There is a place where one man has made all the difference.
The people’s Bali lies far from glamorized honeymoon Bali. In Banjar Guliang Kangin, three hundred+ villagers survive. Men toil in hot humidity tending rice paddies. Trek barefoot in muck, guiding bovine through shin-high waters as they pull hand-carved rakes, furrowing mud. Others stand in water, backs bent, sticking rice plants in wet soil. Women rise daily at five AM. Walk to village market and buy day’s fresh food supplies as mangy dogs and cocking roosters run underfoot on dirt road. They use firewood to boil rice, cook fresh chicken and vegetables in clay pots. Weave flowers and seed as offerings to Hindi gods three times per day. Balance bundled lunch on heads, walking into fields toward hungry men. Children, who can afford books and uniforms attend free school through tenth grade. Farmers make $7 per week, Their children work in fields and family gardens.
We are among the privileged few taking a cooking class from Chef on this hot Balinese day. He meets us at market and humbly explains vegetable names and uses. Takes us to his village, walks us though rice paddy fields to open air school he built with bamboo poles and thatched roof. Teaches us Balinese cooking and at class end, smiling broadly, serves us foods we’ve prepared. “This is not my school. It is my community’s.” Chef left this village as a young man. Traveled to Australia to learn English and culinary arts. Worked in kitchens, ultimately a Hyatt, saving monies. Two years ago at age fifty, he returned. Built this school. Established relationships with cruise ship lines and hotels. He buys food and teaches multiple cooking classes every day. His work has literally built a bridge, improved homes, and insures that each village child attends school. As women toil at home and men plant fields, he is feeding a village, dish by dish.
Pale female cardinal
daily builds nest, stick by stick
winds of change blow by
Wonderful day in Bali. So very glad we did this excursion, experiencing Balinese culture and helping this village by working with Chef. Such a humble, giving man.