Inspired Words

These are the experiences of our volunteers in Bali.

March 9: Gravel, pancakes and slip and slide fun

Posted in Bali on March 13, 2012

We were picked up promptly at 8:00am as planned, but Wayan decided to take us to work via the scenic route. Taking a round-about route to the orphanage, we drove, first through a Hindu neighborhood and then into the Catholic neighborhood to see the Catholic cathedral, certainly not what cathedrals look like at home or in Europe but very interesting.  There are 3 primary neighborhoods in this area. Our orphanage is located in the Protestant area, there is another orphanage in the Catholic area, but I don't know if there is one in the Hindu area. Apparently the communities get along very well together. From there we went on to the local dam and reservoir. This was better than it might seem at first. There area was stunningly beautiful with mountains in the background and terraced rice fields opposite. The reservoir provides irrigation for the rice fields.

When we finally arrived at the orphanage (to the mild dismay of Nenden, the assistant director - she was worried, she hadn't known that we were stopping along the way) we noticed that 2 loads of sand had been delivered since the previous day. The lack of a new pile of gravel was gratifying but our relief was short-lived. Not 10 minutes later a new load miraculously appeared. Heard of quarter-down gravel? Well, this is more like 4" down!! We got to work humping the gravel down to the work site. After buckets of sweat and numerous rests and spelling each other off, the pile had disappeared. As we rested in the shade, patting each other on the back for our great morning's work the gravel truck arrived with a new load - RATS! We sat and watched in amazement as the crew (a middle aged woman & a younger male sidekick) unloaded the whole truck in bare feet with shovels in about 15 minutes, never stopping for a rest. Had we tried to help we would have slowed them down and been in their way. Talk about feeling humbled! Luckily, after a few wheel barrow loads, it was time for lunch - whew.

After lunch some of us continued to move gravel while others spent some time with the children talking about things Canadian and explaining where Canada was in relation to Bali. Lynn had brought several small rubber globes and we made a game of finding Canada and Bali on them. Stick-on Canadian flags adorned virtually all shirts in sight. Shortly after, we retired to the hotel for a much needed dip in the pool and more Bintang. We again had dinner at the Palm restaurant - the lemon chicken (ayam fillet saus lemon) is to die for.

Thursday morning Tom was delighted to have his favorite breakfast - pancakes. It really wasn't too surprising, he'd bought a package of pancake mix at the store and left it at the front desk the night before (subtle hint!). I sat in the front seat of the van for the drive to the orphanage which was as exciting as ever (mildly hair-raising).  The work site didn't look too different from a distance but lots of work had been done on the structural aspects of the building. Jerry and I were a little distressed to see some of our bricklaying handiwork been knocked out with hammers. We were relieved to learn that it wasn't because of our poor workmanship but because windows will be installed. Our hunch is that the "architectural drawings" have changed  ;-) . Our morning began as most others so far - gravel, gravel & more gravel (thankfully the gravel truck didn't reappear). When that was finished, back to the sand.

After lunch the fun really began. Tom had brought a large tarp to be used in providing us shade, if we needed it. It has found a new and improved role - portable water slide. Tom and Gino, with the help of a couple of the older boys, found a nicely sloped area, tied the tarp to a couple of trees and set a hose to it. The younger boys could hardly wait to get at it. The first few trips proved less than exciting but a bottle of liquid soap appeared out of nowhere and the fun really began. The boys hogged the slide for the first little while but, when asked, quickly stepped aside to let the girls have a try. All the children are amazingly well behaved, well mannered and obedient, there were no complaints when the boys were asked to stop. After a quick wash down of the slide (clean off the boy cooties?) the girls had their time and went just as wild. I think we had almost more fun watching the kids than they had sliding - although that seems almost inconceivable.

Thursday night we invited Wayan and his family along with Nenden and her husband to join us for dinner at the hotel. It was a lovely evening and we all learned much about each other and our cultures.

It's Friday! We've been here a week already, we're half way through our work here. The day again began with pancakes for Tom, I think he'll run forever as long as he has his pancakes. I had the front seat in the van again this morning - my knuckles are just now regaining their colour. Thankfully the pile of gravel hasn't reappeared (are we living in fear of gravel?). Mornings at the orphanage are relatively quiet as most of the children are at school and don't arrive back until lunchtime - it's a very short walk from the school to here. The morning was sunny for a while and hot but mercifully the clouds returned. At the work site the workmen were busy installing window frames so some of us lent a helping hand. Then it was back to moving the sand for mortar and hauling fill from the bush to fill in the floor areas. It was a relatively quiet, slow-paced morning, the sun playing a major role in that. It was also a short day. We left at 12:30 as the orphanage is preparing for a wedding. One of the staff members is getting married tomorrow and all sorts of preparations need to be made. The children will be playing the gamelan at the reception and I expect they will be attending the ceremony at the church. It will not be a tradition Balinese wedding - the bride will be wearing a North American-style white dress and the ceremony will be Protestant. We have been invited to attend but have decided not to. We feel that our presence will likely dampen the festivities somewhat and as we are reliant on the orphanage staff for transportation will just be added interruption in their party time.

We have Saturday and Sunday to ourselves. Most, if not all, of us plan to go on an excursion to a nearby seaside area for snorkeling and beach time. Sunday will likely see us exploring town and plain old R&R by the pool. That's all for now, more to come next week.

Paul Hope
DWC Participant
Bali, November

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