The terraced rice fields have been one of the most glorious sights in Bali. Surprisingly, because of the tropical climate, we see rice at all different stages of life - brilliant, bright green baby shoots, mature rows of plants in water, goldy-green plants heavy with grain about to be harvested and light brown stalks sitting in the finished fields. Flocks of ducks are ushered into the fallow fields to eat insects and algae and to fertilise. Some of the ducks have red or blue paint marks on them to distinguish them from their neighbor's - like the sheep in Ireland. At sundown we see people with flags on long poles herding the ducks out of the fields - very funny to watch as they waggle along on their quacky way.
Satellite dishes point straight up rather than tipped at an angle. Peter tells me this is because satellites are placed over the equator so that their position doesn't change as the two poles tilt their way thorough the year. A geosynchronous orbit.
Balinese food is delicious! We took a cooking class and learned to make a tempe dish that used 14 different spices. Three of them I'd never met before. One was fresh turmeric - you cut into the ginger-like root and it is bright orange inside! The tempe is very different from what we buy in health food stores at home - I am much more convinced by the tempe here. The main cooking oil is coconut which is also used, of course, for its milk and shredded meat. The only odd food surprise has been that much of the fruit is flavourless. Not true of papayas and watermelon, out of which they make lovely juice. We have learned about a new fruit called snake fruit. It is crunchy and its husk looks very like a snake skin. For some reason I get a big thrill out of learning about new fruits. Cacao is not native to Indonesia - brought here by the Dutch; but there are many cacao plantations. Chocolate trees! If you have a sauce in a restaurant meal, it is often served in a little dish made from a banana leaf. The most exotic thing we've eaten is banana flower - yup, the flower from a banana tree!
If there are sidewalks in the bigger town and cities, they are often broken with gigantic holes going to who knows where. They have great ups and down at steep angles. If you try to walk and look at the same time, you do so at your peril.
Women and Construction
We have seen many road work crews of women labourers. Usually they are shovelling gravel. Yesterday we passed two women at a construction site each carrying 25 bricks on their heads!
The state pays for elementary school, though not for secondary. Children all wear uniforms - shirts and then shorts for the boys and skirts for the girls. School starts at seven in the morning and is often over by eleven. We see lots of young kids driving motor scooters to and from school.
There are frangipani trees everywhere. The fallen yellow flowers have the most fragrant, glorious scent. The Balinese use the flowers in offerings and just as a beautiful decoration to line a path. Don't you love saying the word 'frangipani'?
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