Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tantrums and Tiaras

Wow, what a tumultuous two weeks we’ve had – one extreme to the other!

It started Thursday week ago (8th) when I taught the girls Sex Education.   

That in itself was a breeze and they all got the message – “No condom, no sex, no excuses!”. 
I explained to them the seriousness of STD’s and that they can cause infertility (you especially wouldn’t want to be Balinese and not be able to have children – life revolves around family here and the children are expected to look after their elders, they all live together.  Sons are very important and the men here are devastated if they don’t produce a son).   I explained HIV and Aids – there is no cure, you die.   
I printed some good information off the internet and gave it to them, including all the things they can say if the male comes up with excuses to not wear a condom.

I took along a packet of condoms to show them – you should have seen their eyes – they lit up like saucers when I took them out of the packet!  I then proceeded to show them how to put one on, using the neck of a large Bintang (beer) bottle – funny!!!!!  I then gave them the opportunity to have a go for themselves – about half of them did, the others didn’t want to touch them but were interested in watching their mates.

With that taken care of I went and found Ketut (the Yayasan Director) and told him what I’d covered.  He said, “No, no, now they will be confused and think they can go and have sex.  No, you must go and tell them they cannot, it’s against our beliefs, no sex before marriage.  They cannot go into the Temples if they have sex before marriage.  Please, you must put it right, tell them they cannot have sex before marriage”.
I was gobsmacked!  I said to him "You didn't mention that to me last week!" and "So no-one in Bali has sex before marriage?  You’ve never had sex?" (he’s 29).  He looked me in the eye and said “No, I’ve not had sex”...  I was so pissed off.  He hadn’t told me any of this when I had asked him the week before if he wanted me to teach the girls about sex education.  If they don’t have sex before marriage then what the hell did he think I was going to teach them!

I found it all rather unbelievable but felt obliged to put things right so went and found the girls and said that Ketut had just told me they are not allowed to have sex  before marriage (they all nodded their heads) and that what I had told them didn’t change that.

I was gutted.  I was really upset.  I thought about it all the way home on the back of the bike, worried that I had told them things I perhaps shouldn’t have.  But, no, I did the right thing.  Chances are very likely many of those girls WILL have sex before marriage (it’s only natural after all) and that what I had taught them was important and I just hope they remember it at the time.

HIV/Aids is rampant in Bali and we’ve also been told that 75%  of marriages in Bali occur because the woman is pregnant – so there you go – beliefs and Temples don’t stand a chance against human desire!

We had Budi and Yogi to stay the Saturday night (10th).  They came after school.  Yogi’s Dad brought them up on the motorbike, he loved the place and didn’t want to go home either!  We fed them up and went snorkeling and swimming again.  We went out for dinner. They loved it.

Sunday arrived and all was well.  Our neighbor Nyoman came over to clean the yard (he and his wife Iluh (Elu) look after the place for the owner).  Budi and Yogi were kicking a plastic ball around and Brent was having a chat to Nyoman about going fishing with him sometime soon.  Everything was fine and friendly.   

Next minute Nyoman told the boys to stop kicking the ball and to start sweeping the yard.  He speaks good English but told the boys in Indonesian and his tone was definitely angry.  Brent made a bit of a joke about the boys never having a break from cleaning and then told them to stop, it was their day off.  He said the boys are our guests, they don't have to sweep the yard.  Well, it was all on then!  Nyoman completely flipped his lid and went right off!  He said “Get out, contract cancelled!  You are not meant to have guests staying, I want you out - now”!
Well, we were flabber gastered!  Brent asked Nyoman what was wrong with him today, calm down, we’ve had the boys before and it wasn’t a problem, you knew they were coming to stay, what’s changed.  Well, he went on and on and we couldn’t get anywhere with him.  Brent told the boys to get inside, I was in tears by this stage because of the shock that this ‘gentle man and friend’ had suddenly turned on us in seconds, all over the boys not sweeping the yard.  It was unbelievable!

Anyway, we’ve stayed on.  Things are “tense” but we only had one more week to go.  We leave for Vietnam Thursday 22nd.  Obviously we will not return to the house when we get back from Vietnam, but we have found new accommodation for our return so all is good.
It’s all just a very sad and unfortunate turn of events and has spoilt our happy time in Tulamben to some degree. Nyoman and his wife Iluh have been very kind to us, and us to them.  We have shared meals and Bintang together, laughs, helped his girls with English homework etc.  Very, very sad.
Anyway, onto brighter things…

It was Brent’s Birthday Friday 16th...
We started the day with two dives at the USAT Liberty wreck at 7.30am in the morning.  I’m enjoying the diving now and am much more relaxed about it all.  Actually, I’m now the one hanging behind as I like to stop and look properly at fish, coral and anything else that takes my fancy – much like shopping – haha!  It’s very annoying to have to move and catch up with Brent and Made (Marday) when I’d rather keep watching the fish!  
The colours, shapes and sizes of the fish are amazing.  There was a huge school of Trevally (hundreds) in and around the wreck that we swam through.  We saw 13 Bumphead fish that look like mini whales just cruising past. 

Made stopped at one point in the wreck, took his regulator out of his mouth, opened it and let 2 large shrimp climb inside – all I could see were their feelers sticking out of his mouth!  Funny – good party trick - haha!!

Amazing Fish

Garden eels
Towards the end of the second dive we came across a patch of Garden eels.

These guys are like lots and lots of long, thin snakes coming out of the sandy bottom all at once.  As soon as you get close, they pop into their hole and disappear but it’s so cool to watch them all standing up together catching whatever is coming their way.

Around lunchtime we headed to the Yayasan as they were putting on a concert for Brent’s Birthday.

We expected things to start around 2-2.30pm but in true Balinese “island time” it didn’t start until 5pm as they spent hours getting ready!

It’s usual of Balinese to pay exceptional attention to detail, time does not matter. The girls spent an age getting their hair platted and makeup on.   
Most of the boys had makeup too (this is usual for their performances) and they all looked stunning – they are all such beautiful children.
It was worth the wait.  It was unbelievable and totally overwhelming!

The children all did singing, dancing and acting.  Each group all did something different.  It was wonderful.

The Little A’s (age 5-7) were gorgeous.  They did a “Fashion Parade”.  OMG did they look so beautiful and man did they have the fashion model moves down pat!  They had watched TV to get the right moves, it was so cute and so funny so watch them strut their stuff, they did so well.  I’m sure given the chance some of these kids would be great models in the future!

A natural model!

Some of the Group A dancers

Group A (who Brent has been teaching mostly) did two different performances.  One group (mainly the girls, with a couple of boys) did a choreographed dance/exercise routine which was great. 

The boys did a very funny performance based around Brent and myself.  These kids are around 8-10 years old.  Resta (one of the boys) got dressed up as a girl, including a padded bra, long hair and makeup – this was “Paula”.

They all sat down in a circle and sang a song, then “Paula” and “Brent” got up and danced around each other, swinging hips and looking very provocative!  It was hilarious!  While still standing in the middle of the group “Brent and Paula” had the microphone – “Paula” said “Happy Birthday Brent” and “Brent” said “Thank you Paula”, then “Paula” leant forward and kissed “Brent” on the cheek – well, everyone exploded into laughter, it was fantastic!


Group B

Group B sang a couple of lovely songs, one of which Brent had wrote a few weeks back about the Yayasan, their groups and volunteers.  It was wonderful and a joy to see it now a living song that they remember and will sing again for future volunteers.

Group C

Group C (my girls) sang three songs.  One song had all the girls, bar one, singing quietly in the background while Suriani did a speech to Brent, wishing him lots of love, a long life, good friends, etc. (all in English).  It was fantastic.

The boys from Group C took part as well - Suandi was MC and he did a fantastic job.  He loves to be a showman so was a natural!  Chiko did a huge "Happy Birthday Brent" poster which was stuck to the front of the classroom block and Juliwan (who has 50% hearing loss and struggles with learning because of this) got especially dressed up and looked absolutely cool and handsome - I didn't recognise him!
Juliawan looking his finest!
Chiko's artwork

The Group D girls (age 16+) did some songs and then a “school” skit.  They all looked wonderful and Kartini looked particularly smart dressed up as a school teacher!

We also had three beautiful traditional dance performances which we always love.  They look absolutely stunning in their costumes and are beautiful dancers.  One of the dancers is Amik, my friend Andrea’s sponsor child.  
Words cannot adequately describe Amik when she dances.  She is stunning, tiny and flawless, both in her looks and her dance.  The other solo dancer was Kadek.  He is amazing too, very talented and dedicated to his craft.  The dances are complicated, with lots of special hand and eye movements, there is a lot to remember and they perform flawlessly.

Stunning Amik


Ayu, one of 3 dancers
They all sang Happy Birthday to Brent and even had a cake for him and gifts.   By this stage it was completely dark and we were meant to be in Tulamben having dinner with friends!

It was an amazing day and all very emotional for both of us. I took video footage of it all on my camera so we have the wonderful memories to keep as well as many, many photos. God knows what it’s going to be like on our last day!

We TXT our friends to say we'd be late, we made a mad dash home, threw on some clean clothes and out the door again.  Yet another Birthday cake (more chocolate - yum) was introduced after dinner, Dawn having made it herself in the afternoon especially!

On Thursday (22nd) we are off to Vietnam for two weeks.  We are looking forward to a change of scenery and meeting up with our two lovely friends we met last year.  Then we are back to Bali/Indonesia - me to do a Writer's Retreat in Ubud and Brent to do a week's diving on some Island. I may get to blog, not sure, so you’ll just have to be patient until you hear from me again!

I will leave you with some more images of the beautiful children of Widyasari Yayasan on Brent's Birthday...until next time…Arohanui xx

Komang & Iluh





MC Suandi


Mums and one Dad came for a sneak peek on their way to a Ceremony.  
They came back later and watched the whole thing.

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