Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas-We're celebrities!

I knew the family would have no way to be prepared for Kuta or Legian. We went down to the entrance to Kuta Beach just to explore and get initiated to the juxtaposition of a 3rd world country's lack of infrastructure vs. tropical, seaside beauty; lots of money carrying tourists meeting 2.5 million people's poverty etc. Hailey, being the fish out of water that she is, immediately headed for the water. As soon as she exposed herself to being alone, it was as if the paparazzi was turned loose. Guys and girls her age were running to her to get photographed with her. Hailey has had the experience in China, but this was much more agressive and demanding, wanting various single shots etc. She basically had to run away in order to escape. I was out it the water photographing the scene, laughing, until I got back up to where Anne was sitting up on the beach. She and I spent the next 4 or 5 minutes doing the same thing with all the kids on dry land. Again, I took pictures of them taking our pictures. Pretty funny scene watching the tall white people playing the role of minority oddity.

It was sad, but the biggest spectacle was the insane amount of trash on the beach and in the water. Joey and Hailey went out to play in the surf and said that they were walking on plastic bags and getting wrapped up in garbage while riding the waves. As you can see, the most public part of the beach is where the kids play, and they're inundated with trash. We quickly discovered that the further away from that beach we got, the cleaner the beaches became. The next morning, we took a long walk on a beautiful beach just five minutes from there. You would think that any kind of effort to clean it up just wouldn't take that long! That is where you see a huge difference in the attitude and priorities of a developing country. They just simply have too many other things on their minds, like their next meal. Cabs are $.50, t-shirts $3-5, all meals $3-7. The density of this small island's population is overwhelming economically. There is a 10% tax on everything, but change takes time.

Some things haven't changed much. We took a walk down the beach to see some of the beauty, got a bit tired, and as sunset was approaching we decided to sit down at the imaginary line at the top of the beach and buy a drink from one of the innumerable local hosts/hostesses. They plopped down some plastic chairs and propped our feet up on a few beer/Coke crates to better enjoy the view. This is the moment when all local sales radar perks up zeros in on the new targets. As you can see, Hailey ended up with a fun "tatoo", as did Joey, and Anne bargained beautifully with number 15 for a 15 minute massage for $1.50. Plus, she was thanked with a warm kiss afterward! Joey was approached by a very nice, mild mannered, experienced seller of necklaces. She was very persistent, but Joey's had lots of experience in Shanghai, so I encouraged her to stick with it. Joey finally relented by purchasing one for $1, just to get rid of her! Wise move! Sometimes you've just got to know when to fold 'em and cut your losses Ü We had many other opportunities to buy ivory carvings, wood carvings, rings, bracelets, cigarettes, kites, Viagra, Cialis, bows and arrows, blow guns, and the list goes on. It wasn't until later at night on the streets when drugs were offered. Joey and Hailey have had their eyes opened like never before, under the close supervision of their parents! What an amazing first couple of days. I think we're headed to the water park tomorrow. The kids don't really care whether it's going to be sunny or not, just as long as it stays hot. No worries there-86-89 every day for the next couple of weeks!

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