Mapping Bali 33 : Turning to the Sea

Culture | Written By, Bruce Granquist |
Tejakula Beach

Tejakula Beach

Turning to the Sea

Another strategy to survive this arid environment is to turn away from the hills and look to the sea. Generally speaking the Balinese don’t like the ocean, but know when to put it to good use. When the scarce rains fall in the arid regions, the people turn to the land to grow peanuts, fruit, and vegetables. But when it dries up they turn to the sea.

The Balinese react instinctively with fear to the ocean, they might never see beauty in the mysteries of the deep water. Even so they have a long relationship with the waters that surround them. Their boats are very fish-like, something like half fish, half boat. The bow is in the shape of a fish with open mouth and bulging eyes. When the fishermen go out at night their lamps are seen as dots of light in the darkness, floating resolutely on the surface of the black ocean.

Life on the Beach

Houses with tin roofs are scattered around, grape vines hung over trellises offer some shade, a huge tree marks the village centre. A quiet warung and a darkened room of men drinking and listening to  someone singing about heroic deeds in an archaic language. Nets on the beach are hanging to dry, the cock fight arena has been swept clean, rows of fishing boats in various states of disrepair.

The midday beach is only populated by a group of noisy boys and salt makers tending their vats of sea water. Under the blazing sun, the water quickly evaporates and leaves glistening salt crystals behind. A light breeze blows steadily. A local man climbs a coconut tree to harvest some of the fruit. He chops them off with a machete, and proudly shows the scar on his hand from his latest machete accident. He is short and built like a boxer, his wife is stout and robust. She gets some cucumbers from the garden and 4 smoked flying fish from the neighbour. It all adds up to a fine meal to watch the colors of the ocean, metallic shades of blue, green, and silver, the setting sun adds unlikely tones of yellow and orange.

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Bruce Granquist

Awarta Nusa Dua
Royal Purnama

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