Posted by: Carolyn ODonnell | July 6, 2013

Indonesia: Sleeping and not scratching on Bali

Nakal sekali monkeys on the streets of Buduk

Nakal sekali monkeys on the streets of Buduk

Maybe the nomadic life is catching up with me and not in a good way, as I feel eternally sleep deprived. Part of it is due to constantly waking up to scratch. After years of co-existing relatively happily with tropical heat, as long as  a fan was part of the deal, I am now scaley, itchy and cranky. Plus I don’t feel good for other reasons, not helped by permanent, foggy fatigue.

I felt very bad for quite a while, but hopefully that is now behind me. Although I think I tore a muscle in my shoulder lifting my bag.

Bali: Hotel gardens are fabulous

Bali: Hotel gardens are fabulous

Anyway, a friend with a school on the outskirts of Denpasar, capital of Bali, needed help so I flew over there, where it was miraculously cooler and the itching and scratching began to diminish. Of course now I had headaches most of the time because the kids were so loud, but at least I was awake enough to hear them.

Every time I went into this school someone was ill. With no teaching experience to speak of I found myself solely in charge of 12 children, spanning bewildered six-year-old, through to very bright six-year-old and onto very bright seven-year-old. A vast range of abilities in a small class. Trying to keep all of them engaged at once was rather challenging. The ceiling fan wasn’t working and we were all too hot, but somehow I managed to teach them something every now and then. And improve their English, which was the main reason I was there. I never had any desire to be a teacher, and while I liked the kids when they weren’t shouting, I still have no desire to be a teacher.

In between, I did some writing and wandered the streets of Buduk, an obscure village where tourists do not venture. I was staying at the home of the friend – who was in Crete – who owned the school. Three years previously I had stayed there, when she was commencing renovations; at least putting in a Western-style bathroom and enclosing the top floor to make a large living area. The project is still not finished.

There was supposed to be hot water in the newly finished shower and every day Agus the handyman came over to tinker with things, uncross them, cross them, I never really understood what he was talking about. Deaf for most of his life, I don’t think his Indonesian was in great shape, let alone his English.

All I knew was that steaming hot water could randomly materialize for up to five minutes, then vanish. Usually this happened when I was trying to clean a mug in the kitchen, or wash my hands at the basin, so I would burn myself, curse a little and then of course be chilled thoroughly trying to shampoo my hair in completely cold water.

The next day Agus would come over, fiddle a bit more, get all excited that everything was all fixed, tell me things I didn’t understand and later on I’d have another scalded hand trying to rinse a carrot. The kitchen only had one tap and I was never sure what was going to come out of it.

None of that stopped me sleeping at least. And I got some work done. Tried to figure out why my shoulder hurt so much. Then it was off to Ubud.

However I also managed to learn something useful: nakal sakali means very naughty in Balinese.

Stylish statues: Everyone wears flowers in Bali

Stylish statues: Everyone wears flowers in Bali

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