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Books: “Travel as a Political Act”

Today as I was volunteering and getting to share the latest in humpback whale information at the Maui Ocean Center, one group – a mom and her four daughters – seemed particularly interested.  Most people  at the Ocean Center come to see the many beautiful fish and other sea creatures, and I  get to say a few facts as they pass by.  But for this particular group, I got to tell about why the humpbacks don’t eat while they are in Hawaii, how the male humpback whales have the most complex acoustical display of any in the animal kingdom, and more.  Since I could hear a slight accent, I asked the mom and girls where they were from — Saudi Arabia!  Uncovered, unescorted, all speaking English well (and of course, Arabic, and they are learning French); the mom says that the women drive; the girls are learning guitar too, and tomorrow, they are taking hula lessons at their hotel.  The mom said that life in Saudi Arabia isn’t really as it is portrayed in the news.  I asked if they were afraid of traveling in the U.S.  They said, “No.”  They are having a wonderful time and find everyone friendly.  They see the sensational news as just the news.  I would have loved getting to know them.

That seeking out of people, especially ones from cultures much different than his own is what Rick Steves shares in his book Travel as a Political Act, which offers many significant insights.  For instance, in describing his time in Iran, Rick Steves notes,

“It’s not easy finding a middle ground between the ‘Great Satan’ and the ‘Axis of Evil.’  Some positions (such as President Ahmadinejad denying the Holocaust) are just plain wrong.  But I don’t entirely agree with many in my own government, either.  Yes, there are evil people in Iran.  Yes, the rhetoric and policies of Iran’s leaders can be objectionable.  But there is so much more to Iran than the negative image drummed into us by our media and our government.

I left Iran impressed more by what we have in common than by our differences.  Most Iranians, like most Americans, simply want a good life and a safe homeland for their loved ones.  Just like my country, Iran has one dominant ethnic group and religion that’s struggling with issues of diversity and change–liberal versus conservative, modern versus traditional, secular versus religious.  As in my own hometown, people of great faith are suspicious of people of no faith or a different faith.  Both societies seek a defense against the onslaught of modern materialism that threatens their traditional ‘family values.’  Both society are suspicious of each other, and both are especially suspicious of each other’s government.

When we travel–whether to the ‘Axis of Evil’ or just to a place where people yodel when they’re happy, or fight bulls to impress the girls, or can’t serve breakfast until today’s croissants arrive — we enrich our lives and better understand our place on the planet.  We undercut groups that sow fear, hated, and mistrust.  People-to-people connections help us learn that we can disagree and still coexist peacefully.

Granted, there’s no easy solution, but surely getting to know Iranian culture is a step in the right direction.  Hopefully, even the most skeptical will appreciate the humanity of 70 million Iranian people.  Our political leaders sometimes make us forget that all of us on this small planet are equally precious children of God.  Having been to Iran and meeting its people face-to-face, I feel this more strongly than ever” (p. 192-193).

Wherever you are, find someone of a different culture–listen, reflect, and learn.  Talk to people with accents; you are likely to be glad when they share something of their lives.

If you can’t go traveling tomorrow, get Rick Steves’ Travel as a Political Act.  

Happy traveling; happy reading.  Aloha, Renée

pooyan-eshtiaghi-fn9XdvzbyiM-unsplash

What’s important to this young man? What brings him joy & sorrow? What do we have in common? It would be interesting to find out   Photo by POOYAN ESHTIAGHI on Unsplash

Banner photo:  Rick Steves with schoolgirls in Iran.

 

 

“Radical Travel” by Bani Amor

Although I’m not likely to stop traveling, this perspective is certainly something to consider – and make changes:

Radical Travel

Are we doing vacations wrong? How to be a better guest in someone else’s homeland.

Iolani Palace, the former seat of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i

It’s not unusual for Honolulu tourists to visit ‘Iolani Palace, the former seat of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i. But DeTour guide Terri Keko‘olani uses the visit to discuss the U.S.-backed coup in support of military and business interests after the death of King Kalākaua. YES! PHOTO BY AARON K. YOSHINO

 

IF YOU’RE ONE OF THE MORE THAN 1.4 BILLION INTERNATIONAL LEISURE TRAVELERS who left your home for someone else’s in 2018, then chances are you’re familiar with the quote “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.” First written in 1869 by Mark Twain in The Innocents Abroad, or The New Pilgrims’ Progress, this quote is so hyped you can find it copied and pasted into Instagram captions, travel blogs, and memes, on posters, mugs, and luggage tags. It continues: “Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

Too bad it’s such a lie.

The flawed core in this thinking, that those who have the privilege and access to travel are more enlightened than those who haven’t — especially considering the world’s most well-traveled people brought smallpox and small-mindedness everywhere they went — can be found in Twain’s usage of “our people.” We can assume he wasn’t accounting for the vast majority of this world’s people of color who cannot travel for leisure but are rather unwilling hosts to foreign occupations or peoples being displaced by extractivism and war. We know for sure he wasn’t referring to the Indigenous people of Turtle Island, whom he disparages as fit subjects for extermination in The Noble Red Man, his 1870 takedown of author James Fenimore Cooper’s romanticism. And he wasn’t referring to the stolen Africans and their descendants who were forced into chattel slavery and who were “vegetating” in their respective little corners of the Earth before those innocents ventured abroad and stepped foot on their lands.

So, what is the truth about travel? Are we doing our vacations wrong?

The truth is that tourism, like any other capitalistic project, is about consumption for profit. But “place” isn’t an endlessly renewable commodity — it is someone’s home, and the communities who call it so rarely factor in fairly to our conceptions of travel as an enlightening project.

From the economic instability that tourist cultures bring to their overuse of natural resources that exacerbate climate disasters, to glaring labor exploitation and gendered oppression that keep poor women of color living under the boot of White supremacist patriarchy, participating in the mass tourism industry is more likely to spread social inequality than staying home would.

Today, U.S. travelers are heading to the Global South more than ever. While Europe remains the number-one global tourist destination, and wealthy Global North nations top international tourist arrivals lists, U.S. Americans in particular prefer to vacation in the Global South and East, with 37 million headed to Mexico, 8 million to the Caribbean, 6 million to Asia, and 3 million in Central America.

From 1950 to 2018, international tourism arrivals grew from 25 million to 1.4 billion. The turn of the century marked a global shift in tourism caused by the mainstreaming of Western backpacking culture and the realization of U.S. travelers that they could fund lavish stays in “exotic” developing countries on the cheap. Poor regions became in-demand tourist destinations.

The truth is that travel isn’t “fatal to prejudice,” but tourism — and its not-so-distant ancestor colonization — can often be fatal to culture. Wielding this privilege only afforded to a minority to prop ourselves up as global citizens of a superior republic kind of defeats the purpose.

It’s time to retire the narrow implications of the Twain quote and pivot from a politically neutral consideration of travel to a systemic understanding of tourism and travel culture through a lens of social justice. If we center host cultures and follow their leads in how to — and how not to — engage with their lands as guests, if we complicate the idea of who travels and why and truthfully map the colonial legacy of the travel genre, we just may be able to tap into travel’s storied revolutionary potential.

Not-So-Innocent Abroad

“Tourists flock to my Native land for escape, but they are escaping into a state of mind while participating in the destruction of a host people in a Native place.”

Haunani-Kay Trask, essay “Lovely Hula Lands”

The impression that travel is an inherently enlightening experience that can lead to a greater good is evident in tourism where travelers participate in volunteer work — “voluntourism,” eco-travel, sustainable/ethical travel, and spiritual tourist cultures. The market for traveling supposedly to help disenfranchised communities in the Global South is booming, with little regulation for what constitutes “help” or who actually benefits from it.

While it’s possible that there’s effective work being done in these spaces, most initiatives are grounded in ideas of the White savior industrial complex, the concept that Black, Indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC) need to be saved by White folks who know better. In this way, even goodwill manifestations of tourism are still mired in layers of harm.

Consider the recent trend of “conscientious” cruising, in which companies like Carnival Cruise Line and Crystal Cruises offer extended programming presumably to aid local communities. Passengers can choose to teach English to Dominican kids for a day or help lay bricks for school buildings. These activities go far to assuage the guilt of privilege and tug at the heartstrings and pocketbooks of charitable-minded tourists, but good intentions do not compensate for the overwhelming harm caused by the cruise industry. Cruises are an all-inclusive experience that attract travelers looking for deals and ease, but they are wasteful of resources, create unnatural amounts of trash, shred coastlines and reefs, and contribute little to local economies. Just a few hours during a day stop at a port of entry is an insufficient amount of time to positively impact the lives of Jamaican orphans.

This gets to the heart of what’s wrong with voluntourism, and even tourism economies in general: They are intended for the benefit of the tourist, not centered on the needs of underprivileged destination communities. The day-to-day realities of these places will not be radically changed by token donations from multinational cruise ship corporations. And when they do have an impact, they tend to recreate a dependency on a foreign power and thwart progress toward self-determination. Who needs decolonization when a rotating class of White college kids can teach English in your village?

Few travelers seek out and center host cultures, voices, and struggles as part of their travel plans. The chasm of inequality between visitor and visited makes a truly fair exchange between them difficult to measure and nearly impossible to attain. There is no one-size-fits-all exchange — service rendered, money paid — that can balance this power dynamic. But we can strive for an understanding that host communities — especially those that include Black and Indigenous people — should be in charge of how they want their cultures, economies, and environments engaged with.

What does a more balanced exchange look like? Native notions of hospitality are driving new tourism frameworks, as Kānaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians) are doing in Hawai‘i. Solidarity delegations like those between Palestinians and Black Lives Matter activists are choosing who they’d like to open their doors to for mutual benefit. Voluntourism can work when specific expertise is requested by a host community, such as technology or medical help in a crisis.

With colonial mindsets lulling us into guilt-free, do-good travel, and Airbnb tourist dollars elbowing out residents of major travel destinations, are there equitable ways to engage in an industry that thrives off inequality? Well, there are a few rules of thumb.

YES! Photo by Federica Armstrong
Kyle Kajihiro and Terri Keko‘olani

Kyle Kajihiro and Terri Keko‘olani design their tours to expose the everyday militarism that oppresses Hawaiians. Tours like these challenge neocolonial conceptions of places as for the taking, instead framing them for the purpose of Native communities’ self-determination. YES! PHOTOS BY AARON K. YOSHINO

All-Inclusive

“People of color are the most traveled people on the planet; every time we leave our houses, we travel.”

Faith Adiele, June 2017

If you’re a social justice-minded visitor, think less about deals while traveling and more about what to avoid, starting with all-inclusive resorts. Here’s why:

Of travelers’ expenditures spent on all-inclusive package tours as a whole, 80 percent goes to airlines, hotels, and other international companies whose headquarters are located in the Global North, and not to local businesses, estimates the United Nations Environment Programme. In a tourism-dependent country like Thailand, 70 percent of all money spent by tourists leaves the country, and that figure is 80 percent for the Caribbean, perhaps the all-inclusive capital of the world. Avoid cruises — the water-borne version of the all-inclusive resort — as they additionally destroy reefs and pollute local waters.

Stay in hotels owned by locals. Eat in restaurants owned by locals. Shop at stores owned by locals.

Some do’s and don’ts require self-awareness: Practices like excessive haggling, refusing to adapt to local customary dress, taking pictures of people without their consent, or not bothering to learn the local language all signal that you lack empathy regarding your power and privilege abroad.

These are adjustments that individuals can do to ameliorate the direct harm that mass tourism causes. But what can be done about the biggest problem of travel culture: lack of inclusion?

To say that travel media has a race issue would be a meta-joke; travel media is a race issue. Not only are the editors of the magazines, the travel show hosts, the commercials, brochures, blogs, YouTubers, and Instagram accounts overwhelmingly White, they too-often depict White folks self-actualizing in lands colonized by their settler ancestors. And if they are depicted hugging Black kids, the caption will definitely quote Mark Twain.

It’s true that most BIPOC, disabled people, LGBTQIA+ people, and lower-income folks contend with barriers that keep them from enjoying leisure travel as much as wealthy White people do, but to purport they’re not doing it at all is erasure. A survey conducted by Mandala Research concluded that Black Americans spent $63 billion on travel in 2018, for example.

As a queer Latinx kid from Brooklyn who left home as a teen to hitchhike around the continent and later chose to write about travel, I found belonging in the excursions of Langston Hughes in I Wonder as I Wander, jumping into the backseat as he drove through Havana in 1931. I found it in bell hooks’ Belonging: A Culture of Place, running alongside her over Kentucky hills decades before I was born, and in coughing up exhaust with Andrew X. Pham as he biked along the roads of Vietnam in Catfish and Mandala in the 1990s. As Faith Adiele, author of Meeting Faith: The Forest Journals of a Black Buddhist Nun, often says, no one travels more than people of color. Whether for work or via displacement or through forced migration, BIPOC must go the distance to navigate a global White supremacist culture, often without even having to leave our countries. Read them.

In response to travel’s race gap and thanks to social media, people of color, specifically Black women, are creating their own lanes.

Founded by Dash Harris Machado in 2010, AfroLatino Travel connects people across the African diaspora to places the travel guides usually tell us to avoid, inspiring a variety of similar brands in its wake. Evie Robinson and Zim Ugochukwu started their businesses on social networks in the past decade (Nomadness Travel Tribe and Travel Noire, respectively), spawning what has since been dubbed the New Black Travel Movement, and Noirbnb was started after too many alarming #AirbnbingWhileBlack stories went viral.

A rock formation at He‘eia State Park

A rock formation at He‘eia State Park is where locals leave leis and other small gifts of thanks to Kāne‘ohe Bay. The Marine Corps Air Station dominates the far view, though local fishing boats and tourist boats share the bay with the military. YES! PHOTO BY AARON K. YOSHINO

Decolonizing Travel

“For even if history is most often recounted by victors, it’s not always easy to tell who the rightful narrators should be, unless we keep redefining with each page what it means to conquer and be conquered.”

Edwidge Danticat, “Create Dangerously”

Critical analyses that offer solutions to the ills of mass tourism seem to be propagating in disparate spaces, from Anu Taranath’s Beyond Guilt Trips: Mindful Travel in an Unequal World to A People’s Guide to Los Angeles by Laura Pulido, Laura Barraclough, and Wendy Cheng to Detours: A Decolonial Travel Guide to Hawai‘i, edited by Vernadette Vicuña Gonzalez and Hōkūlani Aikau.

Rather than telling tourists where to go, Detours tells them how to act. For one, “no” is a word that guests need to get more comfortable with.

Detours was inspired by A People’s Guide to Los Angeles, which seeks to “uncover the rich and vibrant stories of political struggle, oppression, and resistance in the everyday landscapes of major cities,” according to its summary. Detours writers met with the People’s Guide writers, and “we all agreed that our project is slightly different,” Aikau told me in an email. “Their project is about unearthing alternative, radical stories of places, and the conventions of the travel guide genre support their aims. Our project is about decolonization, not touring — even if differently and more radically.”

Out this November from Duke University Press, Detours flips the traditional Hawai‘i travel guide narrative by reclaiming tourism using an Indigenous perspective. “The essays, stories, artworks, maps, and tour itineraries in Detours create decolonial narratives in ways that will forever change how readers think about and move throughout Hawai‘i,” the book’s summary promises.

Aikau said Detours “is more than just critique — it is also a series of instructions for how to contribute to decolonization.” She continued, “We make the case that Detours is not just a redirection; it is a redirection with a very specific purpose — the restoration of ea,” referring to the concept of the breath and sovereignty of the Hawaiian nation, land, and its people.

Included in the guide is a section of specific tours created by local scholars and activists, from a decolonial tour of downtown Honolulu to an environmental justice bus tour of Lualualei Valley and its naval facilities. The book actually borrows its title from one of these. Hawai‘i’s DeTour guides Kyle Kajihiro and Terri Keko‘olani lead visitors to often-overlooked sites of U.S. military occupation on the island of O‘ahu, educating them on the disturbing link between settler colonialism and tourism in the Pacific. Taking part in one of these tours inspired doctoral candidate Tina Grandinetti to become a demilitarization activist. She ended up creating a critical walking tour of the rapidly gentrifying Kaka‘ako neighborhood for the Detoursguidebook.

“The U.S. military occupies about a quarter of the landmass of both Okinawa Island and O‘ahu, and our Indigenous communities pay the price for this,” said Grandinetti, who grew up on O‘ahu in the shadow of the Schofield Barracks Army base near the small town of Wahiawā.

“I grew up feeling a lot of anger and resentment toward the U.S. military, but it felt hard to communicate those feelings in a productive way. The DeTour showed me how the everyday violence of militarism can be made visible, and taught me that there are so many ways we can work to challenge it.” The average tourist who is unaware of Kānaka resistance or perspectives on the mass tourist presence on their land could receive a real education by taking part in a DeTour.

“Every time I went on base as a kid,” Grandinetti continued, “I felt like I was entering a world where I didn’t belong: a hypermilitarized, Americanized, White space. [DeTour] showed me that we can reclaim spaces for community even as they remain under occupation.”

Traveling and taking part in these real-time tours connects the tourist’s body to the land’s history and people in a way that staying at home and reading about it might not. “I remember feeling this most strongly when [activist guides Kajihiro and Keko‘olani] took us to a huge sculpted map of O‘ahu. We circled around the map and repeated Pearl Harbor’s true name over and over again: Ke Awalao o Pu‘uloa. Our voices got louder and more confident each time we repeated it. It was such a powerful moment.”

Tours like these challenge neocolonial conceptions of places as for the taking, instead framing them for the purpose of Native communities’ self-determination.

Aikau told me that she and her co-editor hope their book will inspire others to write decolonial guides to their own places. “What are the Indigenous place names where they live? What are the layers of stories that lie beneath concrete, asphalt, and street names? What are the protocols for asking permission to come onto territory in the place where you live?”

Think Globally, Travel Locally

“Once you commit yourself to a place, you begin to share responsibility for what happens there.”

Scott Russell Sanders, essay “Local ­Matters”

It’s easy to look to marginalized people for the answers to problems they didn’t create. It’s harder to look within and to question our own behaviors that enable that marginalization. As a traveler myself and in studying and writing about decolonizing travel culture, I’ve come to understand that the impulse to travel stems from an entitlement that is inextricable from colonialism.

Wanderlust is often a condition of lacking roots. White supremacy has created a crisis of identity for settlers who have little connection to the lands they are on or the communities they are a part of. And for this reason, they are always trying to escape, move on to the next place, consume, and repeat.

I get what Mark Twain was saying — I do, and to an extent, I agree. Settler colonialism and capitalism tell us to fear our neighbor, to chase excess by laboring in individualism. And when that gets too stressful, to escape “to Timbuktu” (as if it’s not an actual place in Mali). But taking colonial mindsets on the road is what has led to the majority of human suffering on the planet, from slavery to genocide and domination. If modern-day travel culture isn’t based on the goal of working against these ills, then it is only furthering that agenda. And that is the truth about travel.

So to decolonize travel as we move about the world, we need to dismantle White supremacy at home.

In Belonging, cultural critic bell hooks connects this lack of a relationship with home and race: “Again and again as I travel around I am stunned by how many citizens in our nation feel lost, feel bereft of a sense of direction, feel as though they cannot see where our journeys lead, that they cannot know where they are going.” What she calls “a wilderness of spirit” can be linked to much of the White supremacist terrorism that only seems to be on the rise. “Many folks feel no sense of place.”

Scott Russell Sanders has echoed this in much of his writing, most notably in Staying Put: Making a Home in a Restless World: “My nation’s history does not encourage me, or anyone, to belong somewhere with a full heart. A vagabond wind has been blowing here for a long while … I feel the force of it.” The lure of tourism to leave it all and disappear, as it were, seems to be strongest in the people with the most power. Looking at the consequences of mass tourism, we can conclude that the opposite of Twain’s remarks may be true — that “vegetating in one’s corner of the globe” may be what we need more of. As Sanders concludes, “I wish to consider the virtue and discipline of staying put.”

I always find it fascinating that so many international U.S. travelers are so unacquainted with the states in their country, or even neighboring districts, or, for that matter, their actual neighbors. Segregation seems to see no end in our nation’s story. These travelers would rather help build schools for kids in Africa than let their kids attend schools with Black kids in Brooklyn. The adage “you don’t know where you’re going until you know where you come from” can apply to our nation’s memory as a whole.

Perhaps we need to think about home and belonging more intentionally and invest in our local communities to recognize our important roles in them — before we plan our next big vacation. Escape is easy. Long-term commitment takes care and work. Many of the people shouldering that responsibility are the ones who can’t escape, and they deserve a break, too.

With a combination of staying put, learning our histories, and getting to know our neighbors, we can become better global neighbors — and then better global guests.

Decolonization is both the journey and the destination. And to Mark Twain: All of our people need it sorely on these accounts.

By Bani Amor

Bani Amor is a queer travel writer who explores the relationships between race, place, and power. Instagram: @baniamor, Twitter: @bani_amor

In YES! Summer 2019, p. 14-20.

So travel – at home or away.  Let’s be conscious and act in inclusive, healing ways.

Aloha, Renée

 

Indonesia: A Vast, Complex Country

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.
  • free-vector-map-of-indonesia-30727

    Indonesia – a country of thousands of islands.

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;
  • bull-cremation-parade.gif

    Cremation parade in Bali. Photo by BKristel

    Gulungan-penjar

    In front of every household, penjor poles are designed specifically to carry the Hindu prayers up to the Gods – part of the Gulungan Festival, in Ubud, Bali, Nov. 1-11, 2017 – a celebration of good over evil.  Photo by BK.

    women-with-offerings

    Balinese women taking offerings to their temple.  Photo by BK

  • To see the beauty of nature;
  • red-and-orange-flowers.
  • To experience vibrant cities such as Jakarta;
  • jakarta-1948146_960_720
  • images-15 Jakarta images from <https://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photos-jakarta-city-skyline-image9548188&gt;
  • To experience the city of Yogyakarta, known for gamelan music and traditional puppetry;
  • 59904-004-1692C971

    Javanese shadow puppet.  Image from <https://www.britannica.com/art/shadow-puppet

  • 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.
  • DSCF0024-1134x641

    Mt. Agung, Bali – photo by Rio Helmi

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.
    • Banda-Islands-Book-Launch

      Just released book: The Banda Islands: Hidden Histories & Miracles   by Jan Russell

    • 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/
      • PA-22663573-1-1

        Many fishermen are victims of modern slavery in Indonesia.  Slavery involves trafficking of vulnerable migrants, forced labor, and the commercial sexual exploitation of both adults and children. <https://www.globalslaveryindex.org/country/indonesia/&gt;.

        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.
    • Soekarno

      Indonesian President Sukarno, 1945-1967

       

    • 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.
President-Suharto

Indonesian President Muhammad Suharto, held power from 1967-1998

  • 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&gt;
  • Joko-Widodo

    President Joko Widodo

  • 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.
    • 1000Despite 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.
  • AP_16321181166668-940x580

    Basuki Tjahaja Purnama – also known by his Hakka Chinese nickname Ahok was Jakarta’s  first non-Muslim governor; he is  now in jail for blasphemy against the Quoran.  Image from <https://asiancorrespondent.com/2017/02/indonesia-ahok-back-work-jakarta-governor-weekend/&gt;

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-4486906/Jakarta-governor-given-2-year-prison-sentence-blasphemy.html#ixzz4y7A2n891

    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&gt;).
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    A Hizbut Tahrir rally in Jakarta, the Indonesian capital, calling for the creation of a caliphate and the enforcement of Sharia law in 2015. Credit Tatan Syuflana/Associated Press

  • 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:

Religious_map_of_Indonesia

From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Indonesia

  • 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).

From: <http://www.academia.edu/1196557/Transmigration_in_Indonesia_Lessons_from_its_environmental_and_social_impacts>

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.

free-vector-map-of-indonesia-30727

Bali is a little island in the south central chain of Indonesian islands.

Image from: <http://365psd.com/images/previews/e9b/free-vector-map-of-indonesia-30727.png

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Indonesian beach – Image from: <http://www.youwall.com/index.php?ver=NDgzOA&gt;

Come visit Indonesia.  There is much to discover.

Aloha & sampai jumpa, Renée

Post banner:  <https://www.jonesaroundtheworld.com/photos-komodo-national-park/>

 

Mt. Agung – Erupting?

 

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.

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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.

From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Agung

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.

bali-volcano-1078412

 

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.[6][13]

In late October 2017, the activity of the volcano decreased significantly, leading to lowering of the highest status of emergency.”

From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Agung

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.”

Bali-volcano-Agung-seismic-graph-1078022

Seismic activity at Mt. Agung

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.

large-bali-maps-for-free-download-and-print-on-world-map

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.

Indonesia President Joko Widodo visits a temporary shelter for people who live near Mount Agung, a volcano on the highest alert level,  in Karangasem

Indonesian President Joko Widodo visited shelters near Mount Agung and urged residents to follow evacuation procedures after reports that some people were reluctant to leave their homes.  Image from: <https://www.theweathernetwork.com/news/articles/evacuations-amid-fears-of-volanco-bali/86750&gt;.

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:

  1. Pak Made (Kadek) Gunata, co-founder of the Bali Spirit group and Bali Regreen, https://www.facebook.com/BaliSpirit/ and
  2. Rotary Club Bali Ubud Sunset – FB contact <https://www.facebook.com/groups/129279773753349/&gt; & 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:

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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.

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Mt Agung still steaming away seen through “penjors” erected for Galungan celebrations, the Balinese Hindu holiday to mark the triumph of good over evil and when ancestral spirits visit the Earth.  Photo by Rio Helmi

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Raising the flag at the PVMBG Mt Agung observation post in Rendang.- Photo by Rio Helmi

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.

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Bali evacuees

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&gt;.

 

“Thank You For Waiting” by Simon Armitage

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.

Go to:

https://www.simonarmitage.com/thank-you-for-waiting/

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Simon Armitage

Be patient – and enjoy.  Aloha, Renée

Photos:

Simon Armitage: https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/560/media/images/50068000/jpg/_50068743_50068742.jpg

Waiting room:

http://www.bill-helf.us/101.%20Ontario,%20CA%20%20International%20Airport%20to%20Seattle,%20WA%20International%20Airport3001.jpg

Seen at http://www.ubudwritersfestival.com/

 

Mrs. Weidman’s 2nd graders in Effingham, IL want to know about Hawaii

One of the highlights of our recent U.S. road trip was stopping at my cousin Elaine’s in Effingham, IL.  Her grandson, Keegan, a 2nd grader, is in an elementary school that has  for the past 28 years been doing a unit on Hawaii.

Keegan-

Keegan in Casey, IL – “A Small Town with a Big Heart”

Since Barry and I were going to be in town, we were invited to answer their questions about our island home.

hawaiian-islands-in-the-Pacific

1) Since it is so far away from the rest of the United States, why is Hawaii a state?

Hawaii is far away from Mainland U.S. A. – that is true.

  • From California to Hawaii is 2,471 miles.
  • From Japan to Hawaii is 4,980 miles away.

Before it was a U.S. possession, Hawaii was an independent country.   However on Jan. 17, 1893, Hawaii’s monarchy was overthrown by a group of U.S. businessmen and sugar planters (who wanted to make more money).  With the help of U.S. military, the business people forced Queen Liliuokalani, the Queen of the Kingdom of Hawaii, to abdicate.  She give up her rights and kingdom although she was the rightful leader. She didn’t want her people killed.

Queen-Liliuokalani

Queen Liliuokalani

Two years later, Hawaii was annexed as a U.S. territory and eventual admitted in 1959 as the 50th state in the union.

2) What races live in Hawaii?

  • The state’s overall racial breakdown: white, 22.7%; black or African American, 1.5%; American Indian and Alaska Native, 0.2%; Asian, 37.7%; Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander, 9.4%. The Hispanic or Latino population, of any race, was 8.9%.
Hawaiian-ohana

Ohana – family in Hawaii

3) Have you seen a volcano erupt?

  • Yes, on the Big Island of Hawaii many years ago, Barry and I saw a volcano erupting!
  • Lava and steam have been coming up in various places on the Big Island for many years. Johnny and Sigrid were just there in February and were right by extremely hot, slowly flowing lava.
  • On Maui, we have two volcanoes – one extinct (dead) and one dormant (sleeping), so we don’t have lava flows now.
  • The Hawaiian islands were formed by volcanoes.
Types-of-lava-flows

Types of lava flows – from: <http://www.sandatlas.org/types-lava-flows/&gt;

Big Island Kilauea Volcano

Go to this link to see molten lava:

<https://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2015/aug/28/lava-hawaiis-kilauea-volcano-video?subject=Big Island Volcano>

4) What are the black sand beaches like?

  • Black sand is hot – very hot when the noon sun shines upon it.
  • The dark color absorbs the sunlight, so if your feet are bare, you have to run really quickly to get into the water.
  • That sand is black because it is fine particles of volcanic rock.
  • Most sand in Hawaii is silicon dioxide (quartz) that is white or whitish yellow; it has been broken down from rocks and minerals by wind, rain and freezing/thawing cycles into smaller grains. In a few places, the sand is red.
  • Also, sea creatures such as the parrot fish chew up minerals and leave sand behind.
green-sea-turtle

Green sea turtle – you can find them in shallow waters

5) What is the weather like?

  • Nice   – highs are around 87 degrees in June, July, and August and lows of about 64 degrees are in January and February.
  • Because temperatures drop about 3.2F (1.3C) every 1,000 feet (305m), the summit of Haleakala is roughly 32F (13C) cooler than the beaches.
  • Rainfall is low in Kihei (10 inches a year), but on the east of Maui, is Hana, a rain forest (400 inches a year).
  • Hawaii is called a “tropical paradise” because its climate makes people feel comfortable almost every day of the year.

6) Are there a lot of shark sightings?

  • No. Sharks do live in the ocean, but they aren’t often seen here in Hawaii.  One thousand miles south of the Hawaiian Islands, in the Palmyra Atoll, however, there are about 20 sharks every half mile.  So it depends where you are what sea life you’ll find.
  • About three shark attacks occur per year in Hawaii. Few shark attacks are fatal.  Sharks do not have very good eyesight, so it is best to stay out of the ocean at dawn, dusk, or at times when the water is murky.  Sharks are looking for turtles to eat – not humans.
  • The Hawaii shark attack rate is surprisingly low considering the thousands of people who swim, surf, and dive in Hawaiian waters every day.
  • The most frequently encountered Hawaiian reef sharks are the White Tipped Reef Shark, Scalloped Hammerhead Shark, Tiger Shark, Galapagos Shark, Gray Reef Shark, and the Sandbar Shark.

7) Do people really do the hula?

huladancers

lhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Xr1Wd17w-g

  • Yes, the men and women – and children – dance hula. The Hawaiians have a powerful dance, music, and chant culture!

8) How is Christmas celebrated in Hawaii?

  • Over half the people in Hawaii practice Christianity.
  • Of those, 18.74% are Catholic; 5.24% are LDS; 3.91% are another Christian faith; 0.06% in Hawaii are Jewish; 5.14% are an eastern faith; 0.05% Islam.
  • Barry and I have a Christmas tree, church services, and celebrations with our families.   Because the weather is warm, we take food and spend our Christmas Day at the beach with our friends and family.
  • Because we live in Hawaii, we get to enjoy and experience other cultures and religions that our friends and neighbors practice.

On Maui – Santa arrives by canoe

Christmas-santa

9) Are there any interesting animals on Maui?

  • Yes. Many – many – especially sea creatures.
  • My favorite one? Humpback whales that come to Hawaii from about December through February.
humpback-whale

Humpback Whale – breaching.  Scientists still have much to learn about whales.

Humpback Whale Facts:

  • Whales are mammals: breathe air, warm blooded, live birth, have hair, & mom’s produce milk.
  • Fifty-eight million years ago, whales were land animals.  But there was global warming and less land and food, so the whales evolved back into sea creatures.
  • Their trip from Alaska to Hawaii (and then back to Alaska) takes whales 5 to 7 weeks at 3 to 8 miles per hour – each way!  It’s about 3,000 miles they swim to give birth and mate in our shallow, sandy bottom, warm water.
  • A whale calf is 15 foot at birth and drinks about 120 pounds of milk per day.
  • Because their throats are about the size of a grapefruit, the Humpback whales don’t eat for about four months here because our fish are too big.  The whales have to wait until they get back to Alaska where there is krill,  small shrimp and other small cold water fish for them to eat!
  • All whales vocalize, but the males “sing.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xo2bVbDtiX8
  • Life span: 40-80 years
  • Length: 35-45 feet
  • Weight 35-45 tons ( 1 ton = 2,000 pounds)
  • Importance of whales to microscopic beings: Scientists report that when whales feed, often at great depths, and then return to the surface to breathe, they mix up the water column. That spreads nutrients and microorganisms through different marine zones, which can lead to feeding bonanzas for other creatures.
  • And the materials in whale urine and excrement, especially iron and nitrogen, serve as effective fertilizers for plankton.

Come visit us to see other animals, birds, and sea life.

10) Do you have turtles in Hawaii?

  • Two kinds you’ll find in Hawaii (among others) are the Green Sea turtle and the endangered Hawksbill.
  • At Ho’okipa Beach on Maui, you can sometimes see 25 or more turtles, big and small, basking – resting and warming up – on shore every afternoon.
  • Thirty years ago, basking seldom happened. But now, turtles are protected. It’s against the law to eat them.
big-turtle

Some turtles can weigh 300 pounds

 

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Hawksbill

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Basking turtles at Ho’okipa Beach Park

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Waiting for the excavation of a Hawksbill turtle nest. Because the Hawksbills are very endangered, volunteers guard their nests from dogs, mongoose, other people . . . If the turtles don’t hatch in a timely way, scientists come to help them get out to the ocean.

hawksbill-babies

Hawksbill turtles emerging from their nest.  Each is about the size of a U.S. quarter.

We have other much more common animals:

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Lovebirds come to our bird feeder every day.

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Mango is a myna bird that Johnny rescued when she fell from her nest.

11) What can you do for fun?

Windsurfing

Windsurf on Maui

H---jump

Watch what the locals do before you jump.

Ho'okipa

You can surf, kite sail, windsurf, swim, canoe, . . . in the Pacific Ocean.

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Hike to waterfalls

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Watch for rainbows.  See the faint second one here?

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Look for beautiful plants and flowers

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See sunflowers growing on Maui – an experiment to see what can replace the sugar cane that has been growing here for about 140 years.

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Learn how to climb a coconut tree – and make coconut milk and coconut cookies.

And of course, you must come paddle Hawaiian outrigger canoe with me.  Kihei Canoe Club has visitor paddle every Tuesday and Thursday.  Be on the beach by 7:15 am.  You will learn the basics of paddling, hear a bit of Hawaiian culture (especially if Uncle Kimokea is there), and get to be on the ocean with experienced paddlers.  We never know what we will see.   http://www.kiheicanoeclub.com/

Kihei-Canoe-Club-copy

As for our time in Effingham, Barry and I had a very good time meeting Keegan’s classmates and teachers – and answering their excellent questions.

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Keegan’s classmates in Effingham, IL

Mrs

Cousin Elaine brought juice and made “Hawaiian” cookies with macadamia nuts and coconuts.  We all had a good time.

Of course, there is much more to say about the Hawaiian Islands.  Come visit and see for yourself.

Aloha, Renée

NaluKai

Nalu and Kailani looking for adventure. You come too.

kbs-aloha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hawaii for Keegan417

 

 

 

Thought for the Day: “The light”

“The light falls only on the stranger,” an ancient Arabic proverb declares.  This saying can mean that individuals are often not celebrated in their own countries – nor in their own families.  While familiarity may not mean contempt, it certainly lends itself to disregard.  However, one of the joys of traveling allows us to be the stranger – and to see others as strangers.

During these last two months, Barry and I drove from St. Louis, Missouri to as far south as Key West, Florida and as far north as Eau Claire, Wisconsin – visiting family, friends, meeting new people, and having new experiences.  We felt the special attention showered  upon wanderers.  And we were eager to see others.

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The proverb points to another way travelers benefit in their wandering.  “The light falls only on the stranger” can also mean that the one who sees most clearly – what is special – is often by those who are seeing something for the first time.

It’s a challenge for us all – those at home and those on the road – to see the light that  is in each person and the light that surrounds us everywhere.  What can you see when you look carefully?

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Aloha, Renée

Map from <http://www.freeworldmaps.net/download/maps/united-states/united-states-map.jpg

In America: Guns & Violence

Barry and I are on the road again.

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Barry loading up our bicycles in St. Louis

At the beginning of March, we flew from Maui to St. Louis, MO, where much of my family lives.  My nephew is getting married there in April, so we will join the family celebration.  Before that event, we are taking a road trip to visit friends, family, high school and college friends, Servas hosts, and a newly discovered first cousin who lives in Boyton Beach, Florida.  We are now in Plantation, Florida, visiting dear friends, Fran and Roy, whom we have known for many years.  On our way, we have visited – among others – a Green Party Servas family in Memphis, TN, a Mennonite Servas family in rural Macon, MS, my terrific brother and his wife in Gainesville, and  three of Barry’s high school friends from New York, who now live in Florida. . . .  We have more great encounters ahead.

One of our stops along the way was in Memphis at the Iron Works Museum.  What we learned there in the Guns, Violence, and Justice special exhibit – about guns and violence in the U.S. – shocked us.

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Guns and violence

Among many facts, we learned:

Percent of Americans who say they have a gun in their home in 2014:

By race –

White 41%, Hispanic 20%, Black 19%

By environment –

Rural 51%, Urban 36%, Suburban 25%

By ideology –

Conservative 41%, Moderate 36%, Liberal 26%

Number of guns per 100 people by country:

U.S. – 88.8

Yemen – 54.8  [this is a war-torn country so citizens are likely to have guns, but the U.S. has more]

Switzerland – 45.7

Finland 45.3

Serbia 37.8

Mass Shootings – since 1982 in the U.S. [when 4 or more people are killed in one incident]:

Total Mass Shootings – 84      Total Victims – 1,353

Type of Weapons Used in Mass Shootings:

Semi-automatic Handgun – 73

Rifle – 29

Revolver – 24

Shotgun – 23

Top Five Reasons Americans Own Guns:

60% – Personal Safety/Protection

36% – Hunting

13% – Recreation/Sport

8% – Target Practice

5% – Second Amendment rights

When I went to school in Southeast Missouri, a date could involve target practicing.  Now I’ve been in Hawaii for many years.  The low gun violence rate there is another reason to say, “MauiKa ʻOi” – Maui is the best.

guns-and-justice-poster

“This group exhibition features artists using guns and gun references in their artwork to address issues impacting our lives. The works in Guns, Violence and Justice explore concepts of militia consciousness, individual and national accumulations of weapons, protection and aggression, recreation and justice. Several artists are examining their personal relationships with guns while others are engaging in a cultural critique in response to the increasing gun violence across the country.

Participating artists: Boris Bally | David Hess | Darryl Lauster | Bill Price | Stephen Saracino | Victor Hugo Zayas”

Go to –https://www.metalmuseum.org/visit

Gun Deaths  – “33,636 people died from firearm related causes in the United States [in 2013].  63% of firearm related deaths were suicide [my emphasis]. 33.3% were homicide and 3.7% were unintentional, undetermined, legal interventions or war.

Of those gun deaths in 2013:                                    Male                       Female

Total White 25,044                                                    21,116                       3,928

Total Black  7,797                                                         7,016                          781

Total Hispanic  2,951                                                   2,595                          356

Total Asian or Pacific Islander 469                              381                           88

Total American Indian or Alaskan Native 326          281                           45

Many of these facts (with sources) surprised me by not fitting into  assumptions that I’ve made.

gun-tools

Guns converted into tools.

On the wall behind this artist’s piece of transformed guns: “In 1791, total estimated population of the U.S. – 3,929,214 at the same time total estimated firearms in U.S. – 118,629.  In 2016, total estimated population of the U.S.  325,025,419 and total estimated firearms in U.S. 357,000,000.”

There are more guns in the U.S. than there are people!  That’s ridiculous!  The current administration has passed a bill that allows people who have a history of mental problems to buy guns!!!  What’s wrong with us?

The exhibit presents gun facts and artists creations.

twisted-guns

Twisted guns

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QUAAK (Quintessential Ugly Amphibious Attack Kraft), 2016 – Steel, pewter, brass, bronze, cherry – by Bill Price

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G-11-12GA GooseGun, 2016 – Steel, shotgun, brass, maple, mahogany, bumper guards – by Bill Price

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Museum viewers reaction to this exhibit – some more informed than others

Besides the special gun exhibit, the museum also has metal pieces of beauty, humor, and whimsy.

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Metal flowers

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Beautiful metal gate

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Metal bird

 

Banner image:  Loaded Menorah 2, 2016 – 925 silver, altered handguns, gun barrels and gun components (steel) (weapons courtesy of Goods for Guns Anti-Violence Coalition, City of Pittsburgh, PA – by Boris Bally

P.S.  More information: in  the Columbia, South Carolina April 2, 2017 paper, The State,  p. 9A article by Lisa Marie Pane, “Once-booming gun industry recalibrating under Trump,” notes: “President Donald Trump promised to revive manufacturing in the United States, but there’s one once-burgeoning sector poised to shrink under his watch: the gun industry.

Fears of government limits on guns – some real, some perceived – led to a surge in demand during President Barack Obama’s tenure and manufacturers leaped to keep up.  Over the decade ending in 2015, the number of U.S. companies licensed to make firearms jumped a whopping 362 percent.  But sales are down and the bubble appears to be bursting with a staunch advocate for gun rights in the White House and Republicans ruling Congress.”

fileZD5F6WF0

In this March 9, 2017, photo, a row of AR-15 style rifles manufactured by Daniel Defense sit in a vault at the company’s headquarters in Black Creek. Ga.

Image from: https://www.scribd.com/article/343693403/Once-Booming-Gun-Industry-Now-Recalibrating-Under-Trump

May all guns remain in their vaults.

Go to the Metal Museum when you are in Memphis.  And let’s put guns to good use: transform them into art.   Aloha, Renée

Bali: Monkeys

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In the Monkey Forest Sanctuary – monkeys in the trees and on the ground. rr photo

Filtered sunlight makes its way through the tall canopy, the stone statues of snakes and monkeys, the ornate temples, and the calls of monkeys create an eerie, spirit-filled setting.  Visitors follow trails; a deep ravine runs through the park grounds, at the bottom flows a rocky stream. The heavily forested and hilly Ubud Monkey Forest covers about 27 acres (10 hectares) containing at least 115 different species of trees and over 600 crab-eating  macaques (Balinese long-tailed macaques).

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Crab-eating Macaque and her baby. rr photo

The monkeys roam freely – doing all their monkey business – in the Monkey Forest Sanctuary, Ubud. Although these macaques are called “crab-eating,”  they often eat fruits and many other things; they are native to Southeast Asia and often used in research.  Since they  are most active during the day, visitors can observe their activities – caring for their young, mating, fighting, and grooming  – at close range.

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Monkeys hang out on the walkway railing in the Monkey Forest Sanctuary. rr photo

Five groups of monkeys inhabit the park, each occupying different territories.  In recent years here, the monkey population has become larger than a natural environment could support, so conflicts between the groups are unavoidable, but it also means that visitors can see more monkeys here than in the wild.

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Monkeys playing in the trees above. rr photo

Know that the monkeys are interested in any food you have.  So, don’t be casually walking along enjoying your fresh young coconut.  You are likely – actually guaranteed – to be jumped.  Likewise, monkeys can smell food in your backpack; don’t count on just hiding your food.

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This monkey down by the stream is trying to open a coconut. rr photo

The Monkey Forest park staff feed the monkeys sweet potatoes and other vegetables three times a day, providing them with their main source of food in the park, and so, the monkeys here are usually not as super naughty as in some other places.

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Monkeys being fed corn-on-the cob. rr photo

In general, monkeys will not come up to you if you do not bring bananas or any other food.  But they are smart and curious, and they may think you have food in that bag you are carrying, and they know how to take a lid off a bottle in search of whatever delightful drink they think you might have there. We saw a female trying valiantly to crack open a coconut by hitting it repeatedly with the side of her hand.  She used a folded leaf to cushion the blow to her hand.

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Monkey working to unbutton this girl’s pocket. rr photo

Once as I was walking along Monkey Forest Road and not even in the sanctuary, a monkey, a  BIG monkey, climbed up my leg to check out the bottle I was carrying.  When he saw it was only a plastic bottle of water, he climbed back down.  Luckily – and surprisingly to me, I didn’t freak out.  I was very happy I was wearing pants.

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See the monkey on this girl’s back? It’s working on unzipping her backpack. rr photo.

Monkey Forest Sanctuary site recommendations include:

  • Leave any non-essential bags and bottles at the ticket counter.
  • Do not bring in food or drinks to the park.
  • Do not feed the monkeys peanuts, biscuits, bread, or any other human snacks because they are detrimental to monkey health.  Some of the monkeys are now obese 😦 from such feeding.  You may give the monkeys bananas that can be purchased at the entrance, but use care in giving the bananas.
  •   Never-
    • scream
    • pull at a monkey or
    • move suddenly.
  • Do hang on to, or better yet, hide –
    • caps,
    • earrings,
    • cameras,
    • phones,
    • pens,
    • glasses,
    • or whatever might be taken.  Don’t have anything shiny, money sticking out of your pocket, or your computer available in your open bag.
  • If you do feed the monkeys, always look out for the claws and teeth of the dominant male.  He should be given food first to avoid fighting or you getting bitten.
  • Don’t get close to the babies.  Especially don’t get between a mom and her baby.
  • When you smile, don’t show your teeth.  In monkey understanding, this is considered an aggressive gesture.  Monkey grimaces are indicators of inferiority while panting and open-mouthed threats are indicators of dominance.
  • If you have a child with you, be particularly careful.

The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary staff in the green uniforms are throughout the park in case you need assistance.

monkeyback2

Some people hold bananas above their heads to encourage monkeys to climb up to their shoulders – in order to get a “cool” photo. That is really not a good idea. rr photo

Even if you are careful, it is possible to get scratched or bitten.  The monkeys are wild animals, and they are not afraid of humans.  I haven’t heard of monkeys having rabies here, but some dogs do.  Although dogs aren’t allowed in the sanctuary, I’ve seen a monkey and a young, rambunctious dog near the park entrance scraping over a bit of food.  So don’t take chances.  A puncture wound or even a scratch in a humid, hot climate such as Bali’s can quickly become infected.  Seek immediate medical attention even if your wound seems minor.

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Monkeys here, monkeys there, monkeys all around. rr photo

Even with all these cautions, I recommend that you go to the Monkey Forest Sanctuary.  Except for that one curious, climbing-up-my-leg monkey, I haven’t had any others bother me.  They are fun to watch.  And it’s fun to watch tourists interact with the monkeys too.

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Tourists feeding monkeys at the Monkey Forest Sanctuary. photo from MFS website.

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A monkey statue – and a real monkey in the Monkey Forest Sanctuary. rr photo

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On a hot day, the monkeys like to cool off in their Monkey Forest Sanctuary pool. rr photo

The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary  is not only a tourist attraction with about 10,000 visitors a  month but also an important site in the spiritual  life of the local community. The Monkey Forest grounds are home to three Hindu temples, all apparently constructed around 1350!

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Temple in Monkey Forest Sanctuary. rr photo

The Main Temple is used for worshiping a personification of Shiva, the transformer. The Pura Beji Temple is a “Holy Spring” bathing temple, a place of spiritual and physical cleansing and purification prior to religious ceremonies.

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Temple pool – holy water. rr photo

The Prajapati Temple is used to pray for procreation and the protection of life. A cemetery adjacent to this temple receives the bodies of the deceased for temporary burial while they await a mass cremation ceremony (because of the extremely high costs), held approximately every five years.

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Monkeys among the graves. rr photo

The temples play an important role in the spiritual life of the local community, and the monkey and its mythology are important in the Balinese art tradition. The Monkey Forest area is sanctified by the local community, and some sacred areas of the temples are closed to everyone except those willing to pray and to wear proper Balinese praying attire.

On-going research and conservation programs also happen here with researchers from  around the world  focusing particularly on the monkey social interaction and behavior with their surrounding environment.

So go to the Monkey Forest Sanctuary for the monkeys, the trees, the temples.  Especially if you are aware, you will have fun.

Selamat jalan, Renée

Information from:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubud_Monkey_Forest

“The Holy Monkey Forest of Sangeh” by Bill Dalton, Bali Advertiser, 26 Sept. – 12 Oct. 2016, p 26.

Text and photos from: http://monkeyforestubud.com/

What Do You See?

Especially when traveling, you see how other people do things differently.  One wonderful aspect of Bali is there are no homeless people.  I know that is a sweeping generalization, but I haven’t seen one person sleeping on the street!   I wish I could say the same for Maui, the U.S., many other places in the world.   Everyone has a home here mainly because they live in family compounds and take care of each other.  Much of Bali land is government owned or controlled by the villages, so those who live in a family compound can’t sell the land.  Even when they were colonized by the Dutch for 350 years, the Balinese kept control of their land, so they had their family home and family fields for shelter and food – for everyone.

In about 1930, Balinese began importing tin roofs (instead of using the grasses and having their neighbors help them thatch it – thus creating roof that would last 15-20 years – for free).  Then they started importing cars – and needing money.  Until that time, Bali could be considered one of the richest places on Earth.  Because this traditional society was controlled by the village and temple laws, there was not much difference between the richest and poorest people in a village.  Everyone got water for their family fields  (a real “trickle-down” theory in practice).  The system was so efficient that most people needed to work only four months a year to sustain themselves and their families; the rest of the year was dedicated to their art, temple, and family!

How’s that for a terrific idea that we could use?

(Source Hickman Powell’s The Last Paradise: An American’s Discovery of Bali in the 1920’s).  <https://www.amazon.com/LAST-PARADISE-AMERICANS-DISCOVERY-1920s/dp/B01LMJYTBI/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1476854387&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Last+Paradise%3A+An+American%27s+Discovery+of+Bali+in+the+1920%27s&refinements=p_72%3A1250224011>

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Balinese temple – the center of community life.  rr photo

Even now that they have to work year round, most Balinese are artists: dancers, musicians, painters, carvers, mask makers,  weavers . . . .  We could learn much from the Balinese.

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The carved door to the kitchen at Agus Ayu Cottages in Ubud! Beauty and art are everywhere here. rr photo

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Carved statues, wooden plank tables, embedded stones at Nick’s Restaurant on Jalan Bisma. rr photo

But since an outsider can often see what a local does not,  I’ve noticed since I was last here in 2014, the trend in Bali to keep caged birds.  Bali is tropical; birds are everywhere.  Just look out your window.  Farmers in the rice fields are chasing birds away from the ripe grain.  If you want more birds, you can just put out some bird seed.  On Jalan Bisma, sometimes a van of tourists come to bird watch.

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Birders on Jalan Bisma. rr photo

Why would you cage them?

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Caged birds at a tourist home stay.  rr photo

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Do you need a caged bird to entertain you while you eat a pizza? rr photo

While I’ve been here in Bali, I’ve read that although Balinese don’t eat dog meat, other people do. “Dog theft here is rampant, be it by agents of the dreaded . . . dog meat restaurants, or by thieves looking to sell a breed dog . . .  at the famous ‘pasar burung’ in Denpasar where many breed dogs are sold on. . . In desperation to retrieve their beloved stolen pet, owners offer a considerable financial reward on posters and flyers which sadly can encourage further theft (though the owner is left no choice really but to go down this route).  Even if dog meat thieves are caught, they are seldom punished with any severity – and as long as they keep getting away with it, they will keep doing it ” (Pet Care” Bali Advertiser, 12-26 Oct. 2016 p. 50).

Also while I’ve been here, I’ve seen the New York Times, “Big Food Photo Essay”:

09-big-food-ss-slide-l739-master1050

Calves  – a herd animal –  are kept from their mothers.

Product: Dairy calves
Facility: Calf Source
Location: Greenleaf, Wisc.
Capacity: Approximately 10,000 calves at any given time

Newborn females arrive from local dairies and spend their first 180 days at Calf Source — first in one of 4,896 hutches, like the ones seen here, and then in larger group pens. Trucks pass down each of 72 rows, dispensing water and milk. After a transfer to Heifer Source, another facility owned by the Milk Source company, the cows are inseminated and then returned — seven months pregnant, and just under 2 years old — to the dairies they came from.

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What’s life like for these turkeys? What about the worker?

Product: Turkeys
Facility: Gary’s Gobblers
Location: Northeastern Iowa
Output: 150,000 turkeys per year

During its busiest season, Gary’s Gobblers might have up to 60,000 turkeys living on five acres of its 160-acre facility. The worker seen here is spraying an antibacterial solution into the turkey pens to prevent disease.

Calf and turkey photos and text from:  http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/10/09/magazine/big-food-photo-essay.html?smid=fb-share&_r=0

During the Bali Vegan Festival, I attended the talk, “The Plight of the Bali Dog.”  The facts about the dogs were bad – but also hopeful with information about what organizations such as BARC are doing to meet the challenges.  What surprised me the most was what a young woman from India attending the talk said in response to my question about the Balinese Hindus offering animal sacrifices to their gods.

I know India is a complex country, the world’s most populous democracy, the land of Gandhi, and ahimsa (seeing the spark of the divine within each person).  India is a country where you are confronted with big questions about glittering wealth and abject poverty – and where the Hindu majority religion respects the lives of animals.  Indians  make up two thirds of the world’s population of vegetarians – and Indian food is healthy and delicious.

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Young woman originally from India at the Bali Vegan Festival

What the Indian woman told me was very surprising to me:

1) Today – vegetarian, respect for animal life – India is one of the biggest exporter of beef cattle in the world!!!    According to a 2015 CNN news report, “India was the world’s top beef exporter last year.  That’s because India exports large quantities of meat from water buffalo — a member of the bovine family classified as beef by the USDA. . . .  Meat now earns India more export dollars than basmati rice. . .

India’s buffalo meat — a chewier and cheaper alternative to beef — mostly ends up on plates in Asia and the Middle East, where rising wealth is spurring demand among diners for animal protein. . . .

The cow is revered in Hindu culture, the religion observed by roughly 80% of India’s 1.3 billion people, and restrictions on cattle slaughter apply in most states. . .

Still, the $4.8 billion annual export trade has almost developed by accident — the animals are needed to keep India’s huge domestic dairy industry going, said Rabobank analyst Pawan Kumar.

This is unique among countries with large bovine exports, Kumar said. It also means buffalo meat from India is cheaper. That helped the country generate record export earnings from the beef last year, although growth is moderating from the 30% annual rate seen between 2010 to 2013.

Here’s where it all goes: Vietnam is the top importer, with Malaysia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia other key markets.

Then there’s China, which may actually be the largest consumer of the meat, according to Rabobank’s Kumar. Some 40% of Indian buffalo is sent to Vietnam, before large quantities make their way across the Chinese border.

http://money.cnn.com/2015/08/05/news/economy/india-beef-exports-buffalo/

The Indian woman told me a second fact shocked me even more than the first:

2) Some Hindus offer animal sacrifice to their gods – as a gift of the best food.

According to the November 2014 Daily Mail  article, “Animals are being lined up for slaughter as Nepal embarks on a two-day religious festival where buffalo, birds and goats are sacrificed to appease a Hindu goddess.

Millions of Hindus flock to the ceremony, which is held every five years at the temple of Gadhimai, the goddess of power, in Bariyarpur, Nepal, near the Indian border. . .

In 2009, more than 250,000 animals were killed, according to animal rights organization PETA, who is campaigning to put a stop to the practice.”

The meat from the slaughtered animals is usually given to meat eaters (but how long does it take for the meat of those thousands of buffalo killed in a field to be refrigerated?).
Since 2009, activists have been working with the government to stop the sacrifices but although there were fewer animals slaughtered in 2014, the ritual still continues.
What do you see where you are?
Wherever you are in the world, there are practices that we might want to emulate.
For instance, can we ensure that everyone has shelter and food as the Balinese have done so well for hundreds of years?  Can we change our frantic pace of striving for  more and more money and more and more things to have time to develop our artistic abilities and to spend time with our family and community as the Balinese do?
And what behaviors can we help change?
Look around. Be aware.  What can you do to make the world better for others – and yourself – wherever you are?
Aloha & Salam, Renée
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