A few weeks have passed since our trip to Bali, but I feel like I’ve only begun to digest the vast range of experiences our class had together on this intriguing island. Sure, I’ve lived there several years, but these were among the most fascinating and intense (and exhausting) weeks I’ve spent there. I learned lots of new things and delved much more deeply into Bali’s confluence of nature and culture.
The range of our experiences was pretty awesome (literally! <– the old literally) when you think about it.
Here we are studying the scope of Bali’s productivity, with cacao,
growing & drying rice (ok, so the latter pic is from after students left, but we saw tons of rice),
and everything in between:
…and learned a little about cooking:
and put a lot of it in our stomachs:
We had various guest lectures by local experts:
…including this one (w/ a nice shot of our wonderful group–click to see the glow):
We learned about conservation of rice fields, forests, and various other parts of nature, including sea turtles:
and poor communities in remote mountain areas:
…and got our hands into the action by learning to play music and to dance,
…and got up close with some wonderful performances that were little like anything we know in California,
Include a private performance by a shadow puppet master that we commissioned to thank community members for all their help and sharing their knowledge with us:
We saw the key role of water in action all over the island:
including the blast of a tall waterfall,
…and celebrated our time as a roving in-situ learning community,
The spirit world came alive one night in the temple of the dead as we watched dozens of people going into spirit possession trances, only to be brought back by lay priests and their holy water:
We came into closer contact with the cycles of life (here, a family & community wash the body of their recently deceased, youthful mother):
We studied organizations attempting to use ecologically sensitive production methods for local consumption & export (here’s the bamboo chocolate factory at Big Tree Farms):
..but we also saw environments being trampled by rapid expansion of towns and lack of garbage control, even right beside our own accommodations,
But organizations such as Kaltimber and the Green School (below) are fighting against such problems:
One of the eye-opening experiences for me was to come upon a completely Christian village, Belimbing Sari, near the trail head for our lowland rainforest trek. There, we could see traditional Balinese stone carving of images of the Crucifixion,
and the Last Supper,
…complete with Balinese clothing, nature, & ornamentation.
I couldn’t possibly give a complete sense of what we covered. This is just scratching the surface of what we learned and experienced, as we who traveled know. I think these experiences will serve throughout our lives as a trove of resources to think about culture, human-nature relationships, their failures and successes, and the range their possibilities.
I’m grateful to the people (the rice farmers, the musicians, the artists, the coffee growers, the cooks, the hotel staff, the teachers) AND the (rest of) nature of Bali for all they have given the world–and us on our little trip. We worked to be good ambassadors, and we hope we have left a positive imprint and somehow benefited the island.