Stepping off of the plane and out of the Denpasar airport, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into, and how much it would change our perception of the world in general. Our driver awaited us and we began our two hour long journey just outside of Ubud, toward the Nandini Jungle Resort. My face was turned and nearly pressed against the car window so that I wouldn’t miss a moment of our drive. We sped through the jam packed streets, weaving in and out, all the while scooters zipped past us. The streets of Bali are filled with scooters, some holding full families of four! Infants papooses to their mothers’ chest while the scooter darts between cars with no fear or hesitation. Chad and I were gripping our seats and gasping at the way they drove.
Throughout the villages were children playing barefoot in the streets, elderly women carrying baskets balanced on their heads, men selling cigarettes and Bintang beer, and numerous stray dogs. Every corner was a malnourished, mange-ridden stray dog, it was very hard to witness. These people live in very poor conditions and must provide for themselves and their families, so caring for dogs is last on their list I suppose.
We later learned that each village consists of compounds. Each compound is made up of separate buildings- one for sleeping, one for cooking, one for praying, etc. the compounds hold entire families, mothers, fathers, children, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. They grow their own vegetables, many own their own rice fields, and they farm their own animals, although they rarely eat meat-only for special occasions. From sun up to sun down the WOMEN of the villages work in the rice fields, do the cooking, and care for the family. If the younger of the family are fortunate enough, they can learn English and work in the tourism industry.
Seeing the simplicity of life in Bali had me in complete awe. It is so unbelievable to see in person how simple another country can be and to appreciate every bit that I have in my own country. An average salary a day for someone in these villages is 50,000 Rupiah, which averages to a little over $3.00 U.S. Dollars!
Despite their living conditions, the people are the most grateful, welcoming, and sincere that I have ever met. Not one of them would pass us without a smile and a “halo!” Greeting. The children would flock to us asking our names and where we are from with sincere interest.The people are proud of their homes and the hard work that they do. They enjoy engaging in conversation and practicing their English. They give daily offerings(Sajen) to the Gods. Their culture is so deeply rooted and important to them that they live by it daily. Their fifth fullness to their beliefs and their strong work ethics make me want to be better. It made my eyes swell up with tears at times, it made me breathe the air a little deeper, and it made me appreciate life and all that is given to me.