We embarked on this adventure, in large part, for the kids. We wanted them to see another part of the world, rich in cultural history and enduring traditions, many of which remain to this day. Through this experience, they would gain a greater tolerance and perspective for people of differing cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds, and hopefully, return home more curious, erudite and compassionate citizens of the world.
Here are a few of the experiences they have had recently that, I’m pretty sure will contribute significantly to these objectives:
1. Last week, Allie spotted two naked men bathing and brushing their teeth in the river on our way to school. Now we look for them every time we pass. We’ve learned there are many people who use the river for, not only bathing but, many other unsavory things. Lesson learned — a more adequate infrastructure and entitlement program would help serve the needs of people here. — Bigger lesson: don’t drink the water
2. One day on our way back from school, Fletcher spotted a pair of dogs stuck in what was clearly a post-coital moment. They were facing in opposite directions yet, were still “attached” to each other and, were trying really hard to break free. Not only was this difficult to explain, it was made even more complicated by the fact that I was sitting in the front seat with our driver, Indra. I think he was equally amused and befuddled. I doubt he could understand why the kids were so interested and why I was trying so hard to distract them. I’m sure, to him, it was no big deal — most Balinese kids grow up seeing this stuff all the time. Lesson learned — a well funded, animal sterilization program would greatly improve the lives of dogs on the street. — Bigger lesson: fish make great pets
3. After dinner tonight, Allie disappeared for a while and I assumed she and Fletcher were playing with our neighbors. Somewhat later, Fletcher appeared in the door by himself, and when I asked where Allie was – he replied “She’s at a cockfight next door. How great is that?” But, I was not thinking it was great. I was thinking we need to go to the airport, right now. Thankfully, when I went to investigate, I was relieved to learn that Balinese cockfighting is much tamer than the American bloody, fight-to-the death version. It’s actually more like cock-wrestling (so, put down the phones – child protective services has better things to do). Maybe next time I will send her with some money — she does have an eye for chickens. Lesson learned — An animal welfare organization would help to educate people on cruel practices and foster greater respect for animals. –Bigger lesson – bet on the bigger rooster – he usually wins.
I’m not sure how much more culture we can take but, I’ll keep you posted.