The greatest aspect about being sick is the high energy that ensues after full recovery has been achieved. As they say, after a storm comes a calm. I could not feel differently. By Wednesday morning, I was still feeling a bit weary – and the four-hour drive from Kuta to Blimbingsari certainly did not contribute. Curve after curve, an upset stomach and remaining signs of fever kept liquids right at the borderline between mouth and throat, yet I could feel the energy being restored.
That same afternoon, three interviews had already been scheduled; the only option was to close my eyes and mentally prepare for the ride ahead. Right upon arrival, I was introduced to local staff (most of them were home due to illnesses) and minutes later, the local guide/translator drove me to one of their client’s home. Once again, the interviews were focused on the clients, and the benefits achieved through loans. After three days of filming, cocoa and rice farmers, brown sugar producers, wood carvers, cow breeders, fishermen and handcrafters: real Balinese people who were willing to share their positive experiences.
All these interviews were filmed within their houses – usually in the outside patio. Their corresponding occupations were also carried in close proximity; hence, a combination of activities and dialogue offered a consistent understanding of their routines. Even though language barriers created some divides, Indonesians are the friendliest and happiest people I have ever encountered; thus, creating a comfortable and sincere connection. Rare are the moments in which you won’t find an Indonesian smiling or laughing. Despite the fact that I could not understand their words, I could grasp the overall feeling; and positivity spoke louder than any other statements.
Entire families would usually gather during the interviews, further attracting curious eyes and warm handshakes. Lighting and sound preoccupations made the filming process longer, but after the interviews, coffee and biscuits were usually served as a sign of reverence. The family would then gather and friendly conversations would result; and so we stayed longer and talked about trivial subjects. Indonesians – either Balinese, Javanese or Sumatran – made me feel comfortable with my work, and day after day, the energy was restored.
These families were located kilometers apart, and since scooters are the preferred method of transportation in Bali, we would drive from location to location – sometimes hours away. From the back of the scooter, while holding on tight to the equipment, rice fields, coconut trees, water streams and Balinese houses would flash before the eyes and add the golden touch to a rather colorful environment. On our final filming day, a visit to another branch (and clients) was scheduled. By early afternoon, as we drove back to the main office, rain started poring down. The driver fortunately had a one-person raincoat, which he made good use. Legitimately concerned with the equipment, I tucked the camera bag under his waterproof coat, leaving me completely exposed to the rain. Twenty long and wet minutes, but it was indeed a refreshing part of the process.
Back at the guesthouse, the pastor and his wife told me they also owned a small hotel in Legian, located next to Kuta. I ended up staying there for the remaining period. By the time I headed back to the touristic area of Bali, I still had one week left. Thoughts about extending my stay started to cross my mind, but responsibilities kept me grounded. From Monday until Thursday, I routinely drove to Dinari’s office early in the morning and worked until late afternoon. There still were interviews left, and the entire footage had to be transferred.
During this period, I got close to some of the staff members; and by the time we had to say goodbyes, we realized how fast time had passed. Instead of the usual fifteen days, I stayed in Bali for over twenty, and during all this time I barely had any time to explore the island. Nonetheless, I still had two days left on the island: Friday and Saturday were used to enjoy Bali from a pure touristic perspective. And even though the island has much to offer, I preferred to stay within Kuta and surroundings, hanging out with newly made friends and enjoying the Balinese way of life – including a much-anticipated proper surf session.
By Sunday, I had serious doubts whether I should move on to Singapore or stay in Bali and film a second documentary. But that morning, after beautiful days of sunshine, dark clouds and rain filled the grey skies – that was my cue. After all, after a storm, indeed comes a calm.