A girl who hates crowds moves to Southeast Asia

At 12:15 pm on the Monday before I leave I’m feeling nervous.  I’m pacing my room with bottles of Diaresq and Malarone in my hands and thinking about my chances of catching malaria or a parasite from the tap water.  I’m remembering what it’s like to brush your teeth with bottled water and trying to do mental math to calculate how many plastic bottles I will have to waste over 6 months in Indonesia and don’t forget the month of travel afterwards when I can’t buy the big bottles and what am I going to do for water when I’m trekking Mount Rinjani and how hard is riding a moterscooter really and will the bruise on my leg heal before I wear a bathing suit and, my god, 65% humidity is high and I’ve been told lizards sneak into the showers and what if I forget how to say I’m vegetarian?

My purple 65L backpack has stood upright in the corner of my bedroom for at least a week now.  I’ve packed and unpacked and repacked at least 6 times and my web history is littered with blogs about dressing conservatively in Muslim Java and YouTube videos of young travelers in Bali.  My Lonely Planet books are on my dresser, the pages propped open to the sections on Sanur and East Bali.  My phone plays a podcast of how to learn Bahasa Indonesia.  The jeans and boots I’ve eliminated from my luggage are thrown on my floor and 3 half-empty bottles of sunscreen wait to be combined on my dresser.  The afternoon light of winter is weak and white and I’m bundled in sweats thinking about how in 4 days I will be unable to make a good first impression at my job because I’ll be sweating so much.

I leave on Thursday to begin a 6 month position at East Bali Cashews, a social enterprise based out of Desa Ban, Bali, Indonesia.  The company produces high end cashew-based products (like these amazing nuts you can buy on Amazon) and creates sustainable jobs in a chronically poor and arid region of Bali.  The factory based in Ban processes cashews grown locally, reducing the carbon footprint of the product, while supporting economic opportunity for locals, educational development and environmental initiatives.  I will not be picking cashews or sorting cashews or roasting cashews but I will definitely be eating them and you should too!

East Bali Immersion is a new nonprofit wing of East Bali Cashews, bringing service learning groups to our eco-lodge at the base of two volcanoes where they will learn about the company and its social mission through hands-on immersion.  Groups will also enjoy cultural experiences, ecotourism activities and service in a completely different Bali than most tourists see. The profits from the programs are used to empower local communities through economic development and are reinvested into the social mission of the organization.  I will be working at East Bali Immersion as a program and outreach coordinator.  Don’t ask me what that means exactly yet, but I’ll let you know 🙂

I will be splitting my time between Sanur in the south and the new eco-lodge and factory in Desa Ban in the northeast of the island.  Despite my totally unwarranted panic attacks, Bali will be a completely enjoyable and safe place to live with little to no risk of malaria and an amazing vegetarian cuisine.  I will be living with extremely friendly people, most of whom will speak English due to the high volume of Australians that visit Bali and I will see more beautiful things than I deserve to see at 21 years old.

I have nothing but gratitude for this adventure!

This too-long-inactive blog will host the occasional update on my life, surroundings, travels and friends.  I will by trying to start my ethnographic research on ecotourism for my senior capstone as well so don’t be alarmed if the posts sound over-analytical (we anthropologists love to over-analyze things).

Much love and thanks to those who have helped me on my path, shared words of encouragement and tales of warning, reminded me of gratitude and empathy and raised me to care that the planet and people come first.

xx M

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Absolutely everything I’ll own for the next 8 months!

 

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