After spending my first few nights in Badung, Bali at a local hotel, Mr. Alit, the Executive Director for DINARI (Kiva’s MFI partner in Bali), invited me to stay in his guest room. I happily accepted and now enjoy sharing meals with Mr. Alit, along with his two children, Ayu and Jeremy, his very kind wife, Nenny, and their assistant, Neni.
For my first weekend in Badung, I was invited by my coworker at DINARI and new friend, Ferdinand, to join him on a trek to Tabanan in central Bali to join his friend at a traditional Hindu ceremony. Always up for seeing new things (and still not having learned the Indonesian word for “no”), I eagerly accepted his invitation. So after work on Friday, I hopped on the back of Ferdinand’s moped, hugged onto him for dear life, and we sped off into the Bali night. One hour and four sore cheeks later (2 confirmed, 2 assumed), we arrived at his friend’s house.
Ferdinand’s friend, Gangga, and his family graciously accepted us into their celebration and fed us until we were bursting at the seams. Although our work at DINARI caused us to be too late to see the actual ceremony, we enjoyed an incredible spread of every type of pork imaginable, rice, vegetables, spicy hotness and many types of sate (meat on a stick). After a week of Indonesian food, I still rarely have an idea of what I’m eating, and occasionally get blasted with some incredible spiciness, but it’s always pretty tasty.
As has been common in my experience so far in Bali, Gangga’s family made me feel extraordinarily welcome. Ferdinand spoke with Gangga and many of the guests, while I assumed my usual role of mute village idiot from America, unable to communicate. Nonetheless, I enjoyed listening to the conversations and couldn’t help but get caught up in the incessant laughter and smiles that are such a wonderful part of the Balinesian identity.
The highlight of the night came when Ferdinand decided that it would be a good idea for me to try and chat with some of the girls at the event. Never one to be real shy, I tried to brainstorm how on earth I was going to chat, considering I knew about seven words of Indonesian and no one spoke English. Ferdinand offered to translate, but I knew that he would surely “throw me under the bus” and I’d likely end up going back home to Badung with a new wife and a headless chicken. Having denied his services, Ferdinand asked me what I was going to say, so I tried practicing on him. Using all the Indonesian words I knew I said, “Satu, dua, tiga, empat, lima… Pisang gorang!!! Tarima kasi.” He laughed a little at first, but I figured he was just impressed by my American flirtation skills, or “game” as the kids are calling it these days.
After some serious deliberation, he decided it was in my best interest to sit this one out and wait until my Indonesian improved. I guess it turns out that “One, two, three, four, five… Fried Bananas!!! Thank you,” is not the best pick up line in Bali. You live and you learn, I guess.
Cheers from Bali,