shake, shake, shake…

paradise found.

Here we are again.

Four days ago, I was sitting where I am right now, in front of my lap top, at our dining room table, looking out at the bright green fronds of the Coconut palms that grow through our living room roof (how’s island living eh?)… I was working, (I’m in the middle of working on a commissioned film for a company in America which is how I occupy half of every day at the moment)… and I was trying really hard not to feel guilty about the wonderful Indonesian lady, Teti, who cleans our house every three days. So even though it was 7.30 am… I was hard at work… (pretending not to play spider solitaire…)

I digress. I was here. I was working. It was early.

All of a sudden the ground began to vibrate. In my half asleep state I thought, ‘wow the trains are loud today.’ Followed by, ‘I didn’t know there WAS a train line around here,’ and then, ‘there definitely isn’t a train around here… I live in a village…’ in quick succession. It was about .5 of a second later that I realised that I was in my very first Indonesian earth quake or gempa bumi as they are called here. And boy did we shake. The ground shook, the windows rattled – the whole thing lasted for maybe 6 seconds… which by the way is plenty of time to go all the way through death and destruction, fear and humility in your mind and back again.

Teti came running from the other side of our little house. Gempa Bumi! She’s yelling and motioning me to get under the table… By the time I stopped looking at her like a moron trying to figure out what she was talking about – even though clearly, it only could have been one thing – it was over.

And we stood, and we laughed and I said, suda, kecil? (over. small). And she breathed a sigh of relief and laughed at me… I’m not sure what she was laughing about, but it does seem that I am a constant fountain of amusement to the locals – Look at the white girl walking/riding a motorbike/eating lunch/swimming… I’m sure it’ll grow old quickly… maybe.

As I settled back down in my spot in the sun, I couldn’t help but think about what would have happened if it had been a big earth quake, not just the little tremor that we had. What I would do. How I would cope. It was a good reminder of where I am in the world. That mother nature truly does rule here on the equator… you never know what might happen flash flooding, tsunami’s, earth quakes… not to mention terrorism (am I making you nervous mum?). But you are surrounded by a village of people who have all been through it before. Besides, a little tremor every now and then never hurt anyone, right?

That was about the highlight of that day, whenever it was… Sunday? It’s hard to tell anymore…

It is Wednesday today, I know that much. Because today is the day that there is supposed to be surf. I was talking to one of the local boys the other day about how the ocean has been looking a lot like a lake, and how bored he has been because he surfs for a living. And he told me ‘Wednesday, that’s when the surf will come…’ and you know what? He was right. There are some good waves at the beach today… and they should be around for a while they say… Now if I can only find the balls to get out there… and fall off enough times to remember how to surf… maybe tomorrow.

The village is a quiet sleepy little place now. It’s like a ghost town. All the kids are back in school as of monday, so the village roads are busy around 7am when they are all riding their bikes around in their little red and white uniforms. But after that… it is silent.

Yesterday we did the drive to Pangandaran again for Sara’s day off. We went with some new friends who are staying at the hotel, Scotty is from NZ and Natalia from Canada. We went and met a local guy who wanted to take us to his village to show us how palm sugar is made. So after a breakfast of rambutans and fresh coconut juice we hopped on the bikes and rode into the village. We wove around little dirt tracks past goats mating and buffalo babies, past kids jumping for our attention and little colourful houses, through expanses of rice fields and jungles of dense foliage. We stopped at a little hut in the middle of nowhere where a woman was boiling up palm sugar… We drank a little, much to the dismay of this womans two year old who lost the plot that these giant white people got to drink the sugary liquid and she wasn’t allowed. It was sweet and thick, like melted Werthers Originals… like a toffee tea or something. She then plied us with potatoes cooked in the juices of the palm sugar, sweet and starchy and warm, with banana leaves to protect our hands.

soft chewy palm sugar

We went to another village to try the stuff once its made. When it’s set and cooling in a little disc shape that they then sell and export. We got there just after it the sugar had been set in its mould and it was soft and chewy, still warm and it was like the best toffee in the world – palm sugar… gotta love it.

With that sugar high we kept riding around, visiting random places and being stalked by a gang of little children who were playing a version of musical statues. Who let me take some beautiful photographs at them and laughed hysterically at me for no clear reason.

Eventually we ended up at Citumang. A beautiful swimming hole – our local public pool you could say, a natural waterfall with clear turquoise water, great ledges to jump off and wonderful caves to swim under and explore – unless you are afraid of snakes. The water in this mountain fed river is clean and fresh and cold… Wonderfully refreshing on sun-kissed skin after a day on the bike.

our local swimming pool

I’m preparing to head back to Australia in less than a week, and although I want to be there, I don’t want to leave here either. I’ve become very attached to this little place. I’m calm here. I love it here. It’s salty and sweaty and sunny and quiet. It’s like I’ve come home after a long day at work… and I find it just how I want it to be. But it’s like that every day… when I wake up… and there never is a long day at work, there never is any stress. Just long sunny days where I get up early and go to bed early. Where I ride through the rice fields at dusk and see thousands of dragon flies darting around. Where in the night I sit with a beer and I watch geckos catching moths and eating them or bats darting around looking for snacks, or kittens playing and kids laughing. There is something magic about this place…

Yesterday when we drove back from Citumang, BK was deserted. There was no one here, every shop was closed, every restaurant, bar one, shut up… it was only 5pm. The tourists are gone, the kids back at school, the adults are having a holiday of their own now. So we sat at the one open warung, with some local friends and ate rice and chicken with our hands, drinking hot lemon tea with brown sugar and watching the rain.

A cup of sweet tea and the need to drink it.

Another day done.


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