“[T]he Count had opted for the life of the purposefully unrushed. Not only was he disinclined to race toward some appointed hour—disdaining even to wear a watch—he took the greatest satisfaction when assuring a friend that a worldly matter could wait in favor of a leisurely lunch or a stroll along the embankment. . . .
When all was said and done, the endeavors that most modern men saw as urgent (such as appointments with bankers and the catching of trains), probably could have waited, while those they deemed frivolous (such as cups of tea and friendly chats) had deserved their immediate attention” (391).
From: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (I recommend this well-written novel)
Take time for a friend today – and make time for a good book too. Fulfilling these two resolutions each day will likely result in a wonderful 2018.
Happy New Year.
What is ecologically correct, even helpful, to eat from the Atlantic Ocean – but not from the Pacific Ocean?
What in a well-made ceviche is rather firm and tastes like a cross between lobster and shrimp? What melts in your mouth, while the “butteriness” balances well with the lime juice”? And from the grill, what is a lot like grouper?
The answer is lionfish from the Atlantic Ocean and other areas where the introduced lionfish is destroying native marine life.
According to NOAA research, the very invasive lionfish found in the Atlantic Ocean prey upon numerous species of fish and crustaceans, such as juvenile spiny lobster, wrasses, parrotfish, blennies, and other ecologically important species. The Atlantic Ocean has very limited predators for lionfish, which inflict extremely painful venom from their spines.
Lionfish might have been introduced into Florida’s waters in 1992, when Hurricane Andrew capsized many transport boats and broke beach-side aquariums. It’s estimated that Americans alone import thousands of the stunning lionfish every year for their aquariums, and some later release the fish in no-native waters.
Reproducing year round, lionfish have no natural enemies and an extremely high reproductive rate of 2 million eggs a year from one female. Unsurprisingly they’ve taken over rapidly (NOAA).
A recent Oregon State University study found that in just five weeks, introduced lionfish reduced the native reef fishes by about 80 percent. The aggressive feeding of lionfish also reduces the numbers of herbivorous fishes that keep seaweeds and macro-algae from overgrowing corals. Lionfish are also taking over snapper and grouper habitats; they hamper stock rebuilding efforts and coral reef conservation measures. Voracious eaters, lionfish grow to a foot or more long, and their stomachs can expand up to 30 times their normal size!
Because native species in the Atlantic and other waters where the lionfish have been introduced do not recognize a lionfish as a predator, the local fish don’t flee. Lionfish can eat prey over half the size of their own body as long as it will fit into their mouths, and they eat almost anything.
The sharp spines of the lionfish contain a powerful venom: a single prick from a lionfish spine can cause days of swelling, discomfort and even paralysis. Pacific Ocean native fish know the danger, and stay away from lionfish (Smithsonian).
In the Western Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and in the Gulf of Mexico, however, where lionfish are not native and have very few predators, environmentalists are fighting the lionfish invasion with traps, nets and spears, lionfish catching contests, recipes and cooking contests, including Bermuda’s Eat ‘Em to Beat ‘Em , campaign. Honduras divers are trying to train sharks to eat lionfish (National Geographic).
Atlantic Ocean lionfish are now being listed as the “ultimate in guilt-free eating – delicious, nutritious and eco-conscious. “ Chefs do need to know how to cut out the poisonous spines and prepare the lionfish correctly so as not to pass on the toxins to their guests. And the fishermen need to know how to catch them without being stung.
The next time you are in Florida, you might find lionfish on the menu. It’s not cheap: in Nassau, the capital city of the Bahamas, the August Moon Restaurant and Café has been serving lionfish since 2007. Alexandra Maillis Lynch, the owner and chef, serves lionfish tempura once every two months, whenever she can convince fishermen to supply it to her. She offers fifteen to twenty dollars a pound for the exotic specialty, nearly twice as much as she pays for the more common grouper (Smithsonian).
According to Southern Living magazine article “Eat the Enemy and Enjoy Lionfish this Summer,” “For chefs, the lionfish’s canvas-like versatility is a key strength. It’s difficult to imagine a preparation—from beer-battered, to sashimi, to vegetable-packed kebabs—that wouldn’t work.”
The story of the Atlantic Ocean lionfish is a good reminder to all of us that introducing alien species into any habitat can quickly lead to catastrophe, both for wildlife and for us.
Remember, our Pacific Ocean lionfish are part of the diversity of our waters – and they should NOT be eaten.
But consuming the Atlantic Ocean lionfish means you are helping the native fish and the commercial fishermen!
Information from: < https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/invasion-of-the-lionfish-131647135/> and information and photo from: <http://www.habitat.noaa.gov/pdf/best_management_practices/fact_sheets/Lionfish%20Factsheet.pdf>
“Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved!
That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly.
It is the one thing we are interested in here.”
From War and Peace
Enjoy your day wherever you are. Aloha, Renée
“If we kept in mind that we will soon inevitably die, our lives would be completely different.
If a person knows that he will die in a half hour, he certainly will not bother doing trivial, stupid, or, especially, bad things during this half hour.
Perhaps you have half a century before you die—what makes this any different from a half hour?”
– quotation from Leo Tolstoy
“This variation of traditional pesto adds another taste dimension. It’s easy to prepare and full of those kale nutrients. Besides having it with pasta, you can spoon it into soups, spread over a layer of fresh ricotta, toss it with steamed potatoes, over eggs or use it in salad dressings. Sometimes we add chopped roasted walnuts and finely grated Parmesan cheese. We spoon any leftovers into an ice cube tray and when frozen hard, we pop them into a zip lock bag for later use,” says Ayu Spicy in “Food Glorious Food” (from The Bali Advertiser, Nov. 2017 p. 16).
Basic Kale and Basil Pesto (makes about 1 1/2 cups)
- 4 cups kale leaves, washed and stems discarded
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
- 2 tsp. lemon juice
- 1 tsp. lemon zest finely grated
- 1 large clove garlic
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 shakes of Tabasco or 1/16 tsp. powdered cayenne
With the blender or food processor running, throw in the garlic clove until minced. Stop the blender and add the rest of the ingredients and run the blender until all is chopped. Stop the blender and scrape the sides down. Turn it back on and run until you have a smooth sauce. If it seems too dry, add more olive oil.
Taste the bright green silky sauce and adjust lemon, salt, pepper, and Tabasco to your liking. Note: Add 2 Tbl. chopped roasted walnuts and or 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese to all or part of the recipe for variation.
Banner from http://ifoodreal.com/vegan-kale-pesto/
“To judge individuals before understanding them is a form of human rejection and feeds upon itself.”
From The Bali Advertiser, Nov. 2017, p. 29.
Although it’s much easier to see the light within some people than in others, let’s look for it within every person.
“This easy dish has mega flavor. It keeps for several days, making the mushrooms even tastier. You can also use a variety of mushrooms or just your everyday white ones. But I prefer the shiitaki with their strong flavor and chewy texture,” says Ayu Spicy in her column, “Food Glorious Food.”
Dr. Joel Fuhrman, author of such books as Eat to Live and Super Immunity, advocates what he calls a micro-nutrient-rich diet. To have optimum health, Dr. Fuhrman says we need to eat GMOSBB (more greens, cooked mushrooms, onions, beans, and berries).
This Shiitaki Mushroom with Soy Sauce, Garlic, and Balsamic Vinegar dish is a tasty and easy way to get your recommended cooked mushrooms. Serves 2-3.
- 1/2 kg. fresh shiitaki mushrooms or other mushrooms
- 1 Tbl. virgin olive oil
- 3 Tbl. balsamic vinegar
- 2 Tbl. soy sauce
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped or 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 Tbl. chopped chives for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (204 C).
Clean the mushrooms getting all the grit off of them. Drain and then dry them on paper towels. Remove the stems and discard if they’re tough. If not, cut them in half crosswise. If the mushroom caps are large, halve or quarter them. You want big pieces of mushroom for this dish.
In a bowl mix the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Beat this with a fork or whisk to make a smooth sauce and then add the mushrooms and toss to coat well.
Choose a glass or ceramic oven dish big enough to hold the mushrooms in one layer. Spread the mushrooms over the bottom and bake for 10 minutes. Stir the mushrooms and return to the oven for another 10 minutes. If the sauce starts to burn, turn the heat down to 350 F (177 C).
Remove the dish from the oven and let stand for at least 10 minutes before serving these beauties. Allow to come to room temperature before eating.
Enjoy your meal! From “Food Glorious Food at www.BaliAdvertiser.biz
Aloha & sampai jumpa, Renée
Banner : Photo by Christina Holmes https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/soy-glazed-shiitake-mushrooms-51140500
You may or may not know:
- Indonesia comprises 17,508-18,306 islands! It’s the world’s largest archipelagic state.
- Of those numerous islands, 8,844 are named and 922 are inhabited with a population of over 261.1 million.
You probably know that tourists come to Indonesia for nature:
- To see jungles sheltering elephants, orangutans and tigers, to visit rich marine biodiversity, and postcard perfect islands. Komodo National Park, a UNESCO Heritage Site, home of the infamous Komodo dragon, is one example of the beauty you’ll find in Indonesia.
- To enjoy nature on land and in the water;
- To see wildlife such as – the Komodo Dragons – the world’s largest lizard: 10 feet (3 meters), 300 pounds (136 kilos) with a venomous bite. They are facing extinction. Do not get close to them. They hunt in packs! One of the speakers at the 2017 Ubud Writers and Readers’ Festival described being confronted by a huge Komodo Dragon – while two others circled behind him!!! Yikes. A Komodo Park Ranger came to his rescue with a long pointed stick to poke between the Komodo’s eyes so they would run away. Enjoy looking for the animals, but do not wander off by yourself.
- To surf;
- To experience cultures richly different from our own;
- To see the beauty of nature;
- To experience vibrant cities such as Jakarta;
- Jakarta images from <https://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photos-jakarta-city-skyline-image9548188>
- To experience the city of Yogyakarta, known for gamelan music and traditional puppetry;
- To see smoking volcanoes. Indonesia has 76 volcanoes that have erupted in historical times; it has more active volcanoes than any other country. Some are among the world’s most famous volcanoes: Krakatau (Krakatoa), Tambora, and Merapi. Right now, Mt. Agung on Bali is threatening to erupt; thousands of Balinese have been evacuated since the end of September 2017.
You may not know that in Indonesia:
- On these thousands of volcanic islands live over 300 hundred ethnic groups (with over 300 native languages-including Batak, Minangkabau, Krui, and Pelalawan).
- The Javanese are 40% of the total population and are concentrated on the island of Java.
- The Indonesian archipelago was inhabited at least 1.5 million years ago: “Java Man” – his fossilized remains and tools were found here,
- Around 2000 BCE, Austronesian people arrived in Indonesia and are the ancestors of the modern population,
- From the late 13th century, the Hindu Majapahit kingdom flourished, its influence stretching over much of Indonesia.
- The 13th century in northern Sumatra have the earliest evidence of Islamic populations in Indonesia,
- 2017 is the 350th anniversary of the Dutch West Indies control of Indonesia. Part of that gaining control is because in 1602, the Dutch traded the island of Manhattan (New York city today!) for the small Banda Islands (the Spice Islands). The Dutch then had a monopoly on spices such as nutmeg, which financed the Dutch empire.
- However, because the Dutch were providing arms for the American Revolutionaries, the British blockaded the spice trade ships for two years causing the company to go bankrupt and the weakening of Dutch colonization.
- Until the Japanese invaded Indonesia in 1942, the Dutch controlled the islands.
- Recently, a Dutch man we met on vacation here in Bali said he was proud of the Dutch colonization for two reasons:
- 1) In 1859, the Dutch outlawed suttee, the Hindu practice of a widow (not widower) having to throw herself on top of the funeral pyre when her husband died (so they would be together in the next reincarnation);
- 2) The Dutch stopped women going topless – in this hot, humid climate.
- “Oh well,” says Barry, “governments can’t get it right all the time.” 🙂
- 3) The Dutch also outlawed slavery. But today, Indonesia ranks #39 out of 167 countries in the slavery index https://www.globalslaveryindex.org/country/indonesia/
Other Indonesian history, you may or may not, know:
- Japan invaded and held Indonesia from March 1942-1945. The Japanese trained young Indonesian soldiers – who after the war were able to gain freedom for their own country.
- Another not often recognized component of Indonesia history involves dock workers in Australia where the Dutch ships where harbored waiting to re-take Indonesia at the end of WWII. Using Gandhi’s concepts, these lowly paid workers understood that their Indonesian brothers and sisters would again be colonized if the dock workers helped the ships leave the Australian harbor. In a show of solidarity, over 4,000 Australian waterfront workers joined Indonesian crew members in a strike and refused to load Dutch ships carrying arms and supplies. http://www.abc.net.au/archives/80days/stories/2012/01/19/3414771.htm
- Indonesia declared independence on August 17, 1945, two days after the Japanese Emperor’s surrender in the Pacific. Soekarno (also spelled Sukarno) became president from 1945-1967. Sukarno established “Guided Democracy” an autocratic system in 1957 that successfully ended the instability and rebellions which were threatening the survival of the diverse and fractious country. The early 1960s, Sukarno veered Indonesia to the left by providing support and protection to the PKI (Indonesian Communist Party). As a result, the military and Islamists overthrew him; Sukarno remained under house arrest until his death. In 1967, Sukarno was replaced by Suharto, one of his generals.
- Sukarno image from: <https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c5/Soekarno.jpg
- In reaction to an attempted coup on 30 September 1965 – allegedly backed by the Indonesian Communist Party, Muhammad Suharto led an anti-communist purge, which the CIA has described as “one of the worst mass murders of the 20th century.”
- Those mass murders of their own countrymen started in Jakarta, the capital, and spread to Central and East Java and later Bali. Thousands of local vigilantes and army units killed actual and alleged PKI – Communist party members. Recent estimates say as high as two to three million people were killed. The U.S. was complicit in the murders by providing extensive lists of communist party officials to Indonesian death squads. From: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indonesian_mass_killings_of_1965%E2%80%931966>.
- Suharto served as president for the following 31 years! Support for Suharto’s presidency was strong (for his anti-Communist stance) throughout the 1970s and 1980s, but by the 1990s, his authoritarianism and the widespread corruption of his government plus a severe financial crisis led to unrest, and he resigned in May 1998.
- Currently, Joko Widodo is the 7th president of Indonesia. In 2014, he was elected to a five-year term with 53% of the vote. He is the first Indonesian president not to have come from the political elite or to have been an army general. Jokowi’s domestic policy has focused on infrastructure development, cuts in fuel subsidies, and a tax amnesty program. Widodo emphasizes “protecting Indonesia’s sovereignty” by sinking illegal foreign fishing vessels and executing drug smugglers, despite foreign criticisms. Information from <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Presidents_of_Indonesia>
- Warnings to tourists:
- Do not bring drugs of any kind into Indonesia; do not arrange to have drugs of any kind brought in; do not take drugs in Indonesia — or you may spend 10 miserable years in an Indonesian jail and then be executed.
- Despite global pleas to spare the men, Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, leaders of the “Bali Nine” – and six others: four Nigerians, a schizophrenic Brazilian, and an Indonesian – were executed on April 29, 2015, shortly after midnight by an Indonesian firing squad. See: https://reneeriley.wordpress.com/?s=Execution+
- Ironically, Indonesia has shown compassion for its citizens involved in the 2002 and 2005 Bali Bombings that left many seriously injured and 222 dead, including 92 Australians, 38 Indonesians, 27 Brits, 7 Americans, 6 Swedes and 3 Danes. All 36 Indonesian terrorists who were sentenced to anything less than life for their parts in the 2002 and 2005 bar and restaurant attacks are now free.
- Make sure you have an appropriate Indonesian Visa. The November 6-21, 2017 issue of The Bali Advertiser notes, “An Italian tourist, Carmine Sciaudone, has just been released from jail in Bali and has gone home after more than a year of incarceration. He had helped fix a projector on a locally operated party boat because it wasn’t working (no surprise there), and he knew how to fix it. That’s work, you see, if the authorities choose to decide that it is. And you can’t “work” on a tourist visa” (p. 27).
- “Indonesians say, ‘When you report a missing chicken to the police, you lose a goat.’ If you offer a bribe and don’t know if it will be accepted or if it is the correct amount needed, say it is a gift for their children. Be aware that the law favors Indonesians who overwhelmingly win legal battles against foreigners. Indonesia’s anti-graft body KPK reports that 40% of state regional budgets are lost as a result of corruption (Bali Advertiser, Nov. 6-21, 2017, p. 4).
- Indonesia’s constitution insures religious freedom. But in 2005 the wording was changed from “religious freedom” to “religious harmony.” Minorities are to respect the majority religion, and the majority religion is to protect minorities. An immediate result was that 1,056 churches in Indonesia were closed. People here I’ve heard say, “At least for now, we can still talk.”
- In a 2014 Christmas Day speech in Aceh, Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla claimed Indonesia is the most tolerant Muslim-majority in the world and long considered a relatively moderate Muslim state. The Indonesian Constitution provides for freedom of religion. However, in a 2012 cross-national Pew study on religious restrictions, Indonesia was actually one of five (out of 49 Muslim-majority countries to rank “very high” in government restrictions on religion and social hostilities involving religion. The other four countries were Afghanistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Yemen – hardly good company in this respect, according to The Diplomat <https://thediplomat.com/2014/12/is-indonesia-really-the-worlds-most-tolerant-muslim-country/
- Another very troubling indication of religious intolerance in Indonesia is that the popular “double-minority” (Chinese/Christian) first non-Muslim governor of Jakarta was found guilty on May 9, 2017 for blasphemy against the Quran under Article 156(a) of the Criminal Code. The charges were filed after Ahok was accused of insulting Islam in remarks that were edited out of context and put on FB, which resulted in religious riots against him. Ahok’s verdict is a jarring ruling that undermines the reputation of the world’s largest Muslim nation for practicing a moderate form of Islam.
Ahok was found guilty on May 9, 2017 and is now in jail serving a two-year term. His appeal has been stopped. The person who sent out the edited “news” is now being tried – but Ahok is still in jail. The verdict approved by the most conservative of the Islamists is based on their rules (not the laws of the nation) that 1) Non-Muslims are not allowed to interpret the Quaran and 2) Muslims are not to be led by non-Muslims. The two-year prison sentence was a surprise outcome after prosecutors had recommended two years of probation.
- Andreas Harsono, an Indonesia researcher at Human Rights Watch, said the verdict was “a sad day for Indonesia”. . . “Ahok’s is the biggest blasphemy case in the history of Indonesia. He is the governor of Indonesia’s largest city, an ally of the president. If he can be sent to jail, what could happen to others?” (<https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/09/jakarta-governor-ahok-found-guilty-of-blasphemy-jailed-for-two-years>).
President Joko has banned Hizbut Tahrir, the sect behind the demonstrations against Ahok, as part of a broader effort to rein in the hard-line Islamist forces opposed to his administration before presidential elections in 2019. Because of the aggressive moves by Mr. Joko’s administration, many of the Islamist leaders who led the campaign against Ahok are in exile or prison. Hizbut Tahrir believes that all Muslims should unite in a world-wide caliphate – a global political order – in which all humankind will live under Muslim rule as either believers or subject communities. From: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/19/world/asia/indonesia-hard-line-islamist-ban.html
- The religious makeup of Indonesia according to the 2010 Indonesian census, includes:
- 87.18% Muslim (with Sunnis more than 99%, Shias 0.5%, Ahmadis 0.2%); these numbers make Indonesia the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation at 12.7% of the World’s Muslim population.
- 6.96% Protestant,
- 2.91% Catholic,
- 1.69% Hindu,
- 0.72% Buddhist,
- 0.05% Confucianism,
- 0.13% other, and
- 0.38% unstated or not asked.
- 87.18% Muslim (with Sunnis more than 99%, Shias 0.5%, Ahmadis 0.2%); these numbers make Indonesia the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation at 12.7% of the World’s Muslim population.
- Another complication in this huge country is that millions of Javanese (mainly traditional Islamists) have migrated to other islands throughout the archipelago because of the Transmigration Program, an initiative started by the Dutch colonial government and continued by the Indonesian government until President Joko Widodo ended the practice in 2015. “The stated purpose of this program was to reduce the considerable poverty and overpopulation on Java (and some other islands), to provide opportunities for hard-working poor people, and to provide a workforce to access the natural resource of other islands such as Papua, Kalimantan, Sumatra, and Sulawesi. The program has resulted in separatist movements and increased communal violence.
- According to Philip M. Fearnside from the Department of Ecology National Institute for Research in the Amazon (INPA), “The Transmigration Program has been labeled as ‘’the World Bank’s most irresponsible project’ by Survival International (1985); multilateral bank financing of this program has long been a focus of criticism because of its impact on deforestation and human rights. In 1986, transmigration was singled out by a consortium of 14 environmental groups as one of the ‘‘Fatal Five’’—the five projects chosen as illustrations of inadequate environmental safe guards in World Bank lending procedures, the others being the Polonoroeste Project in Brazil, the Three Gorges Dam in China, the Narmada Dams in India, and the Livestock III project in Botswana (TFAGC 1986, Schwartzman 1986).
As for us, Barry and I are here in Ubud, Bali, where many tourists visit – at least those who are not on the Bali beaches of Kuta or Sanur or climbing Mt. Batur. In the past 17 years, we’ve stayed in Ubud five times.
We love the Balinese friendliness, their rich Balinese/Hindu culture that believes in karma and recognizes spirits everywhere, and the beautiful art that almost all Balinese practice, be it dance, music, painting, or carving. Until the 1930s, Bali could be considered the richest country in the world since there was little difference between the richest and poorest families. All could work about four months a year to sustain themselves. The rest of the time they devoted to their arts, their temple, their family.
Then the Balinese started importing tin roofs to replace the thatched roofs that they made together with their neighbors – and lasted about 15 years. Next, they started importing cars and had to go to a money system. Today, many Balinese hire Javanese migrants to work in the rice fields while the Balinese work in the tourist industry as drivers, or restaurant or hotel workers. They still have a rich family and religious and community life. We love the warm weather, the vibrant vegetation, the art that is every where, the friendly people, and the economical prices too.
This visit in Ubud from the end of September to the end of October, 2017, we could enjoy the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival: http://www.ubudwritersfestival.com/2017-program/;
The Bali Vegan Festival: http://www.baliveganfestival.com/
The Bali Film Festival: http://www.balinale.com/
Ubud has yoga of all kinds, great restaurants, and music every night.
April brings the Bali Spirit Festival – yoga, dance, & music <http://www.balispiritfestival.com/
But there is much more to the complex country of Indonesia than this tiny little part that we love.
Come visit Indonesia. There is much to discover.
Aloha & sampai jumpa, Renée
It hasn’t happened again yet. In 1963, however, the last time Mount Agung (Gunung Agung) erupted, approximately 1,500 people were killed and numerous villages destroyed.
Back then, after about a month of rumbling and smoking and then an eruption that traveled 7 km over 20 days, the biggest eruption happened. The March 17, 1963 eruption sent debris 8 to10 km into the air and caused massive pyroclastic flows (a fluid mass of turbulent gas and rock fragments), which “can travel at up to 290 mph (466 Km/h), “so no – you can’t outrun something like this,” says Kim Patra in “Paradise . . . in sickness & in health, (Bali Advertiser, Oct. 2017, p. 31). Resulting “lahars” – massive mud flows killed about 200 more people. The 1963-1964 eruptions and flows lasted almost a year.
Now – since September 19, 2017, Mt. Agung has been rumbling and registering 4 for most of that time – meaning immediate eruption. An estimated 125,000 people in a radius of 12 miles (20 km) from the base of the volcano have been evacuated.
The area experienced 844 volcanic earthquakes on September 25, and 300 to 400 earthquakes by midday on September 26. Seismologists have been alarmed at the force and frequency of the incidents as it has taken much less for similar volcanoes to erupt.
In late October 2017, the activity of the volcano decreased significantly, leading to lowering of the highest status of emergency.”
But Mt. Agung is very unpredictable.
Rio Helmi, photographer and humanitarian who has been covering the evacuation, reports, “Mt Agung is what’s called a “closed system”; it doesn’t display its activity very clearly on the outside and is unpredictable. This last is further complicated by the fact that this is the first time it has gone active since it has been observed with instrumentation. Consequently the PVMBG [Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Beologi; English: Centre of Vulcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation] are being cautious about making any ‘predictions.’” Mt. St. Helen was a “closed system” that too was unpredictable. When it erupted, it blew out the side of the mountain.
Another reason the volcanologists are being cautious, says Helmi, is that Mt Agung has a very violent history. To put this into perspective, it is one of 58 volcanoes worldwide that has hit VEI 5 (Volcanic Explositivity Index). It is one of only 7 volcanoes worldwide that has hit VEI 5 consecutively, and fairly consistently, over the centuries. In the past, over the centuries, it has done a huge amount of damage.”
With a population of 4,225,000 and a land mass of 5,780 km, Bali is one of the main Indonesian islands, the best known for tourism. (In contrast, the Big Island of Hawaii has a land mass of 10,432 km and a population of 187,000 people). The eruption of Mt. Agung, the highest point on Bali, will have a huge impact on the many people who live in the East close to the volcano.
Today, like many other tourists, Barry and I are in Ubud and so safe. Barry arrived in Ubud on September 21, right as the evacuation notices started for those who live near Mt. Agung. Because of international news coverage, friends contacted me at home to see if Barry was okay. He didn’t really know about the problem of the volcano. Even now in Ubud, we have a hard time finding out what is happening on Mt. Agung. In Ubud, we see posters of where to donate money or supplies like tarps to the evacuees, but this crisis doesn’t impact tourists – who can just leave. And it isn’t one event. Already Balinese have been out of their homes and away from their fields for over a month.
For those Balinese in the shadow of Mt. Agung, their lives are even more precarious than before.
Getting help to them will be an on-going challenge. The Indonesian government has set up evacuation camps, and people and groups have donated supplies.
But based on the local help that was already on-going for the Balinese subsistence farmers who now have even more challenges, I recommend sending support to two groups in particular that will know how best to help the Mt. Agung refugees:
- Pak Made (Kadek) Gunata, co-founder of the Bali Spirit group and Bali Regreen, https://www.facebook.com/BaliSpirit/ and
- Rotary Club Bali Ubud Sunset – FB contact <https://www.facebook.com/groups/129279773753349/> & http://rotarybaliubudsunset.org/
A Rotary News article, “Water Water Everywhere, not a Drop to Drink!” by Renee Heaton, tells about the Ubud Rotary Club’s on-going work:
“[M]any people live in areas forgotten by governments and politicians because they are too hard to access. No roads or infrastructure is built for them in any shape or form. Where are these places? They are the mountain areas which cover a vast area of Bali, and where tourist rarely go because for them there is “nothing to do there”!
“The east coast of Bali in the Amed area, in the regency of Karangasem, many many people live high up in the mountains! [in the current danger zone of Mt. Agung]. . . . The area is very dry as it is in the rain shadow of the great Gunung Agung, the Great Mountain. The people who live there have virtually no access to schools, health clinics, doctors, or water!! They live in small huts usually 2 huts to a family with no washing facilities, no toilets, and no running water and some do not have electricity. They depend on their water from springs, high up in the hills, or wells near the coastal roads. So how do they get it? By walking hours each way to get 1 bucket of water and carry it back on their heads, women’s work! But the water is only for drinking and cooking. They do try and catch it during the rainy season but if it comes off their roofs can you imagine what else is collected!! So what happens when we do not get enough clean water to drink? You get sick, children get diarrhea from infected water, kidney disease, and skin diseases. No water=no sanitation, no toilets, no hands washed, practically no bathing!
Why do they not move? No money and no education, plus it is where their ancestors were born and died. Most are subsistence farmers; it is too dry to grow rice, only corn will grow and then only one crop a year; sometimes they plant pumpkin or cassava, but for all their other needs they have to barter! They live on corn in one form or another, animals are are rarity, not often seen.
So what can we do??? (Bali Advertiser, Oct. 2017). Heaton continues her article by sharing what the Rotary Club of Bali has been doing with the Bali Water Project:
Funding from Rotary Club Bali Ubud Sunset, other Rotary clubs in Bali, Colorado, Kansas, India, and The Rotary foundation has focused on the Bali water project.
Heaton reports, “Between 2007 and 2009, 6 water projects were completed helping more than 3,000 people, some of the very poorest of families living far, far from roads or water. . . . Projects 7-15 followed. . . 2017 saw Rotary Club Bali Ubud Sunset complete a further project at Sombawong. . . . These projects have given so many people a much easier life; no more carry water for hours on end daily; given them pride in looking after the systems once hand over takes place; a sense of worth and of being NOT FORGOTTEN! If you can help, consider donating to Rotary Club Bali Ubud, which has a record of making great use of donations.
The other group I recommend that has been helping the Mt. Agung farmers even before Mt. Agung started threatening eruption is the Bali Spirit group/Bali Regreen:
A report from “Ubud News” by Wayan Jen tells about “Mt. Agung’s Farmers”:
“Pak Made (Kadek) Gunata, co-founder of the Bali Spirit group, is working to ensure that the farmers have livelihoods to return to [after the threat of eruption is over]. In 2011, he helped found Bali Regreen on the not so rich soil side of Mt. Agung, to grow bamboo that will create an income for very poor locals and help replenish the soil.
Since the start of the evacuations, Pak Made and the Bali Regreen team have worked tirelessly to move the animals from those villages off Mt. Agung. This is vital work. Many farmers have been persuaded by profiteers to sell their cows worth up to 15 million rupiah for two million (that’s $1,500 versus $200), because they don’t have any money for basic supplies that they need for the evacuation camps. But others have left their animals behind, or have no place to put them.
Pak Made’s team is fostering livestock on two hectares of land that’s been made available for use during the evacuation, but he says there are more than 800 cows, pigs and goats still in the danger area,”and I know there are more from other banjars [village groups] that need to be removed.’
While there seems to be enough land to keep the animals at the moment, they need funds for fodder and animal care. By sheltering these cows, they are saving the future livelihood of these villagers, giving them the capacity to rebuild their lives when the immediate disaster is past. PM Made Gunata [Bali Spirit] directly on Facebook re donations.”
As of Oct. 30th the danger was downgraded from 4 to 3, but that certainly doesn’t mean that Mt. Agung is stable.
The Ubud Rotary Club and Bali Regreen for Balinese farmers are two excellent ways your contribution will be put to its best use.
For first-hand updates on what is happening on Mt. Agung, see Indonesian humanitarian and photographer Rio Helmi’s “News from Under the Volcano” on www.ubudnowandthen.com
Ibu Kat, Bali author and columnist, writes, “For most people reading this [in Bali], the eruption will be inconvenient. For the tens of thousands of families whose only home and assets are on that mountain, it will be devastating.
If Gunung Agung does blow, and it seems likely, the government and NGOs will be finding ways to help them survive and move forward over the next year or so. We can all be part of this process” (from “Greenspeak” Bali Advertiser, Oct. 2017, p. 29).
Please help. Aloha and sampai jumpa, Renée
Banner image: <http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-41382990>.
For travelers, for those who wait in lines and in traffic, for those wasting away in doctors’ offices, you are likely to appreciate this reading by Simon Armitage, Professor of Poetry at Oxford University.
Be patient – and enjoy. Aloha, Renée