"They who give have all things; they who withhold have nothing" Hindu Sage
There may be hundreds of ways to save this world and Bali is one of them. Yeah, I know, this is a travelogue but sometimes the road less travelled may hold the secrets of the universe, grasshopper. And Bali`s secrets run deeper than the obvious. The obvious are the lush and tropical forests, rice paddies rippling down hillsides like a painting, volcanoes touching the clouds and beaches that call the Indian Ocean paradise. It`s 8 degrees south of the equator and it is hot but the ocean breezes and mountainous inland slay the heat. You really won`t need air con at night. Tropical and beautiful but that`s not the story. The story is the people!
Wayan (first born) guides us through his country showing us all that is beautiful and all that is not. Wayan speaks 3 languages. He is a travel guide, historian and ambassador for his Bali and worth every cent we pay for the spiritual insight he sells. You need to hire a guide like this. He takes us to his home (after covering nearly every photo worthy inch of the island) . We watch his family preparing for a soon to come wedding celebration and feel like we belong. He tells me that his community needs a schoolhouse as he dreams of the value of education. His people are poor but so so generous. Wayan is angry at the politics of Indonesia and how it fails his people, but his heart is hopeful for it`s future.
Made (second born) feeds us like kings in his humble restaurant . Made was originally Wayan (first born) but after nearly dying from a childhood illness was renamed Made by his grateful parents. He shares his family and his music (this guy plays kick ass rock when he not playing Balinese) while we start to sense the generosity that backs the endless "smiles" of Bali. The obvious humility and kindness of Made`s family will forever affect my life. I`m gorging on Balinese spirit and we will be Made`s best customers for now, but I hope someone picks up the slack when we`re gone?
I spent a week in Ahmed, a fishing village on Bali`s east coast. It is a vision of Bali`s nature in more ways than one. It`s coastline plays breathless views to Lombok and back to Mt. Agung while it`s beaches are lined with jukung boats of a wannabe fishing community. Meanwhile young people in Ahmed are suffering chronic unemployment (listless youth without a reason to be; we know where that leads) and Fisherman come home with less than they need. One young man dreams of owning 10 goats so that he might support his family for life. (cost $800) Another dreams of owning his own fishing boat so that he could employ himself for life. (cost $600) I met a young man so desperate for employment that he admitted he "might be a terrorist" if the price is right. "Of course I`m just kidding he said" as he endures another day without hope. Here we have an island that is physically a measure of paradise with so much potential but economically is a measure of need that can come at such a low cost to people like you and I. Such is the paradox of Ahmed.
This sounds like the desperate third world. You bet! And guess what, you`l always have to be ready to take the good with the bad in the developing world. That`s the thing with travel. Sometimes it demands as much as it gives and a karma experience demands that we emphasize give. And that was easier than you can believe in Ahmed. My wife nursed children and pampered old men while I tried to convince young men that the future is their`s. We watched kids catching grasshoppers for dinner and women carrying loads of bricks (and anything else) on their heads like working class ballerinas. We were part of the family and left wanting more.
Now Bali`s economy suffers the effect of the bombs of more idiot terrorists who hope to scare the tourists away? And this I think I know. Life in Bali or Cambodia or Kenya can be better with us than without us. Their economy can be smarter and we can offer so much more but if we disappear this shite might get desperate. We offer them hope (which is much less than these people offer in return) and people without hope are dangerous for planet earth. And that being said I see the heart of the Balinese spirit as a true hope for mankind. No shite! People like this who can give so much while getting so little in return are a future I think we should envy. So go visit. Suck up the vibe and spend some money! Feel good about bribing your way into paradise. They need the economy and we need their spirit. A pact made in heaven!