Wednesday, September 29, 2010

our new desire

It is not often you see Tom coveting a material possession unless it is surfboard or block of land with a view to a wave.  Until an ipad came into the camp.  My lord, we want one.  Now. All donations tax deductible.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


It is the third night in a row without power.  The village generator is broken and the solar power batteries can only store a few hours of electricity which is rationed to us from 2am to 6am - really handy. We have the candles lit and the LED emergency task lighting showing the way.  

Glad to be home after our visa run.  Hours and hours of sitting in airports, planes, buses, trains and embassies does not a vibrant surfer make. 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

dowry payment

The dowry payment event is a vegans nightmare.  The whole village has turned out to see four pigs slaughtered, hacked into bits and boiled in half a 44 gallon drum over an open fire.  Fun for the whole family.  Rice is cooked in woks the size of a small bath, and served as the glue to accompany the hunks of pig fat and skin.  All this at 9.00am before I have had my green smoothie...

Local custom is that the groom's family pay an agreed amount to the bride's family, and then the groom's family hold a huge shin-dig to raise the money.  An "office" is set up at the front of the house, and a record made of each donation.  The village chief keeps the record book, and a check is made on those who do not show up or make a  generous donation.  The adage is, what goes around comes around - if you donate now, when your daughter is ready to wed, you will reap the benefits in return. For your money you get a free bowl of rice and pig, a glass of water and a take-away bag of pig fat.  Mmmm, hold me back.

Just like an Australian barbie, the men hover around the meat and the women do everything else.  A great fuss is made over the meat table; animated discussion over the who gets the prize chunks and how much should be bagged up for later.  Sticks are waved to shoo the flies and various dismembered pieces are prodded and siphoned off into baskets to be handed around to the hungry crowd.  Just grab a greasy chunk and chew.  If you would like more sauce with your breakfast, head on over to the boiling vat and spoon out some of the pork water and scum.

Monday, September 20, 2010

september session

A new swell has arrived and we are leaving tomorrow to go on a visa run to Kuala Lumpur.  Aquaman is on a mission to get his fill of waves and salt water rushing through his gills to tide him over until we return on Sunday.  Tinggi and Tom took the Tin Tin out on the falling tide, so are forced to keep surfing until the tide is high enough to putt back over the lagoon - just a lazy six hour session.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

the magic shop

It is a long bum numbing motorbike ride to town in search of lemons, paint and standing floor fans (for a friend).  The citrus season is coming to an end and there is only one stall at the markets selling tiny lemons at a ridiculous price - he obviously senses our desire.   They are vital to our salads, and papaya isn't the same without a squeeze of juice, so we buy 40 for $6. 

We treat ourselves to an iced smoothie from a cheery road-side vendor and sit beneath the shade of a vast mango tree, loaded with ripening fruit.  Woopee, mango season is imminent.

It is rare for us to be in town with time to spare; without a bemo driver waiting, or an overwhelming wish to get home after a long day of travel.  There is a shop we call "The Magic Shop", that seems to have one of everything you want and two of everything you didn't even know you wanted.  In one glass cabinet they have :

Powerpoints, drumsticks, swimming caps, dominoes, gun sights, air freshener, torches, universal remote controls, iron, am/fm radio, pool cues, recorders, taps, electric door holder, guitar strings, printer ink refill kit, calculator, drill chucks, aquarium filter & a set of pool balls.

I have never seen anyone wearing a swimming cap - they can't even swim, nor is there a swimming pool - what good is an electric door holder without electricity, and who the hell can afford an aquarium?  Was this precious stuff donated from abroad and locked away in the cabinet for posterity?  Tom eyes off a copy Yamaha guitar for A$100 and I check out the soccer balls and fan selection, but we leave empty handed.

On the way home we stop to admire a collection of lontar baskets  hanging on the outside of a simple thatched house.  This is the peak season for collecting juice from the lontar palm, and the farmers climb their trees twice daily, at around 3.00am and again at 3.00pm.  

This fit looking gentleman owns 40 palms and spends four hours each day tapping the sweet syrup.  The locals have thrived on the nutrient rich juice for generations, and it is reported that people in the interior of the island have survived for long periods with the juice as their sole calorie intake.  Today, their diet includes rice, a small amount of veges, and fish if near the coast.  You can be sure that man's physique is not from working out at the gym and drinking protein powder.

He ushers me inside, whips back a dust sheet, and insists I take a photo of him with his prized entertainment collection.  Now here is a hut with a dirt floor, no running water and no toilet, and he has two t.v. sets, booming speakers and a satellite dish. I can never work out their priorities.

Monday, September 13, 2010

marriage request

I was asked by our washing lady (and friend) to photograph her brother-in-law's "masuk minta" celebration.  The literal translation is "enter request", and is the first of a three step process in the local marriage tradition.  The groom-to-be and his family travel to the bride-to-be's house in order to discuss arrangements for the wedding and officially ask for their blessing as a couple.

Jacob Seli-Lenggu : groom-to-be
travelling to the bride in style

The bride is hidden behind closed doors in her house, while the groom is tucked away next door.  The groom's party, dressed in skirts made from a heavy ikat weaving, offer gifts of make-up, plastic kitchen containers & hair accessories to the bride's family.  The  presents are draped in crocheted doilies and plastic flowers that will become cherished table decorations in the newleywed home.
The "best man" holds a flourescent lamp, and much fuss is made over the "light of the Lord" coming down to bless the union.  The fluro disappears into the dark room where the bride is sweating, and the best man's duties are done.

After long speeches and prayers by the village chief and the priest, the immediate families, each with with an elder uncle spokesperson, sit down to chew the fat over cake and sickly sweet coffee.  I am trapped in the small room, the air still, hot and clouded with cigarette smoke.  The discussions go for over an hour and cover the date of the wedding, venue, how many people each family can invite and who is going to provide the food.  "I've got one cow, but that won't feed 300 people...can you donate some goats and chickens?"

Outside, a large crowd waits patiently for the announcement, and the promise of a meal and piece of cake.  Finally, the groom is summoned to grab his girlfriend and appear before the elders and community, to hear what plans have been made for their big day.  Each is asked in turn why they wish to get married, and they both reply "for love."  I am guessing there are three possible answers to this : for love, because she's pregnant, or because our parents said so.

thank god you got me out of that hot box
when's the food coming?
There are hand shakes and nose rubs all round, then a feed of rice, boiled beef, noodles and wilted greens.  I graciously decline, claiming the cake and coffee filled me up, and I really must be going home to see Tom. 

The next event is the "belis", or dowry payment; held at the groom's house with more rice, boiled pig and painfully long speeches.

happy place

A cup of tea and an Inside Out mag.  Kicking back on the daybed, with views to the wave and the incoming tide.  Ahhh, happy days.

Friday, September 10, 2010

ladies in waiting

Our stand up boards live under the bedroom floor, waiting to be unleashed on the lagoon when wind and tide conditions align. Stand-up paddling is great rehabilitation after my knee operation and a most pleasant bonding experience with my hubby.  All hail the SUP (don't tell the boys I said that). 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

indonesian women don't get fat

With specimens this small, it isn't hard to be a member of the 30 bananas a day club. So dainty and full of flavour.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

bo diddley

Meet our new "pet" goat - Bo Diddley.  She is very inquisitive and likes to hang out on the front steps watching our every move.  Bo is pregnant and hopefully will deliver healthy kids soon.  Until then, we are keeping her well fed with our fruit and vege scraps. 

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