Sophina - the 92 year old coffee maker

Trip Start Jun 22, 2012
Trip End Jul 17, 2012

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Flag of Indonesia  , East Java,
Monday, July 2, 2012

While I heard throughout the night the frogs and other insects, they did not keep me awake.

All our meals are catered while we are here at PPLH Seloliman and they were wonderful. Locally grown, organic and really delicious.

We each had our own individual guest house. The room key had no numbers but instead was that of an animal and on the very top of the guest house roof was the animal. Imagine finding your room at night!That plus the outdoor bathroom was really weird but neat.

We were advised to apply mosquito repellent but I didn’t see or felt any during our time here.

At 8.30 am we left with Pii, one of the local resident guides, who firstly introduced us to a variety of plants and how they could be used for their different medicinal properties.

Over 400 species have now been planted in the 4 hectare sight. I was surprised at some trees and how tall they are after only 22 years growth. When the centre opened in 1990 there was only 3 motor scooters in the village and used a taxi service. Now it seems that every house in the village has at least one if not more.

Being a NGO, many countries including New Zealand, supported the establishment of the centre. The German embassy funded the guest house that sleeps 10. Look at the unusual stairway leading upstairs.

Down the narrow roads passing fields we learnt that from kapok trees:
- leaves can be used for asthma
- flowers for honey
- timber
- young fruit can be used for fruit salad
- old fruit used for mattress filling
- seed used for fuel
- shell used for making paper.

The teak tree takes 40 years to grow. It is good for 50 years. The large leaves can be used to wrap food in. Plus the dried leaves when rubbed together gives a red dye.

Passing through the local village, one was evident that part of the villagers income was to separate the sticky glossy paper off the backing from die cut paper. Outside many of the homes were the piles of the different stage of this very much labour intensive process. The base paper / light cardboard was dried in the sun then bagged up and sold as recycled paper. I hope that it is worth it. Despite the apparent mess, all of the houses porches were spotlessly clean.

Sitting side by side were the old bamboo houses and modern brick and tile houses. This village has about 700 people.

We then met Sophina, a 92 year old lady who made us coffee 5,000 Rp. First she grounded and then sieved the coffee beans. She had so much energy and personality despite her tiny build and age. I hope that when I get to 92 I can do half what she is now doing. She is up at 3.30 am, attend the first call to prayer then makes coffee for the villagers before they head out to work. Her tiny single room earth floor hut is like the local coffee shop, a place for people to gather and gossip. The coffee beans come from a coffee plantation only 9 km away up in the highlands.

She kept on saying to us AYU = You're beautiful and then ELEK = I'm ugly. We tried to reassure her that she was beautiful.

I noticed Skyway stencilled on many of the villagers houses front doors. I thought that it was some telecommunication company but was told that it is a sandal / flip flop / thongs company paying the house owner for advertising.

Then out onto the rice terrace paddy fields. Those who have read my previous blogs know how I love to take photos of ‘patterns, textiles and colour‘. While some of the following photos appear to be the same, they are not - taken with different depth of field. I make no apologies for so many rice images. Yes, I was captivated by the whole rice growing and harvesting process including the flowing swaying motion when the ladies were planting out the rice. Even with the sun being so high, it still made for a good photographic study ... my opinion of course!

The rice takes 3 months to grow. They can harvest 3 times a year. On the road so far, I have only seen so far 1 small mechanical thrasher at work. Some mechanical ploughs were seen but most of the work is done by hand. The ladies planted while the men did the other parts of the growing process.

The micro hydro power station now has 2 generators outputting 25 Kwh. The surplus electricity is sold back to the government. At night the village and centre only needs 5 Kwh. so 20 Kwh is sold. This with the centres programmes, restaurant, villagers handicraft souvenirs, organic product: rice, vegetable and chicken means that the centre is now self sufficient. The organic rice is sold as far away as to Bali.

The slight breeze took the edge off the heat of the day. Being 320 metres above sea level helped as well.

Finally after a delicious lunch made from more locally grown organic produce, we had a short demonstration of Javanese herbal medicine.

Pii prepared a brew of clover, cardamom, lemon grass, ginger, cinnamon, black pepper and finally added some wood. Don't ask me what it was good for!

We finally left at 2.45 pm bound for Mt Bromo.

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Eve on

LOVING the shots of the rice terraces!

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