagged up for sale and shipped to a processing plant in Surabaya.  

With the sun at its zenith, we stop for a dip in one of nature’s finest swimming pools.  Like stepping into a  1980’s menthol cigarette advert; and to think it is just an ordinary Friday...

south coast sojourn : part 1

The ocean looks like a summer lake and Aquaman doesn’t have any architect duties, so we pack a parcel of bananas, water, camera & paints for a morning adventure to the south side of the island.  First stop is coffee at Axel & Becca’s “eco-shack”, and an inspection of the bungalow Tom designed.  For many years, Tom and I were the youngest expats on the island, until Axel & Becca left their family homes and spirited social lives in Bali for an isolated patch of hillside in the east.   
Away from the neat stone fences, rendered white walls, and tin and concrete “affluence” of our village, the homes become more austere:  dirt floor, slatted coconut walls, palm frond roof and glass-less windows.   Our destination is one of the few remaining “grand” traditional homes; essentially a huge roof - almost to the ground - looking somewhat like a haystack, under which animals and humans cohabit on various levels. 
Inside, it is dark and cool.  Worn slabs of timber frame the space,  and serve as seats by day and sleeping platforms by night.  A few faded posters of Indonesian pop stars, mosquito nets and plastic mugs are the only modern interruptions.  Goats and pigs feed in the shade next to the kitchen, and an ancient woman sits motionless in the corner, halfway between this life and another.

Almost none of these houses survive, since the local administration in the 1970’s encouraged their demolition on the grounds that they were unhygienic and old fashioned. They decreed that the houses be pulled down and replaced with the “modern Dutch bungalow model.” Ground built houses of concrete blocks and tin, though poorly suited to local conditions, have come to be viewed as highly desirable and prestigious.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

going green

At the market today we scored our best ever haul of lettuce and rocket, and not just any old lettuce - fancy lettuce.  It is the feasting time of season - middle of the dry - when sunlight and water combine to provide us with an abundance of carrots, tomatoes, greens, bananas, papaya, cabbage & cucumbers.  Not a huge variety, but at least there is plenty of it.  The lettuce takes up more room in the fridge than in our stomachs.

I made a pared down version of rocket pesto (rocket, sunflower seeds & water)  to have with salad and fresh spring rolls, and a raw tomato, carrot & papaya soup, garnished with dill from our garden. 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

halcyon days

For those of you out there suffering through a winter's day, avert your eyes from the grey sky and gaze into the turqouise water of the lagoon.....

Where the bloody hell are ya?

Friday, August 20, 2010

all day low

During neap tides (half moon), the tidal variation is less than with spring tides (full and new moon), and the water level changes slowly.  For a couple of days each month the lagoon is empty from around 9am to 6pm, and so the “pool” is closed during the hottest part of the day. Oh the troubles of this island life.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

grub farming

The locals eat almost anything that moves, but unlike their indigenous Australian cousins, they do not like witchetty grubs.  A shame really, because I unknowingly farmed 10 massive grubs in the compost bucket.  They would have made a feast.  I transferred them to the mulch around our coconut tree, but in comparison to the moist manure, the sawdust might be a bit scratchy on their bellies.   Should have taken them over to the meat eaters next door to see what they are really made of.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

raw food rant

Last night our expat neighbours had a conference over Bintangs and nasi goreng special, then sent forth a messenger to inform Tom that they all agree he is too thin and therefore must be unwell.   Yes, he isn't a huge bloke when compared to the "normal" (read overweight) Australian, but since when does fat = healthy?  We don't go around telling them they are fat, should stop eating animal products, give up alcohol and generally clean up their act.   He can out surf any of them, lift heavy things and perform acts of daring and chivalry.  He is never sick, yet his lack of subcutaneous body fat indicates to them that he has "an issue."  My god, when will the insanity of our overfed society end?  The perception of what constitutes a "normal" body size and shape is so skewed in our society - the fattest on earth - that a human in supreme health is questioned and berated. 

I say long live Aquaman; the lean, strong king of my world.

Now all go off and have a green smoothie.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

power day projects

Sunday is the day to knock of all the little projects that need a power drill.  We usually have a list, then get carried away using the blender and computer, and the power goes off, leaving the jobs unfinished for another week.  There is always night time, but after dinner and a shower, I never feel like digging out the tools and being handy.

 Today, my studio took another leap forward toward completion, with the erection of a mozzie net over the daybed, and a pegboard for photos, inspiration and my annual planning calendar.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

triple housewarming

A triple house warming in our little expat community is cause for big celebration.  The surround sound building has ceased and it is time to survey the completed projects.  Uncle Gerry has two new bedroom pavilions with outdoor bathrooms, Pappa Kel has a double storey bungalow with room to woo a woman, and John Tinggi has relocated two doors down to his new pad with a solar system that could power the entire neighbourhood.  The party is a chance to thank the workers, and get the villagers and expats together to share a meal, dance and a swig a few bottles of Bintang.   

Our morning smoothie is interrupted by the gruesome sound of four goats meeting an early death.  I am sure they thought it hilarious to do the slaughter within ear-shot of the vegans.  The women gather at 8.00am and begin to chop vegies, boil huge woks of rice over the open fire, and wash vats of bloody goat’s meat.  We decide to take our own dinner.

It comes to Gerry’s attention that some prime cuts of goat make their way over the fence to waiting mates, and bottles of beer are recapped and disappear into the darkness.  With both resources paid for at premium prices, and laid on free to everyone, this is disappointing, but overlooked without much fuss.  

The presence of a "ladyboy" from the city causes a major stir; decked out in tight stretch jeans, red stilettos and full stage makeup.  She/he is a brother/sister of a local, and works as an entertainer and masseuse in questionable circumstances.  All focus is on her crotch, and to what degree she is or isn't a woman - for beneath the jeans there isn't much room for a bulge.  For a conservative protestant village, she/he raises many eyebrows and questions. 

Friday, August 13, 2010

lagoon therapy

My lagoon water therapy has begun in earnest, and I am like a yacht under full sail with a broken rudder.  The arms are going, but the right leg lags behind.  I manage a short stand-up paddle session and a waddle up the beach to Colin and Linda’s.  Slowly, slowly.  It is heaven to sleep with a sheet rather than be trapped under the layers of a doona and blanket, trying to keep my beanie, pillows and hot water bottle in order.

I am amazed at how quickly patterns change, when on my first visit to our toilet I reach for the flush button!  I put the first banana skin in the bin rather than tossing it out to the goats, and after only two weeks of a living with a well stocked fridge, I am at a loss to create something out of cabbage, tomato and cucumber.

Tom is thrilled with the three kilos of dates I brought back, and I have to ration the Lindt 75% dark chocolate one square at a time. 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

on the hop

Three days on crutches, two days on the hop, then back on the plane for the trip home to warm water, bikinis and my Aquaman.  36 hours from door to door; limping on and off two flights, one ferry, four taxis and one bus. 

An untimely need to pee at the ferry terminal sees me confronted with a squat toilet.  With a knee that can’t bend, this presents quite a problem, and I have to get in touch with my masculine side while keeping my pants off the wet floor, and myself from slipping down the hole.  I’ll let you imagine the rest...

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