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Not only beaches… bekerja and jalan jalan in Bali

Volunteer Blog

Denpasar, Bali, November 2014 (Susanna Diana)

This month for me has been rich of new stimuli and – like the previous – full of adventures. My work at the office was mainly about research and comparison with the rest of team, with whichwe are working hard on a project idea. Brainstorming with the other guys, trying to structure the activities for the island that will host us for ten months motivates me constantly.

On the 20th of November,on occasion of the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, I and Stefania (one of the other Italian volunteers) organized a workshop for the girls ofan orphanage.

It was a very interesting day: we organized four activities on four rights (educati   on, right to health, to play, freedom of speech and expression). The girls had fun and looked curious and intrigued by us bule (the Indonesian word used to describe a foreigner)

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During the weekends,with the other volunteers, we have continued the exploration of the island: obviously we didn’t miss the visits to beaches that make Bali famous all over the world, but we have seen much more than that. We spent one weekend with Jimmy, the owner of a Warung where we often go to eat probably the best Mie Goreng Ayam of Pemogan, who kindly hosted us in his family house and brought to visit a temple and gave us some nice jalan- jalan (walk around) time.
It happens that while you are taking a coffee, someone stops by to have a little talk, curious for the presence of foreigners in anarea that is not frequented by tourists. Our still low level of understanding
bahasa language didn’t stop a gentleman who always goes around cycling across the neighborhood from showing us his very modest house locatedliterally in the middle of rice fields, where he lives with with no electricity and justa thin mattress on the floor, and whose only ornaments are a Balinese mask and two statues, which he also wanted to give us!
Quite oftenly the locals ask us to take pictures with them or offer a rideevery time we are not on a scooter.

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During a rainy Sunday (ah, the infamous rain season has finally begun!) I came across the Bali Museum, located in the heart of the city.Inside I could see historical artifacts and read up a bitabout the millenarian and charming Balinese culture, while on the outside courtyard I charmingly watcheda group of little girls taking some Balinese dance lessons.
The area around the museum is completely different from where I live:it was the first time in two months that I saw the zebra crossing on the road and parks!Despite the vegetation and the mossy statues of the gods made me think about the city described inAnuman’s“The Jungle Book “, the area looks like the center of a normal and rich city.

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Balinese Hinduism is definitely one of the things that feed my curiosity: the ceremonies are numerous; religiosity is an element that pervades the lives of every inhabitant of the island. In fact, is not rare to spot rivers of people wearing their colorful sarongs and carrying offerings for the multitude of gods, lighting incenses at the entrances or the courtyards of the houses, going to temples, playing gamelan…

Since I arrived here I have taken part to many ceremonies, including some cremations (the first in the neighborhood where I live, the second in Singraja, small village in the north of the island, and the last one in Ubud – a spectacular cremation of a member of the royal family). I am going to buy a sarong in a short time, hoping I can wear it during the ceremony that celebrates the victory of Dharma on Adharma (good and evil): the Galungan.

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