Postcard from Rural Bali – From Cocktails to Compost.
Lockdown Diary with Araminta Waworuntu.
From one day to the next life changed for night owl Araminta, from shaking cocktail to turning compost. Along the way she rekindled her love for a part of Bali she rarely had time to visit in her life before Covid.
Amid the hustle and bustle of Petitenget street, my pre-Covid nights were filled with cocktails and crazy parties at El Nacional and 40 Thieves, the atmospheric speakeasies where I worked and played. The familiar characters ran wild, the cocktails were shaken beastly and the parties were lively until suddenly life as I knew it vanished without a trace when the virus hit Bali. We didn’t close without a fight, braving it out behind the marble bar every night to cater to our patrons for as long as possible. Living through the constant hand-washing and endlessly sanitising was starting to take its toll, so when the bars were forced to shut down temporarily, I took flight. Little did I know how long I would stay there and how it would change me.
In my mind I thought seeking refugee in nature seemed like a plan. I packed a few things and made the trip to upper Tabanan, in a village called Pujungan, to wait it out in our family’s airbnb villa, Ujung Dunia. It’s a peaceful wooden house surrounded by jungle at the foot of Batukaru mountain.
Whilst grieving about all there is to sadden the heart about the world’s recent changes especially the unknown abyss that has absolutely hijacked the hospitality industry and global travel, what started as a distraction for my mental health became a continuous exploration. Two months in, I learned as much as I could about gardening & had grown a decent sized mini food forest of tomatoes, kailan, eggplants, cucumbers, basil and all the herbs that were hard to find in Bali’s rural heartland. I kept thinking back to all the plants I had ignored and killed in my workaholic days. I found that in uncertain times such as this one, knowing the food on your plate is coming from your own garden is undeniably comforting. Now I know the joy of cooking from one’s own garden in addition to getting freshly baked bread and the beautiful fresh produce from Temuku Pupuan, the pioneering organic farm that has nourished this area since 1989 which is, by no small coincidence, owned by my Uncle. My father had told me stories from the time they fell in love with this side of Bali, surprisingly it has hardly changed in all these years.
The days are now filled by energising jogs through the jungle, trying all the different paths that always lead to different views, mesmerising stops and bathing at the 3 nearby waterfalls, fulfilling my life-long desire to master an air rifle, a handy skill for shooting coconuts down from the towering coconut palms. Days end watching glorious sunsets at a sacred temple on the starting point of the mountain, in the shadow of a gigantic statue of the Hindu god Shiva, who overlooks the whole north to west side of Bali. Last but not least I’ve fallen in love with the never-ending warm friendliness of the local villagers and the timeless beauty of the island we must continue to treasure.
Completely in awe of the authentic and raw sides of Bali, barely touched by modern life, this time has reminded me what Bali really is, the things that have enchanted visitors and sustained local life since the beginning of time. The rich culture and the beauty of nature makes it a sanctuary for many. All the things I never had the spare time for before have become a series of things I wish for others to experience and remember about Bali, once it’s safe for the village to allow visitors back into our humble sanctuary.
Although there is a perpetual sorrow that is impossible to shake off, I think it’s like being in a war where you have to keep moving within your space in order to survive, yet in the unknown there’s always something to learn. I hope when Covid days are over we will return to the life we had without forgetting what we’ve we’ve learned when our days were forced to be different. My island has taught me something during this time: wherever life plants you, you can bloom with grace.