Nusa Penida is actually paradise, I'm going back, definitely next year. It mostly the people that make it that way, the locals are awesome and Mike, who run's the place is great. We wake up fairly early with the sound of the pigs and chickens and go over to Wayan's Warung (shop) for breakfast. Mike taught her how to make banana pancakes with palm sugar and bought her a frying pan as us westerners can't really handle spicy food for breakfast (the locals have gado-gado, beansprouts, peanut sauce, rice chunks chilli and some sort of soy/ molasses mixture). If we feel like working we do, before it gets to hot we help the men in the tree nursury, the coconut plantation or the organic vege garden. Theres composting as well and other odd jobs. The vege garden is coming on well even though everyone said they were mad for attempting it. The first tomatoes are coming on and the salad looks good. When it starts to get to hot to work we go to the beach, jump on the motorbikes and explore, sit around sleeping, and go to Wayan's for lunch. She does the best Nasi Champur on the island and her Soto Ayam is very nice as well. There is a table in the front full of snacks and sweets, mostly sugar, fat and artifical stuff. She sells a drink which consists of florescent pink juice, fluorescent pink tapioca balls, sweetened condensed milk and some fruit puree. The kids start coming home from school and walk up with their 1,000Rp notes to stock up on sugar (but they are all thin) and just generally play. If they come to the centre then they ride bikes, play cards, sing and just generally get into trouble before their English lesson with Mike. They are wonderful children, so happy and enthusiastic all the time and I really miss them, especially my friend Koman. She is 7 but still insists I carry her around like a baby and is cheeky and clever and one of the coolest kids I know. After that we just hang around and chat, people come back from various excursions, wake up from naps, shower ect. Some people drift over to Wayan's for dinner, others take the bikes to the night markets in Toyapaka or Sampalan. Evenings involve sitting around talking and sometimes drinking Arak or young cocnut wine (which is horrible).
The other day Koman's dad, Nyoman, took me out snorkeling on the reef by the beach. Just beyond the seaweed farms (this is the main economy on the island and really the only way of bringing money to it) is an amazing coral reef with all sorts of things. Its very dangerous to swim and Scuba in Nusa Penida as the currents are very strong and a few people have been lost recently. This is why you take Nyoman with you, he knows the currents, he's a strong swimmer and very experienced. He basically held my arm or my hand and did all the swimming, I just floated along and enjoyed the view. We went out again, 3 this time so he couldn't swim with me, he had to watch the whole group, and that wasn't nearly as fun. The current was so strong that day that you couldn't stop and look at anything and when we swam back in it was more like swimming furiously to stay in one place when the waves came out, then getting swept in by the incoming wave. And we didn't see as much stuff as we did the first time, like the sea serpent which he only told me after that one bite would kill me in 20 mins. He said they were shy though, and it was about 10m below us.
I also went to Nusa Lembogan, a more touristy neighboring island for the night with one of the local girls who is now my friend and we stayed at her boyfriends house. It was a traditional house with all the extended family in one complex, a real asian toilet and kitchen without a fridge. I survived!!! It was great to stay with a family as well, and see what a home is really like. We watched an Indonesian soap opera in the evening which was the funniest thing ever! It was full of damatic music, long pauses in dialogues and constant zooming in on faces. The actors portraed an array of emotions such as constipation, drunkeness, lip biting memory loss. It was like a cartoon, but with real actors and makes Hollyoaks look like the Royal Shakespeare company!
On Mondays and Thursdays the girls have traditional dance classes and their teacher is brutal, she pushes and pulls them into very contrived shapes. Its amazing to watch though when its done right! I've got a few photos of the girls, my one of Koman got deleted accidentally so I had her pose for a few but her brother got in the way. He's so cute though so we'll forgive him.
I also had two birthdays there! One of the girls bought me a birthday cake but was leaving on my birthday for a couple days so we had it Thursday night. We mostly sat around chatting and singing while Wayan (a different one) played the guitar. Friday night was much the same except I got a special treat! Mike has been collecting nice cheese, very rear in Bali and said we could have some if I bought the crackers. We went into Sampalan to get some and stopped at the nigh market to get my favorite, tofu stuffed with beansprouts and vermiccelli noodles that has been battered and deep fried. These things are amazing!!!! I'm going to miss the so so much! I go back and Mike had picked some salad from the garden, and basil! he bought some tomatoes and made a little salad to go with the cheese!! All us westerners were in heaven, this basil was so good! The locals had never tried it before, their idea of flavor is chili and more chili. If Nyoman and Wayan had their way the whole place would be a chili plantation. You could see on their faces though that they really enjoyed the basil, much more then they would admit. The only local girl there was my friend Kadek. She wouldn't drink at all, none of they women do. They don't smoke either but most men smoke and drink. Seems very old fashioned to me. It was a very good night, I had so much fun!
Kamon has been keeping me busy. The other day I went to the beach, had a shower and was just resting (we go to the bamboo shelter when we need to rest from chilling out) when she came over ans asked me to go swimming with her. I said I would, but just up to my knees and we went to her house where she got changed, and her little brother Kuntut who is about 4 came along with us. They live right on the beach and of course I started getting splashed. Koman grabbed my glasses and ran with them to her mother while I shouted hati-hati! (be careful). Then between her and Kuntut I got dragged in the ocean, fully clothed which is how the locals swim and we played in the water. It was very fun actually, but Koman really is a cheeky little monkey. We went back to the centre where I told Nyoman she was nakal (naughty) and he just laughed.
I'm really going to miss everyone, the westerners and the locals. It was so hard to leave because everyone there is so genuinely nice. Its not like Bali where they just want your money, they are just friendly people. ven in villages on the other side of the island they just want to talk to you. If you spend a bit of money with them, great, but its not like Bali where that is all they care about. I'm going home, getting a job and saving up to go back.