Living with intent, social engagement, learning, growing, giving
Lombok is a beautiful island and perfect for relaxing. Even during the wet season it’s a lovely place to be with children, especially when staying at a resort with a good pool area. My poor husband is still sick and my 6 year old daughter is over stimulated so today I ventured off with my 4 year old son through a tempest of heavy rain. We took a metered taxi because we couldn’t find a private driver and negotiated in advance that the meter would be switched off when we were out of the car.
We drove through rough, marginal country with impoverished villagers trying to eke a subsistence living from the barely arable land. The best land is on the narrow floodplains but the majority is poor quality. I smiled to see a young man walking through mud in a tiny village of grass/bamboo huts dressed only in a traditional sarong while talking on a mobile phone. We saw farmers ploughing with bullocks and by hand, farmers knee deep in mud tending their rice, stall holders resting, and all of it in torrential driving rain. Rivers swirled in a brown dangerous rush to reach the ocean, sweeping weeks/months/years of rubbish, soil and volcanic ash in its path. The sea was an angry brown with crashing surf on what would normally be a postcard worthy stretch of coast. The sea is so rough that the daily fast boat ferries that link Bali, Lombok and the Gili’s have been cancelled.
Our driver was very friendly and solicitous, standing in the rain to always open my door, helping my son in and out of the car, checking if my son was sleeping, asking permission to pull off the road to answer a call from his boss, singing along to the song that my son made up etc and we tried to converse. My 30 something words of Bahasa Indonesian are pivotal and allow me to undertake daily transactions while travelling but do not allow conversation and similarly for his English. Nevertheless he bravely attempted to tell me about the 2 ethic groups of Lombok, suggested locations to visit, and pointed out features he realised would interest me. He even stopped in Bangsal to buy me a Lombok speciality of ikan sate from a stall. It was tasty and zingy but nothing like the sate of Java.
As we neared Mount Rinjani I realised that through the misty cloud and driving rain the scenery became almost unbearably beautiful. It’s no wonder that Senaru is highly rated as a place to visit with it’s terraced fields of rice, fringed by banana palms and orchards of fruit and nut trees. On the way back down the mountain it stopped raining and I practically leaped from the car to take some photos in a field with two old villagers. I would have loved to photograph them but it seemed too disrespectful and I couldn’t remember how to ask.
The rain worsened as we neared the trail head for Sindang Gile Waterfall and I recalled a similar situation last December in Colombia when I had been driven for 3 hours to get to a mountain lake but I piked out of climbing to the lake in the rain because I was flying home that night and didn’t have a change of shoes or clothes (see my post under Travel). I looked at my son who was chatting away constantly and considered his short legs and wondered if cancelling the walk was the wisest option but decided to go ahead.
We donned our raincoats and our driver walked us to the ticket booth and helped to deter the guides from latching onto us, handed us the umbrella and must have gotten drenched walking back to the car. The beginning of the trail was a torrent of fast moving muddy water so I rolled up my trousers, lifted my son, and juggled the umbrella to keep us and my backpack as dry as possible while trying to keep sure footing. I wondered just how foolish I was for taking this risk but persevered out of pride and curiosity. Fortunately we reached the bottom of that first slope and found that the rest of the path had much less water on it. One section is covered by debris from a recent landslide. Two western couples with guides overtook us and that made me feel more assured that we were going to be ok!
The waterfall is gorgeous and would be wonderful to behold under dry and calm conditions. As it was I had great difficulty balancing the umbrella and keeping my phone dry to take these photos. After a while we made the much easier climb back to the car through light rain. The driver encouraged us to dine at the restaurant and although I was fasting (I practice daily intermittent fasting) I took my son in there while the driver went to the mushollah to pray. We had a couple of conversations while my son took an interminably long time to eat his cheese toast, one with a friendly Singaporean man and another with a young man from Senaru who couldn’t believe that Bahasa Indonesian is taught in Australia. I suspect that most tourists who go there have not learnt any Bahasa Indonesian.