Thursday, June 30, 2011

Stretching those shoes...

I guess you know you're growing when you find life/circumstances challenging, difficult and then know you're really out of your safe little comfort zone!

It may look like everything is fine and dandy here but sometimes the reality (for me) is very different.  I hit a low patch every now and then...missing NZ, missing family and friends and feeling totally inadequate teaching these kids...

It just all gets a bit too hard for me sometimes and I've had a few little meltdowns...usually when I stress about what the hell I'm going to teach today - it's effing hard!  I have to come up with it all myself and not being a teacher, I haven't a clue a lot of the time.  Sometimes the mind is completely blank - WHAT the hell am I going to teach today and HOW am I going to teach it????  You're on your own, there's no support or guidelines and sometimes it just gets a bit overwhelming - especially when I can't get on the damn Internet to Google something to give me ideas!  But tomorrow is always another day and so I plod on...I'm hoping it gets easier...

Last Thursday Ketut's older Sister Kurti and her daughter Mitri took me to the market to buy a ceremonial sarong and top as we are going to be going to a few ceremonies and Temples in the coming weeks and need to wear the correct clothing.

Of course I stuck out like a sore toe in the market - being the only Westerner there...Mitri was getting asked all the questions - who is she, where is she from, what's she doing, where is she staying etc. etc.  I had no idea what they were saying but knew I was the subject of the conversation because Mitri was answering "Yayasan", "Tulamben".  Goodness knows what else they were saying :-)

It was quite funny - we had to shop around for a 'girdle' for me as I needed a size Large (you feel really BIG in these countries as everyone else is really small!).  For any blokes out there that don't know what a 'girdle' is - it's a piece of thick, wide elastic with hooks and eyes on that holds your sarong in place and pulls the tummy in hopefully - no Trinny & Suzanne body huggers over here!!  It brought back memories of watching my Mum struggle into her girdle many many years ago when she got dressed up to go to town on Friday afternoons or to go out somewhere special.  Thankfully this isn't the full body suit style that she had to squirm into!

We had an amazing time on Friday night and again on Sunday.  We were privileged to be part of the final stages of a Cremation Ceremony that started 18 months ago for 11 family members that had been cremated back in 2009.  They have ceremonies at the cremation time, 6 months later, 12 months later and finally 18 months later.  Because it is expensive to do and they are poor they bury everyone first, then dig them up for cremation when they can afford it.

Friday saw us (in our Balinese clothing) walk in procession with the family from the family Temple in Tianyar, down a side road to the beach, along the beach about 800m to another small Temple where all the offerings were sitting - food, cooked pig, flowers, etc.  It was beautiful.  There were beautiful yellow, orange, cream & gold umbrella's, two big tall flags in the front and the girls carried offering baskets on their heads, following single file...

Spit Roast Pig!

The Priest was amazing.  He got dressed up in white and then had black and glass beads draped over him like a lanyard and gold amulets and ear pieces.  He did prayers and offerings first which reminded me of the Buddhist Ceremony we did for Dad after he died. 

Then as dusk fell incense was lit and flower baskets given out and we all did prayers together.  It was lovely and the lighting at dusk/evening by the sea was beautiful with all the bright colours of everything.

The children are especially cute!

Once is was dark we all filed up another side road onto the main road and back to the family Temple where they then had more prayers and ate their food.  We left before they got into all that.

They had another day of it on Saturday where they travelled to another Temple out of town and walked up the mountain for 2 hours to the Temple at the top, then to another two Temples on the way back.  We decided not to join them for that one as it was a very early start but we joined them again on Sunday...

Having said that, Sunday was an early start too - up at 5.45am to be at the school for collection at 7am.  We actually left at 7.30am and headed to a Temple inland which took about 1.5 hours to get to.  There were about 40 of Ketut's family plus us.  It was a day of ceremony, prayers, water, flowers, rice, incense and sitting cross legged for around 6 hours on concrete!

We finished in darkness at Lake Batur.  The final Temple was beautiful in the darkness with subtle lighting and incense burning.  Actually all the Temple's were beautiful in their own right but darkness makes them extra special I think.
It was a marathon day - we did around 15 Temples and at each one there was around 1/2hour of prayers and ceremony.
We got to bed around 11.00pm absolutely had it.  It was an amazing day/experience and we are very grateful to have been part of it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Saving lives...

Lunch here sometimes...
Made (Marday) runs the shop
 Well, we're in a bit of a routine 
  now...after breakfast we head off
  to Tianyar 20 minutes away. 
  We generally get there around
  11am so it's a relaxed start to the
   day :-).  I usually go to the 
  Photocopy/Internet shop that the  
  School runs and get on a 'real' 
  computer for a couple of  hours 

to do some blog, emails, download photos etc. and also Google for English lessons to teach the kids.  Then we go have lunch around 1pm and back to the school for lessons at 2pm. It's costing us around $400NZD per week for both of us to live here. Accommodation is more than we were expecting but we have few alternatives, having said that it's only costing $28NZD per night including breakfast (for both of us) averages $5 for lunch and $20 for dinner including beer (again for both of us)...50cents for a 1.5L water.
Toraja Hotel - our home

Last Wednesday (15th June) we had a bit of excitement as we headed back to the we passed the neighbours property next to the school we saw there was a large Sea Turtle tied to a tree.  We stopped and had a look and couldn't get much sense out of the woman keeping an eye on it as she didn't speak English and we don't speak Indonesian so Brent went and got Ketut.

The poor thing was tied with rope around it's front flipper and as it struggled to get away the rope pulled tighter around it, cutting into it.  We thought it had wandered up from the beach and they had tied it up so it wouldn't wander further and they were going to put it back in the sea...ah, no...they had brought it from someone else who had found it and paid 250,000 Rupiah (NZD$40) for it .  They were going to slaughter it and sell the meat and shell.

Well we wern't having a bar of that and were really upset, so with Ketut interpreting and trying to talk to them and say it was wrong and should be returned to the sea, it was a waste of time, it's what they do here and have done forever, even though it's now illegal.
In the end Brent and Ketut went to the Village Elder but he wouldn't do anything about it either.  Brent said we'll give the guy the 250,000 it cost him and let it go.  While they were away, Katie (an American woman who arrived that morning at the school) and I kept vigil over the turtle and tried to stop it pulling on the rope and hoping no-one came out with the knife!

Bye bye turtle xx
When Brent and Ketut got back we undid the rope, flipped the turtle onto its back and onto some thick plastic sheeting and the four of us carried it to the sea.  Brent and Ketut let it go in the surf and it swam away - far, far away I hope! It was a good feeling.

Apparently it had come up to the beach and laid eggs (during full moon) then it got caught and the eggs were taken (f_ _ _ _ _ s!)  Ketut was really upset and had a big meeting with the kids at the school to explain what happened and that it was wrong to keep and kill the turtle and it must stop otherwise their children may never get to see a turtle...

Quite a few of them had come with us to return the turtle to the sea so they saw what was going on and what we did.  Hopefully we've planted a seed to change things...

It's hard because they've done it forever - it's seen as a gift from the Gods that the turtle came ashore so they can do what they like with it.  They probably think we're interfering Westerners, but some things you just can't turn a blind eye to, customs or not.

Silly me only got one photo - unbelievable I know, and I had my camera with me but I was so wrapped up in what was going on...Katie got some photos though so I'm just waiting for her to email them to me (she's back in the States now) so I can add to the Blog...

Chocka bus trip to Tianyar
On Friday Brent left early and went with Ketut to Singaraja to get seeds for the garden so I had to get myself to the school on the local bus - this time it was chocka with people, eggs and flowers for the market - thankfully no more chickens!

On Saturday we ventured to Amed which is around 30mins South of Tulamben where we are staying.
It was a lovely drive through the rice paddies and villages.


Drive to Amed...

We did a bit of snorkelling,   eating, drinking and I had a lovely $12 massage (hehe :-)...we wanted to go to a specific bay to snorkel as there is really good coral and another ship wreck really close to shore but it was just too windy so will do that another day.
Hi ;)

Saturday night we went to the "Opening Night" of a new Resort just up the road (friends of Lebor and Chery our hosts).  We met a lovely Australian couple - Jeff and Dawn Mullins.  They live here and do lots of diving and underwater photography  It was so nice to have a proper conversation with someone who understands us 100% and we understand them - no pigeon English!  We will keep in touch with them and probably have a beer or two or three or four...over the coming weeks.

Till next time xxxxx

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Breaking in new shoes...

I have decided this whole experience is like breaking in a new pair of really love them and want them but for a little while they cause you pain and are uncomfortable...then one day they fit just right and become just like a comfy pair of slippers...I'm at the pinching stage at the moment but I know that by the time I leave it will all be comfortable and familiar...

We have only been here just over a week, it feels like a month!  Not in a bad way, like it's dragging or anything but I guess because everything is so new and different time is slower or something...which isn't a bad thing at all!

Gosh there's so much to write about in just a week...

Swimming in the sea is like swimming in tepid bath water and it's so crystal clear - devine!!  We did some snorkelling on Sunday...the sea bed drops away very quickly into nothingness which was a bit scary at first, it's like a crater underneath the sea...but along the seabed wall, not very far out are the tiniest little fish that are peacock blue/irridescent...then further around and down a bit deeper I found a huge sky blue coloured starfish, angel fish, bumble bee fish (black and yellow stripes), and a huge school of hundreds of quite large fish just cruising around like a mass of bees, swirling here and swirling there...fantastic!  We are going to do a dive course while here as it's dirt cheap and this is one of the major dive areas in Bali...there is a WWII shipwreck just off shore (US Liberty) that is 150m out and only 30m deep...they do night dives out there too...

Having a coffee in the morning right by the ocean is magic... We have to cross the road from where we are staying to another place to get this stunning view...

I met my Sponsor boy Yogi which was quite emotional...I didn't cry (amazing for me) but there was definitely a lump in my throat.  He is such a brilliant kid.  I am very proud of him.
He is 11 and wants to be a Hotel Manager one day (at this stage anyway).  He speaks very good English, likes to read and is a real fish in the water and loves swimming.  He is very polite and is always coming and having a chat.

Me and Grandad
His family are very poor.  His Father is a truck driver 3 days a week and his Mother makes offering baskets to sell at the market.  They have 4 children - Yogi is the oldest (11) then his Sister (8) and twin Brothers (4).  Grandad also lives with them and sleeps in a shelter at the front of the house, with just a roof over him...Dad sleeps in a room of his own on a mattress on the floor and Mum sleeps in the other room with all the kids, again on mattresses on the floor...then there is a small kitchen and an open area at the front where they can sit during the day...everyone sits on the concrete, there's no chairs and when you go and visit they roll out a mat of thin felt carpet for you to sit on.  They survive on very little.  We brought them a 25kg bag of rice and they were very grateful.  It feels good to be able to help these people.  They are a lovely family.

Beautiful Amik
Ayu, Sri, Tari, Amik
Gede, Ketut, Suma, Dek apem

Saturday we went to a concert at the local Elementary School (where the children go in the morning to learn their usual school things).  Both Ketut (Brent's sponsor child) and Amik (my good friend Andrea's sponsor child) were dancing...OMG they are so beautiful in their costumes.
The detail of the makeup and the dress is amazing...Ketut was one of 4 boys to dance and Amik did a beautiful dance on her own - I couldn't take my eyes off her.  The dances are pretty detailed and complicated but they did them flawlessly, it was so great to watch.

Brent has started clearing the ground at the school for a big vege garden.  We want to plant it up with lots of different veges and get the children to learn about it all and look after the plants.  We will get some seeds from Ubud and teach the children to grown their own plants from scratch.  Then they can sell the veges to the locals and maybe even some businesses to get some income for the school.  There were a lot of big logs and large bolders and rocks to move, all the kids pitched in and helped with sometimes 20 kids helping carry a large log from one place to another and two or three boys moving large bolders together - these are kids from 6yrs to 16yrs, they all helped - amazing.

I have now taught my first few classes - I'm teaching Group C which are 13-14 year olds and there's 10 in the class.  We brought 3 laptops over with us that were generously donated by clients/friends of mine and so now they have 6 computers to use instead of 3 - it's made such a difference!
Computer Studies
I'm teaching basic Excel, Word and English.  I think I'm doing ok, although when you ask "do you understand", they just look at you ;) so I'm not sure - I think they are just shy (malu).  We will make progress as we go along, I'm learning too and I'm absolutely hopeless at trying to remember their names as they are all so different and the pronunciation is very "un-english" with lots of tongue rolling!

We are very impressed with how they can read English and we started teaching them John Lennon's song "Imagine", they picked it up really quickly...they do have trouble trying to write sentences that make sense...leaving out words that make it coherent so that's something to work on.

We have taken the children down to the beach for swims and they love it. They especially love Brent as he is a big kid himself and has them stand on his shoulders under the water and stands up so they dive into the sea - sometimes he has 4-6 kids clambering over him! 
Special moments are being imprinted on our hearts, when we were down there the other day Yogi and Suadi made a sand 'heart' for me that said "For Paula", (I think the "a" went missing when they patted it down) - so sweet and special :-)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Courage, Strength, Patience, Tolerance...

Whew, I made it!

I'm finally in Bali and I'm finally on the internet proper!  What a challenging few weeks it's been and the challenges continue...

One thing I've learned with all this - dreams are easy - it's the actualisation of the dream that calls for so much strength and determination to keep going that turns them into a reality.

The leaving of my workplace of the past 10years and the wonderful people I have worked with was hard...the packing up of all my worldly possessions and putting them into storage was a huge tiring task...and saying goodbye to my dear reliable Fredie (car) was sad too...however saying goodbye to my wonderful friends and family was so so difficult, especially after the sudden death of my dear Sister-in-law a week out from was a torture to leave everyone behind, I felt very torn and just want to be with them...but life goes on and the wheels are turning so keep going I must...

I'm feeling like a fish out of water at the moment.  It's different this time, very different. I'm missing home.  Missing the security feelings of knowing your place - work, house, town, friends, family etc.  I'm sure the familiar feelings will come here in time too, once I'm in a routine and settled in a "home".  It's been a huge change and upheaval, especially with everything that happened before I came away.

Gosh, the things we take for granted - reliable internet for a start!  Being able to speak to anyone and they understand you...drinking water from the tap...even having enough water to drink because it rains!  Little, little things that surely make you appreciate life back home.  We live in paradise and don't even know it...we truly have nothing to complain about in NZ, nothing.

We went to the Yayasan on Monday and met Ketut (the Director) and the children.  It felt very foreign and a bit overwhelming as they are still learning English so communicating is challenging - that's what we hope to change :-)  Ketut is totally overwhelmed with everything he has to do.  He devotes his life to them.  There is much work to be done to make the school more effective and efficient so we hope to help with some planning to help him too.  I haven't met Yogik my sponsor child yet - hopefully today so will post some pictures next time.

The thought of teaching the children in a classroom situation is daunting and scary for me - I'm not a 'teacher' as such and really don't know where to start, we will just 'wing it' and see how it goes - something is better than nothing but boy could they do with some real Western teachers here - what a huge difference it would make.  So, my challenge/invitation goes out to any Western teachers out there - if you want a life changing experience come to Tianyar - we will all welcome you with big open arms!

I had the best experience of manifesting what we think today - it's quite funny really...We took a local mini bus from where we are staying to air con...spit on the floor...basic...noisy...anyway that's fine, it's only 1/2 hour drive but I said to Brent before we left, "so long as there's no live chickens on board it's cool"...things were cruising along just dandy and about 1/2 way to Tianyar guess what - a woman got on board with all her veges and Temple offerings and her two roosters - fantastic - right by my feet!  They were in a bamboo basket with the top tied so they couldn't get out but was a bit much for me so Brent changed places with me and sat next to them :-)  (for those of you who think this strange - I have a bird phobia!)

Ah the joys of it all...till next time..xxxxx