beers, goodbyes and star stitched skies

batukaras sunset

beautiful batukaras beach

It’s been a week of goodbyes in this beautiful village…

Yesterday morning J left for Bali and onwards to new adventures. We sent him off with a pretty drunken goodbye party on Tuesday night, a bonfire at the shelter, lots of bintang, cigarettes and even a couple of bottles of Angor (?) a locally made red wine that tastes like off cranberry juice and guarantees quick paralysis.

There is something truly wonderful about sitting in a little bamboo shelter with 15 or so people, a mixture of locals and travellers, where your ears are filled with the sounds of different languages, Finnish and Dutch, English and Indonesian and Sundanese words bounce off each other like a game of volleyball across a roaring fire.

J and me at the quiet jungle beach

On Tuesday there was no power in the village at all. So, with no juice, no cold drinks and no way to work and no waves, we were stuck for a plan. So J and H and I headed up and over the hill to a private beach, secluded by jungle, it was beautiful. We sat, we smoked, we drank water and swam in the ocean. We talked about sports and games and we taught H how to play Bocce (or at least a very simple Austrlian/Finish translation), island style. With one small green fruit and three old coconuts each we played the simple game – throwing into the hot sand and burning our feet and getting chased by crabs when we went to collect the ‘balls.’ I’d like to note now, that being the least sporty of the bunch (or in the world) I was very impressed that I won 4.2.1. The boys quickly decided that they were bored of the game when it turned out neither of them would win.

beach bocce

When it got to night time, the power was still out and we’d all made it back to Legok Pari to gather on the usual beach, all of the eating houses and homes were lit by candle light and torch, and we sat around a bonfire consuming copious amounts of alcohol, playing cards, speaking in languages known and foreign and laughing at the translation of jokes. I’m at home here. These are my friends. One swings in a hammock teasing another in Sundanese, while the Finnish trio discuss politics and the difference in weather between Finland and Indonesia with the Mushroom man.

That’s right, there is a Mushroom Man in our village. BK is known for it’s special mushrooms. I haven’t come across them yet, but there is a man in our village who is named after them. He is pretty nuts, and absolutely kind. He laughs and wears flippers around his neck, he rides a pushbike and calls out your name he talks in tongues and dances at your feet. He is smart and well read. He is brain fried, and he is a happy man. He has a wonderful library which he wants to share with me, 30 books from around the world, and is encouraging me to read Rushdie’s East to West so I can tell him what happens in the end… he’s never been able to finish it. The fact that it’s a collection of short stories, and the “END” is only the “END” of one story – is a concept that we can’t really find a bridge of understanding for. So I’ll read it and tell him the end of the last story, and he will laugh and dance. And we will drink beer and come out of the shelter smelling like campfire and stale smoke.

Last night we went to a big house that is being built by a friend of ours. It’s still very much a construction site, but regardless, an impressive structure. Three stories tall it sits just back from the Reef with incredible views across the ocean. No bricks, just wood, bamboo and thatching make up the structure. He is about to leave town, so he invited a large group of us to his house for a traditional meal.

H serves the rice for the feast.

Fish barbecued on bamboo skewers over a small bonfire reduced to smouldering ash and waved by friends. And Nasi Kuning, Yellow Rice – infused with saffron and lemon grass for flavour. We sat, 20 large, on the top level, spread out on the floor around a banana leaf picnic. Hand fulls of rice tossed from one end to the other as people desired. We laughed, we ate hand to mouth, dipping yellow rice into hot red sambal that burnt the inside of my mouth and set fire to my nose. We peeled the skin from the fish and devoured the hot white meat inside. They sucked from the heads. I laughed. We washed our hands and lay on the ground, 20 full, 20 happy, 20 still.

After the meal we walked on the beach, we played guitars and sang together, English songs and Indonesian pop songs. Love songs, songs about leaving home, songs about returning. Songs that cross the barrier of time and space. Songs we all understand. We taught each other the words. We didn’t need alcohol. We didn’t need anything. There was no where better to be. Under a star stitched sky, again we said goodbye.

The last going away party is tonight. E leaves tomorrow and I will be devastated. It’s an extreme situation living out here – like life is under a microscope, where friends are made quickly in a bond that is just as strong as friends you’ve known for years. But like anything, everyone has to move on. Go back to reality. Back to their own world.

So tonight we will buy a feast from the Warung in Parigi – and we will lay it out on Banana leaves, we will sip Bintang and sit on the floor and talk about the weeks we shared. And then, under another night sky, we will say the last goodbye.

Barefoot cut by jagged rock, my salty skin smells like freedom.

One Response to “beers, goodbyes and star stitched skies”
  1. davidd taff says:

    J and Me at the beach not J and I
    in indonesia you dont use J I in same email or they will be on to you

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