Trip Start Jul 05, 2008
30Trip End Aug 30, 2008
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S.E.P (somebody else's picture): http://www.flickr.com/photos/onemillion/500111911/
The next day was great. First, we went to a huge botanical garden, which was really like a park , with trees and plants from all over the world. It was made by the Dutch during the colonial period, and it was beautiful. It was way up on a volcano. I could've spent hours there.
We went to a tea plantation up in the volcanoes, and that was cool too. They have to process all the tea they pick before the end of the day, or it will start to decompose. They have big fans under the floor that blows around the leaves picked that morning so that it stays fresh. Green rain. The actual processing involves a confounding number of different, complicated drying processes. Interestingly, they've switched to burning wood instead of using gas because of the increase in prices. I learned a whole bunch of other stuff about tea, but really I liked just walking around the plantation outside, up in the volcanoes, it was very beautiful.
Parting thoughts on reality
The people in Cianjur are poor, and are completely limited by the lack of choices presented to them. There simply is too many people and no work. All day long most people are just laying around, hanging out, chatting it up. But not because they are lazy. There's nothing to do. They turn to, what seems to us, desperate measures. They walk up and down the streets carrying entire portable kitchens on their backs, and will sit down and make you a meal if you ask. They stalk roadside fruit vendors, guiding people back into the street then demanding payment for these unbidden "traffic control" duties. They stand on the side of the volcano flashing signs that say "VILLA", hoping to find some rich person interested in taking a holiday in their house. It just seems so desperate.
I went to an English school to sit in on a class for older students. One young woman said she really wanted to move to Jakarta, but couldn't do it, couldn't find work. Jakarta is only an hour away. Every morning she wakes up, cleans her house, and watches TV with her grandmother all day. She can't afford to go anywhere or do anything. The Javanese teacher responded to my ignorance by telling me that unlike Canadians, people in Java have no choices open to them. If someone put a job infront of them and said do it, they would, but there is no work and no jobs. He said, they are very very bored and often unhappy. I realized the contrast. On any given day I can go for a run (where are they going to get good shoes or an iPod?); I can go to a library (non-existent) or a bookstore; I can go to a cafe with my friends (no money for that in Java); I can go for a swim or watch a movie or go shopping. I can also make big choices; I can move to a new town or a new country or a new continent; I can go to university; I can play on a team; I can quit my job and look for a new one; I can go on vacation. I can do almost any damn thing I want with a minimal level of difficulty. If I am unhappy, I can do a million things to change it. This English student said she wanted to "be" me. There was no envy or anger in her, just this very obvious deep longing. And all these people lounging about in Cianjur (and Yogya and Bogor and everywhere), they all looked at me the same. I don't think they resent us for what we have (for what we can do), but they know it's unfair and out of their control.