Sorry for the delay in posts, the Internet is very slow everywhere I’ve been in Bali, so it is fairly difficult to get anything accomplished, except surfing, which is fairly easy to get accomplished.
I am currently staying at a Hostel called Jacko’s place, which is kind of an off the map surf hostel where a lot of older Aussies come to spend a couple months for the summer. It’s an interesting dynamic because the older guys know a good amount of Indonesian, so they often chat with the local hostel owners in Indonesian instead of talking to the younger surfers that are traveling through. Though I would like to be stationed at a hostel with a few more international tourists, I think this hostel is a good place for me to be situated as there is a lot of local knowledge on the area, and it keeps me from just joining travelers on their vacations.
I have met a couple of cool folks from San Francisco, and they were hanging out with a Dutch couple, so we had a few days of sightseeing and having nicer sitdown dinners. The couple from Holland was extremely funny and interesting to be around, so it was good to get my time here started with some friends. Now, though, they have left, and its interesting how difficult it is to try to make Balinese connections, as their language is completely foreign to me, and their English is not really to the extent of being able to talk about a world surfing reserve.
A Floridian named Curtis from the local nonprofit that’s cleaning the garbage situation here and installing a septic system has been really accommodating, friendly, and helpful, but he has been here for two years after embarking on a project that he thought would take a couple of months, and its interesting to see how it has affected him. The lack of education on the effect of garbage and sewage on water quality makes getting anything accomplished extremely difficult.
Bali is a beautiful country, but it is being developed at such a rate that there’s a lot of smog from trucks and motorbikes, and in general it’s very busy. The remote sites (like the one I am in) are very beautiful, but the roads going make me feel like I’m driving through a third-world Tokyo. I took a two-hour drive on my rented motorbike to the Conservation International’s headquarters in the capital of Bali called Denpasar, and it was a pretty wild experience. It wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be, but there’s no rules and traffic sort of just flows chaotically, so i would usually just pick a car or bike to the right of me as sort of a shield from the traffic. In Bali, they drive on the left side of the road, which adds a little intricacy to the already insane driving scene. But I made it to CI fine, and had a pretty good meeting with them all, where at the end we all ate Balinese food without silverware and only using your right hand. The project seems good, but it’s interesting how out of touch the people at CI are to the actual scene of Uluwatu. The consultant for the project has never even been to Uluwatu, and there has been zero conversation about the reasons for this study (which is to develop a large Marine Protected Area bigger than the surf reserve) to locals in the area. So basically I am trying to figure out how to best establish relations with the locals, but again that’s difficult, one, because I’m not a near professional surfer which the Balinese surfers are and two, because I don’t speak the language, and environmentalism is not really very well known in the area. So there are definitely difficulties, but for now, it’s like an eye-opening semi surf journey, where a large part of my day consists of just walking to the beach and talking to people along the way. We’ll see how it all ends up.
It’s interesting how immersion has helped put me back in a new reality that I don’t really understand. I try to just take everything in contemplatively, without making too many judgments on it all. It’s difficult being here not completely on vacation like literally everyone else, other than the folks that live here. But my overall health is good; other than some scrapes and losing a fin off my board, my bodily health is good except I’m feeling the effects of Bali Belly, which is apparently a right of passage of being here.