just another week in paradise…

Living here certainly has its ups and downs. A man walked into my house last night with a toddler (they don’t stand much on ceremony here), because the baby wanted to see a white person… the baby then preceeded to cry as the man tried to push her closer to me. It can’t help but remind me of the bearded lady or the human pretzel exhibits in a freak show. ‘I am not an animal… I’m a human being.’

I’m not sure if there will ever be an end to the wierdness of life in this foreign land. A few weeks ago I developed a very strange tropical rash on my face… yes… on my face of all places. It was very red and strange looking and came complete with high fever, chills and general flu like symptoms. People laughed at me due to the fact it was so strange to see a foreigner with a very local skin disease. The local word for it is Puru, no one could tell me the Indonesian translation of this word, let alone the English translation… so I still to this day have NO IDEA what it was.

I tried a topical ointment from the roadside chemist… which didn’t seem to do much but did relieve the pain… but even with no more pain the rash continued to grow, spreading to my eyelids and pretty much making me housebound. I went down to the beach one morning where all of the older women told me strictly that I was not to go into the water. One then rubbed my rash with her fingers and said a prayer… telling me that it would get better soon. My Indonesian mother was very clear with me that I had to come in to her shop at night before bed so she could apply traditional medicine. Now, I’m not scared of traditional medicine, in fact I would much prefer it to drugs… however, when the application of this ‘medicine’ was explained to me… I was more than a little hesitant. So I made excuses and stayed home.

day 2 of 'the rash...'

After another day and still no dramatic change and more stern words from my ‘mother’… I decided to grow a pair and experience this magic remedy for Puru… The remedy involves some kind soul to chew the root from a plant and a particular leaf in their mouth for around 10 minutes until it forms a paste. It was at this point that I was greatful… apparently the taste is vile so someone really has to care about you to do this for you. Then came the hard part. I stood at the bottom of a ladder, whilst my tiny ‘mother’ (I am only 5’3) climbed up a couple of rungs until we were face to face. It was then that she wrapped a sarong around my eyes and nose, told me to stand still, and spat all over my face.

The sensation of a fine spray hitting you directly in the face… is bizarre. I got the giggles, and a bit of a gag reflex going… but all in all it was fine. I was then covered in a fine yellow mist and the kind little lady went to scrub her mouth to banish the taste… Lo and behold, the next morning, the rash was almost gone.

As if life couldn’t get any wierder, there have been weddings – which have customs that are so beyond my cultural understanding… You get invited, you go, you shake hands with the bride and groom and their families, you eat, you watch some music, you donate some money (around $2AUS) and then you leave. The whole expedition takes around 30 minutes maximum. A girl who the locals call a ‘sexy dancer’ stands in front of the crowd in a mini skirt (with leggings) and moves her hips from side to side whilst the older men get up and give her small money to dance with them. We all used to wear this sort of an outfit to high school… I can only imagine the shock of the locals if they saw the western equivalent to a ‘sexy dancer…’

The waves have been big and consistent at all breaks… Clean, big waves roll around the point and along the reef to the sheer joy of all surfers from near and far. After many weeks of small to no swell, everyone is a little surf crazy at the moment. And now inbetween surf, work and the constant search for work I have also taken on studying my Masters… All in all keeping my busy both in body and in mind – which is the best way to fight of complacency, boredom and cabin fever.

Yesterday I was crowned ‘Blogger Indonesia of the Week’ – which was nice… it’s good to see that the Indonesian blogging world is happy with what I write about their country.

Barefoot challenged. Barefoot inked.

2 Responses to “just another week in paradise…”
  1. They just walked in your house uninvited because theyve never seen a white person thats just scary. Hopefully your skin rash gets better!

  2. asti says:

    Brilliant post! Love love how you survived and lived to tell the tale of the “spitting” cure! I myself as an Indonesian have never heard of this disease, or its cure… and not really sure if I’ll be able to endure it as well as you have. Oh, I’ve just added Batu Karas to my to-visit list so heads up on my future “how do I get there?” email!

    FYI, stumbled onto your blog from Blogger Indonesia of the Week.. and I do agree with him. Looking forward already to my future visits here 🙂

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