Why hello there Kind Reader (how Miss Manners of me),
On my recent journey to Southeast Asia, I spent a few days wandering around the island of Lombok, mostly in the tiny town of Kuta. No, not the Hard Rock Cafe/Tijuana night club/Mecca for Drunken Aussies Kuta (that’s Bali). But Kuta Lombok: a quiet, mini-village nestled on the coast of the Indian Ocean.
The beach beauty defines language, but I’ll give it a shot. Powdery white sand meets cobalt waters…really, it’s almost stupid to try and describe it. The feeling of serenity and quiet that came over me was surprising–almost jarring. I became hyper-aware: my eyes couldn’t process what they were seeing fast enough to tell my brain what to think. I sat, quite dumbstruck, looking at this vast, pure expanse of exquisite nature and thinking: wahhhh? What is this? Where am I? It’s quiet, lovely, relaxing, and aside from a handful of other foreign gawkers, undiscovered.
The rest of Kuta? Not much is going on, really. My partner, Martin* and I hopped on a scooter and promptly got lost, meandering the hillsides where we found tiny villages, little enclaves of community living in the same way they have for centuries. Most are weavers, some are farmers, and some have little boys who, upon seeing a Western female, will promptly whip out their baby manhood and display it in all its tiny glory, straight up in the middle of the dirt road. Martin laughed and scolded the proto-deviant, which of course, the little perv couldn’t understand. I was somewhere between shocked, amused, and mildly flattered. I mean… what do you say? “Thanks Little Perv, for the creepy-bizarro greeting. Just gonna go over here now, and gouge my eyes out with a Durian.” But I digress.
My smelly, tasty weapon of choice.
Back in the village– well it’s technically a village but really just one dirt road with a few shops and hotels– I noticed a faded blue building with lots of Muslim girls and boys shuffling about out front. The sign was in Indonesian but I was sure it had to be a school. After a couple of hours I decided to walk by and sure enough, in traditional Indo-friendly fashion, I got my in.
“Hello!” It was a local man, possibly in his late twenties, sitting in the school courtyard with a few head-scarved female students.
“Hello!” I shouted back. “Is this a school?”
“Yes, please come talk to us.” So I did. Turned out he was the Math teacher, who spoke decent English. After a bit of chatting, well… I couldn’t help myself.
“Would it be alright if I came tomorrow and sat with the English class?” The girls mumbled to each other. Only one girl spoke enough English to understand my question.
His face beamed. “Yes of course! Please come and talk with the students! Yes yes yes!”
I was thrilled. So the next day I stopped by, and Martin, being bored, came along with his Iphone. The video is brief but you get the idea. Later (not shown) even the Math teacher sat in as student!
Sigh. I’ve been so fortunate to make a life with words. Writing, marketing, heck– I’ll even throw in acting. But nothing, nothing comes close to the feeling I get when I teach kids who are this excited to learn. Sort of like Kuta Beach: indescribable, beyond a physical beauty ever thought possible, effortless as air, filling me in a way nothing else ever could.
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* Thanks for the clips, Martin. (He still insists on Martin. One day I’ll get him to come out…)