Weathering the Storm of the Decade in Bali

Jan 24, 2019     Indonesia     My Adventures
You can find beauty everywhere, even in the middle of a bunch of trash.
You can find beauty everywhere, even in the middle of a bunch of trash.
Nothing calm or soothing about my first week in Bali! Constant storms, crashing waves, and apparently the worst storm in 10 years! Watching what happens out at the beach has been an interesting thing to observe.

So I probably have too much time on my hands since I'm becoming fascinated by what goes on, on the beach in front of the house here.

On my first day, I took a photo of the litter-ridden beach to show my friends at home where I was staying. It's not like it's something I hadn't seen before but I knew people had this vision of me laying on some perfect tropical beach during my stint here sipping a piña colada. I felt I should set the record straight so they didn't think I was just having a fancy holiday!

I take the dog out for a walk on the beach at least once a day and I can't help but look at what kinds of things washed ashore. Hardly any plastic bags (Indonesia is in the middle of a no plastic movement), quite a few shoes, quite a few woven baskets, a large red stuffed animal, glass, and all sorts of unidentifiable things. I keep wondering if there's useful stuff in there or if anyone ever rummages through it. The dead adolescent chicken was a bit of a bummer to see but there was something about the reality of it that I liked. A bit different than our sterile Western existence!

My beach for the next 6 weeks. Not everyone's' vision of Bali.
My beach for the next 6 weeks. Not everyone's' vision of Bali.
Then (the day after nearby Mount Agung erupted which had me coughing and sneezing for days!) oh the storm that came through - the storm! It wasn't the usual tropical rain that has been coming though every evening.

A few times the lightening hit right by the house with a loud crack! The pets all huddled next to me, the dog peed on the floor and the waves crashed so loudly. I tried to relax and finally managed to get to sleep despite the very not-soothing sound of the waves crashing in front of the house.
Next morning - the waves had busted through the gate and brought sand and rubbish into the yard. Eeks, really!? That's about 10 feet from the bedroom glass doors. No wonder I had nightmares about a tidal wave crashing into the bedroom and drowning me. Yeah, I have issues, whatever.

The poor handyman/gardener had to work so hard to clear all the now-garbage-filled brush from the front of the house and move the giant stumps back into place that had been washed over by the neighbor's yard.

... what I thought was just a mess. Silly me, it's a goldmine!

Then I went out to the beach. Man, look at all the shit washed up!! Not just the usual garbage but huge clumps of bamboo, tons of wood, a dead puppy (at least the chicken had been washed away). What a mess the beach was - or what a bigger mess I should say.

Next day - wow, the locals are all over the beach cutting up and collecting the wood. They tie it into large bundles and carry it away on their heads. The gardener and his son have been at the mouth of the stream where it dumps into the beach from the mountains and have been collecting bags and bags of rocks. They rake the rocks out of the sand and fill big bags with maybe 50 pounds of rocks! I'm not even sure how they get them all home on their motorbikes. But people are out there gathering and working and making use of what I thought was just a mess. Silly me, it's a goldmine!

I even found a little treasure of my own.
I even found a little treasure of my own.

The following day it's like things shifted gears. Beach shopping was over and now it was time to clean it up. This morning bunch of school kids were out there in their uniforms picking up trash and taking it away in large bags. Of course they were doing it with their bare hands. Seriously there's no way I would touch that stuff with my hands. But hey, they were doing a good thing. As soon as they passed "my" house, their teacher or whoever blew a whistle and called them back so they wouldn't clean any further up the beach.

When I took the dog out later, it looked like all the beach to the right (where the locals lived) was pretty clean - wow, great job! Then to the left where all the rich expats live in their fancy houses - nope. I don't blame them. Why should they pick up the trash on that end when the rich expats hire people to clean their beaches for them! True - Pak. Nyoman ("my" guy) worked hard at getting my host's beach cleaned up pretty quickly.

Looking up the beach, there were huge clumps of bamboo and large piles of god knows what washed up from the storm the night before.
Looking up the beach, there were huge clumps of bamboo and large piles of god knows what washed up from the storm the night before.
Even before the storm, Nyoman worked hard getting my host's beach all tidied up.
Even before the storm, Nyoman worked hard getting my host's beach all tidied up.
Awesome! School kids out picking up litter ... with their bare hands.
Awesome! School kids out picking up litter ... with their bare hands.

The pup and I headed further down the beach (in the expat area). (I saw the duck prints going the other direction. I wonder if he walks them every day!?) One of the really big houses had 3 people working; separating out the wood, raking the garbage all into piles, burning a lot of it, taking some away. Now is when I need one of those National Geographic type super zoom lenses so I could get photos of this stuff! I'm certainly not going to be so rude as to take photos of these people working. Well, okay I did try to take a few from afar where they hopefully wouldn't see me. ;)

There was some major beach cleanup going on in front of the expat houses.
There was some major beach cleanup going on in front of the expat houses.
Then this afternoon I was talking with some neighbors who have lived here for 10 years. They said "Oh, so you were there for the storm?!" They say they get one major storm like that every year. I thought wow, I saw the storm of the year, huh? Except then they said that this year, it was the 10-year storm! Worse one in a decade. Their entire yard was full of black sand and their pool was full of sand and salt water. Geezus, I feel like it was warranted to have been a bit scared that night. I'm a survivor of Bali Storm 2019. ha ha

But anyway, as other cultures usually are, it's all been an interesting thing to witness. I'm quickly realizing the benefits to staying put for an extended period.

UPDATE: The sea calmed down for the first time in 16 days. Wow, it's a completely different feel without the constant barrage of loud waves. This also means no garbage being washed up on shore! Hmm, maybe the beach CAN get cleaned up. It's always something different every time I look out there.

Calm seas and sunshine - what a change!
Calm seas and sunshine - what a change!

4 days later there was a ton of organic debris (branches and such) floating in the current. Then this morning it looks like a trash truck drowned just outside my house. This is not the kind of garbage that would make you wonder if there's anything salvageable in it. The locals apparently feel the same way as there it all sits.

Apparently if there's a storm up in the mountains, this the effect. I know it's all minor, but you really can be entertained by the most simple things. Including the daily differences in beach litter!

After a few weeks, the litter has been slowly raked into piles and once dry enough, is set on fire. The house fills with the smell of burning beach trash and it really only burns a bit then smolders for a few days leaving smoldering piles of trash up and down the beach. Much better.

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