Beside a few thunderstorms and some tense days, May has been a quite nice month.
I spent some time training myself on things I wanted to learn, and I finally managed to take a little vacation and visit Nusa Penida, an island located off the south coast of Bali, whose wild nature and genuine Balinese lifestyle made me feel good and helped me to rescue a bit from the stress and tension I had accumulated in the previous months. Visiting Penida was one of the most interesting experiences I have had so far. I felt like going back in time: the island is still really under developed, so the people still conducts a very simple lifestyle, makes a living collecting see-weed, breeding animals and growing vegetables, and brings peace to its soul attending hundreds of ceremonies. Probably almost the same scenario I would have found in Bali 30 years ago, when tourism and globalization still hadn’t changed the culture, the island and the society. While wandering around the island we met some of the very few tourists on the island who confirmed our theory: according to them, Kuta and Legian 30 years ago looked exactly like Penida now, so now, the south of Bali is not anymore the right place for those who fell in love with the authentic culture. Even though I haven’t visited Bali 30 years ago I kind of agree with that: my feeling is that what a foreigner perceives when visiting the south of the island now is a distorted and almost grotesque version of the culture, molded to be sold to tourists who seek spirituality like a consumer product.
Because of its virgin nature, Penida is also a sweet home – among the others – for the Bali Starling, one of the world’s rarest bird, and the whole island has been declared bird sanctuary.
For this and other reasons, the NGO Friends Of National Parks Foundation has set up one of its conservation centers, where – thanks to the work and the financial support of volunteers and donors – is running community development and wildlife conservation programs, thanks to which they are looking after the Bali Starling, the Sea Turtles, and educating people on farming methods and sustainable development practices such as permaculture. I and Susanna didn’t miss the chance to go visit the center. Unfortunately we couldn’t afford to pay the fee to join the activities, but it was definitely worth a visit.
Driving on the roads of Penida has been really challenging, but the rewards were priceless: breathtaking landscapes, wild beaches in the middle of nowhere and really friendly people who welcomed us.