Beyond itchy...

Trip Start May 31, 2008
Trip End Jul 14, 2008

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Flag of Indonesia  , Bali,
Wednesday, June 11, 2008

My body is beyond itchy today.  This morning I wake's about 5:30 AM and I'm scratching all over the place.  I'm thinking that some savage mosquito must have snuck in under the mosquito netting and it getting its belly full.  But I'm feeling strings of welts on my skin.  Could it be bedbugs?  Or something like chiggers...or scabies?  The place we're staying in seems clean and well kept so I'd be surprised if it were any of those.  Plus I wasn't itching the night before.  I finally get up, inspect the itchy spots and notice the welts are pretty linear in places and they are popping up all over.  Then it hits me...those darn stinging jellyfish yesterday in the ocean. 
While it was happening, it felt like sharp little burns and, in some places, the sting lasted longer than others.  And especially when they got underneath my bathing suit, they got a prolonged opportunity to travel around and dig in.  Well I thought that as long as I could deal with the immediate stinging I'd be done with it after that.  But I guess my body took about 14 hours to fully react and now it's all out on fire.   All the histamines have kicked in...I look like I've got chicken pox...glad I had a mask on, at least my face isn't itchy.  And of course when you obsessively scratch in the humid tropics, your skin pretty quickly wears now I'm getting a little raw in spots.  More than anything, it's all just driving me crazy.  I took some pictures so you could all commiserate...not quite the same as being in this skin though.  I just took some Benadryl...hopefully it'll numb me out and I'll be able to sleep.  It may take two to accomplish all that. 
So today we head back to Ubud from Padangbai, the beach town responsible for both my delight and misery....I've got some connections I want to make in Ubud.  So I rent a only costs 5 dollars a day here but the driving is a bit seems you can drive anywhere you want on these things.  Did I mention that they drive on the opposite side of the road here?  And it's sort of a free for all.  You can go whichever way you want on a on sidewalks...anything.  You've just got to be very careful...and yet drive offensively....cause if you wait on the defensive you'll get cut off all over the place.  I try to stick near other motorbikes esp when I'm making a turn cause that's a very tricky proposition.  And the whole while I've got it in mind that motor vehicle accidents (esp motorbikes) are responsible for more tourist injury and death than any other one cause.  I sure can understand why.  Well, all that said, it's great to be scooting along thru the countryside of Bali.  I keep reminding myself to pay attention to the road and not to the multiply distractive displays along the way....rice fields, people doing all sorts of assorted daily tasks, artwork, animals...a rich visual distraction. 
I head out to the Green School.  It's a new international school being built as a sustainable community.  I met this guy in a restaurant and he told me about's about 14 km outside of town so I go to check it out.  It's really very impressive...I interview some folks out there that have been creating this unique environment.  It's built out of bamboo only (and there are some very enormous and creative bamboo structures out there), all food consumed will be grown on-site, there are alternative energy systems in place including a vortex generator (I had never heard of this either but it takes stream energy and creates a vortex to spin a turbine to create energy), plus a methane collector and they're planning to build a gasification plant (which is about as cutting edge as you can get and expensive!!).  The idea is to create a self-sustaining school community which will serve as a model for the rest of the world as well as to provide alternative education for ex-pats and local Indonesian kids. 
So I get a tour of the is truly incredible...although I do have some reservations about the elitism of this type of private education.  I meet the mastermind  behind the school...actually he's the funder and the driving interesting character...rather brash, either just not particularly socially graceful or feeling outside of the need for social graces.  Anyway we get in this long talk...I'm pretty candid about my concerns regarding this type of set up...and pass along some invaluable insights that I can't resist voicing, about contribution to the community and who we are really serving some thoughts about science teaching.    I find his brashness kind of amusing...he feels like a downstate New Yorker to me....he gets all enthused about my concept of teaching science totally experientially (even though it's largely a concept not supported by the NYS education system) so he offers me a job teaching science there.   Although I'm amused by this guy, I really wouldn't want to work for him...and besides there's that elitism issue.  I wonder, how many Indonesian kids are going to be benefiting from this school?  I'll have to follow the progress as it all unfolds. 
I scooter my way back to town and track down the SOS woman.  That's the Sumatran Orangutan Society - the goal of which is to save the habitat of the orangutan.  There are only two places in the world that the orangutans live, northern Sumatra and Borneo.  And because we use palm oil in a huge array of products that we not only use for personal care but consume (including Girl Scout Cookies!!), we're all contributing to the tearing down of the rainforest of the orangutan.  In the very, very near future there won't be anywhere for them to fact they're talking about having to euthanize some of those that have been rehabilitated (having been retrieved from homes, esp in China, where they are a fashionable pet).  But there's just no where for them to go.  The rainforest is torn down to grow palm trees for their oil and once the tree is no longer productive, it is cut down, the wood sold, and another area of rainforest gets cut down for the next crop.  I think there are something like 700 left in Sumatra and about 5000 in Borneo...that's more anywhere else...on the verge of extinction...creatures that have pretty much the same gene pool as humans. 
I learn a lot from Joyce the orangutan activist...she's volunteered all over the world in all sorts of programs...not just conservation.  Her passion for her work is so striking...and her desire to make a difference, to contribute in some way to sustaining our planet is tangible.  
An amazing day...and then there's the drum circle.  A pile of people from the community in the park in a big drum jam.  Plenty of instruments to share...I get there a little late...I was captivated by the story of the orangutans....but I grab a shakere and later a drum and it's a great scene...facilitators from 6 different countries and drummers from the international community  of Ubud.  I hang in till the end...still a little daylight to scooter around some of the back roads...but as it gets dusky the air becomes thick with bugs and they get in my eyes and mouth so I decide to call it a day....a full one...lots to think about...and lots of scratching to do tonight...always...

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