Thursday, July 2, 2015

Tip-toe through the tea leaves

Wednesday, July 1
It's Canada Day but since we spent Tuesday in Jakarta we skip today's celebrations. We'd thought of having friends in for salmon barbecue and even been offered the use of a grill by a friend. But the day flies by. Instead of a party, we pray for our homeland and the people we love.

W, Paul, and the driver try to hoist an old sofa upstairs. Laura and I pad the concrete planter over which the sofa has to be lifted with blankets. In the end, we are defeated: the arm comes off and it thumps back down. Now it sits on the porch.

A walk in the clouds, Bandung-style
Thursday means a walk (actually a hike) with new friends.

But first, a couple comes for breakfast at 7am. We prayed for P and Y soon after we arrived  and God granted their request to conceive a child - after six years of dashed hopes. Y is expecting their son this month.

I make French toast and they bring desserts in little bags: purple, green, yellow, and white concoctions that are normally used to break fast during Ramadan. The sweets are made by Y's aunt, who gets a lot of orders at the beginning of the month when Muslims ease into their feasting and fasting routines.

Our guest Laura and I meet a neighbor at the gate at 8am and walk together to the main street outside the neighborhood. A German lady picks us up in her SUV and drives us to the meet-up: seven of us and an exuberant retriever are walking the hills northwest of Bandung.

The pictures tell the story:
 We drive through the gardening capital of the area, Lembang. The planted fields are interspersed with those being readied for planting. In some enormous fields, the farmers have put perforated plastic on 6-8'X20' rows.
Hillsides of mounded earth, covered with plastic wrap
The first clue that today isn't any old "walk in the park" comes when we step out of the car. We get to the path above the parking lot by scrambling up a 15' mud wall with steps cut into it. The dog rushes up, eager to be on his way, and we follow.

The mud-ladder 
The Dutch planned to develop coffee plantations, which needs shade from the tropical sun. They stripped the natural forests from many hilltops and replaced them with pine trees. WWII intervened and the coffee was never planted. The pines grew un-thinned in forests, left to grow tall and dense. The canopies of the imported pine forests form a striking contrast to the diversity of the Indonesian jungle.

In the first valley, we have to cross the river between beautiful waterfalls. We slide our bums across a narrow log (after balancing on the 20' length of a wider tree trunk). Once we wade across the shallows of the rushing water from the "island" we've reached to the other bank, we put our shoes and socks back on.

Laura's right behind me:
Mariska's done it by herself and gives us
a hand as we step onto rock.
One after another, we cross.
It feels good to be on solid ground.
The hills are very beautiful, eucalyptus trees towering over the tea plantations.
Wells and irrigation systems left by the Dutch still work.
We clamber up a steep slope to the top of the ridge and breathtaking views.

Sundanese harvesters heap and sort tea leaves on tarps between the rows
Sitting on tea bags, overlooking the valleys
We trek down the mountain side.
(For scale, note the big black dog at the bottom of the hill.)
I bought a hydration backpack and walking sticks - and oh my! What a difference that makes. On the slippery mud, bamboo leaves, or pine needles, I dig in the tips of the pole to brake going downhill. And on steep slick climbs, I poke them into the ground so I can haul myself up.
Lewak coffee: beans pooped out by a civet cat

Yup, then we have to head up again. 
There are relics of the Dutch occupation everywhere,
including this irrigation bunker.
Several traditional platforms are built for eating or relaxing
in campgrounds along the path.
I can't imagine most of our friends doing this. It's very strenuous, one foot carefully placed before the other. Here, once you start, you have to keep going on the loop back to the car.

Then we get to eat lunch with others who can no longer walk, from 2-4pm at a local Indian restaurant. Banana leaves, finger food, and biryani. All good.

Glorious surroundings
The guys and kids have come back from their day in the city, too. W heads out alone to his men's meeting in the evening and is back by 9.

Read more:
*O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you. Psalm 63:1 ESV

*Christ says, “To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.” Revelation 21:6 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Heavenly Father, you provide the living water we need to sustain us through each day and each situation we face. Your life-giving stream restores us. Amen.

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