I have at last managed to gain some weight! Not sure if it is living under the auspices of the Sacred Mount Agung that has helped or the many chocolate bars and Magnum ice creams that I have been assiduously consuming.
We both had a bad night’s sleep as our host has seen fit to provide us with brand new pillows. The problem is they are not your “Normal” pillow. They closely resemble an overstuffed bean bag and are as tight as a drum! Erica remarked “It is like sitting up in a hospital bed” as the height of the said pillows is over double that of a normal one. I awoke with a very kinked and stiff neck and Erica never awoke as she never got to sleep! At around 5am I got the bright idea to roll up four towels into a pillow like form for Erica and she is now sleeping like a baby.
Sony is going to drive us along the coast road to the east this morning, reputed to be one of the best scenic roads in Bali. The Lombok Island Volcanos should be visible across The Lombok Strait. Watched fishermen carry their boat ashore as Mt Agung loomed overhead this morning.
Yesterday we walked behind the tourist area to a village at the foot of the mountains. It was a moment frozen in time just as they have lived for hundreds of years. The cattle were all tethered and fed long cut dry grass from the surrounding hillsides. These are fattened and then sold for income. The land is desolate and dry and most dwellings very primitive. There was no sign of any crops being grown other than some weedy tapioca. There were a couple of little “Shops” selling the necessities of life and what appeared to be a communal gathering area under some large trees. Amazing that all this is just behind the homestays on the beach. We now understand what Sony has been telling us about poverty in the villages behind us.
Erica at last found some snake fruit to buy. She has so far only consumed one so I think they may not be a gourmet’s delight!
Sony picked us up at 11am and we journeyed east along the winding and narrow coast road to Alas and then on to Kusambi which is close to the most Easterly Point of Bali. The road resembles the Amalfi Coast Corniche Road in Southern Italy except for the road surface and strength of road barriers! The views were breathtaking as we passed fishing village after fishing village. Sony explained these were active fishing villages as there is more fish in the Lombok Straight. Behind these villages on the arid slopes they have terraced land with volcanic rocks to enable them to grow corn, peanuts and long beans in the 6 months wet season. Today the landscape up the mountain side looked desolate.
The road climbs up from the sea above these villages and is quite dangerous. We rarely exceeded 15KMPH on this drive. As we returned we saw hundreds of school children walking back to a village from school. Later we struck many more on motor scooters even blocking the road as there are no school buses here. Children cram into the back of small trucks if they have no motor scooter. Our most interesting observation was that the children were smiling and looked very happy.
Sony told us that his life was carefree and happy when he was a fisherman. It is now complicated by running two homestays and catering for the needs of the occupants. He clearly still pines for the simple life that he once had. As we departed he showed us the Tamarind Seed Pods his Grandmother is drying on the beach. Each evening she comes out with some sticks and breaks them open to get the seed out before saving the Tamarind paste. The Old Bali life lives on!