The People of Paradise

Underneath that fresh green coconut is Koko. Now as with most of the underemployed persons on Bali he too is working hard to establish a tourist support company. With every rice field a potential villa, hostel or hotel the tourist industry is growing at unprecedented rates and vacancies in residences and food establishments are everywhere. Taxi drivers complain about a shortage of fares. The obsession with the development of a tourist industry has eroded some of the island charm. In small villages and off the routes of the Tourist Guided Buses there is beauty, serenity and a spiritual nature that is reminiscent of a time past.

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From their perch the tourists turn their back to the camera and hope to get a day of exploring started. In the ravine below a jungle forest steams as the morning sun vaporizes the thundershowers. Margaret and Koko share the skin of a roasted Pig. The difference in their smiles is that Koko savoured every crackling morsel and Margeret smiled for the camera. Now that in itself may tell you something about Bali. The local people are gentle and kind and very willing to share their food and culture. One evening under a tree an elderly couple was barbecuing satay pork. We ate skewers of pork and sticky rice. A meal prepared in paradise.

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No matter how you look at it, this is a special place. Behind those waving quilts (assembled from scraps of batik and yard goods) the fields of young rice plants speak of past and present. There on the bench in the mall Margaret rests, We found a place of worship, yet the most sacred place might be at the tide-line at sunrise. The trouble with pictures is that you can’t see the tons of plastic washed ashore each day nor the thousands spent on trinkets in malls.

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The stretching tourist surfing class is every bit a part of life on the island. The majority of the people here at anytime are visitors. Each seeking sun and surf for their own reasons. The visitors, the locals, the tour guides and the retired settlers creating a community that struggles to maintain traditional values and build opportunity.

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