An Afternoon Walk to Collect Firewood in Pengeragoan, Bali

Kadek cooks with both a LPG stove and a wood stove, so she often needs to top up her wood pile. For this she heads to their ‘kebun’ (literally garden but it is more like the family orchard) to collect the firewood.
It is a good half hour walk to the kebun, but it is such an interesting walk, through other peoples shady kebun’s, where it is always cool, not only because of the many shady trees but also from the sea breezes from the nearby coastline. The gardens we pass through were all once upon a time rice fields. Apparently there were several years in a row when the rainfall was so poor that there wasn’t enough water to grow rice, so many of the fields were converted into fruit and vegetable gardens.

20130716-153412.jpg Once we leave the main track, we move onto a small path leading through someone’s garden. Do you recognise this tree? It is a young coconut tree. The large cylindrical structure in front of Kadek’s son, Made, is a water storage tank.
In someone else’s kebun we pass chocolate trees and they must have been harvested very recently. The yellow shells are left under the trees where they will break down like compost and fertilise the soil around the trees. Can you see the older black shells from a past harvest?

We next pass through a man’s cincau plantation.
According to Wikipedia, cincau or Mesona chinensis “is a species of plants belonging to the genus Mesona of the mint family. The species grows extensively in Asia. The plants are from 15–100 cm high with hairy stems and leaves. The leaves are tear-drop shaped and serrated. The entire plant is harvested and then boiled ….with potassium carbonate for several hours with a little starch and then cooling the liquid to a jelly-like consistency. This jelly can be cut into cubes or other forms, and then mixed with syrup to produce a drink or dessert.”

20130716-155059.jpgHere is the owner of the cincau plants creating a new structure for them to grow on. The cincau plants are vigorous climbers. The structure he is making for the cincau plants is a tall bamboo pole in the middle with many lengths of raffia tied to the topmost point and then all pulled down and tied to various points along an intersecting length of bamboo, looking like a strange maypole!

20130716-155605.jpgCincau leaves are so beautiful to touch. They are covered in soft cushiony spurs. They look flat but feel quite soft and plump.
After the cincau plantation, we came to another road and right there on the side of the road was an enormous electricity pole.

20130716-184249.jpgIt was a total eyesore, right there amongst all the beautiful orchards! However, these are found everywhere and anywhere in Indonesia, placed wherever they are needed regardless of what is nearby, be it in the middle of a rice field or in a housing estate.
We followed the track for a little bit further

20130716-200309.jpgpast flowering coffee trees

20130716-195222.jpgwith the most amazing fragrance.
Kadek’s young son, Made, lead us to another small path which again took us through more kebuns’. This path was quite muddy and slippery after all the rain they have had lately. Made slipped over so Kadek used the blade of her scythe to scrape the mud off his clothes! A very useful tool to carry with you!

We finally reached the kebun that belongs to Kadek’s husband’s family. Right in the middle of all the chocolate trees were their cows.

20130716-203051.jpgOnly one calf actually belongs to this cow! The calves get on very well together and often play together even though the mothers are tethered separately! I just love the cows of Bali. They are so placid and gentle.They look like deers.

20130716-203314.jpgThese calves were very skittish and shy, staying right away from us while Kadek shephereded the mother over to get a drink and enjoy some fresh grass while the manger was cleaned out.

Once the manger was clean, the food trough was topped up with fresh grass. After the cow was retethered inside the manger, we got out the fish food and fed the fish in the pool behind the manger.

20130716-204026.jpgThe fish are still too small to eat and there were also many tiny newly hatched fish. They were so small, they looked more like tadpoles than fish!
Kadek then began her search for firewood while Made, Putu & I mooched around having fun. I enjoyed wandering around looking at the chocolate trees and their fruit. I discovered that there are 2 varieties of chocolate and while both bear fruit which when ripe are yellow, the difference is when their fruit is young and still developing. Before the fruit ripens, one variety is a beautiful red colour while the other is green. Another interesting fact about chocolate is that the fruit only grows from the trunk or from the branches, not like the fruit I am familiar with which grows at the end of the new growth.
Kadek collected a pile of old coconut leaves for firewood. She firstly cut off their fronds so that all that was left was the middle spine of the leaf and then cut them into equal lengths. She then tied them together with an old banana leaf which was also cut back to just the spine.
Just before we left, Kadek used the scythe to open a chocolate fruit for me to both taste and photograph for my previous blog. We found a fruit that had been missed by Nenek probably because it was totally covered in ants! The white circles you can see are ant eggs that were stuck to the outside of the fruit.

20130716-205431.jpgKadek gave us each one of the seeds and it was the most delicious fruit I have ever eaten. We each sucked off the white pulp from around the seed. Made then threw his seed onto the ground but it was retrieved by Kadek who put it together with the rest of the fruit ready for Nenek when she returns for the next harvest. As much as I would have loved to have eaten more than one, Kadek recommended that we just had the one, as too many, apparently makes you feel very nauseas.
Kadek then hefted her pile of firewood onto the rolled up towel on her head and we all walked single file back along the path.

20130716-210439.jpgBy this time, young Made was tired and grumpy and asked to be carried. I couldn’t believe it when Kadek managed to squat slightly so that he could be lifted to her hip! Thankfully he only needed a short break before being happy to walk independently a little longer. I offered to piggy back him, but he only allowed me to do it once.

A beautiful way to spend an afternoon and we were so lucky it didn’t rain at all.


6 thoughts on “An Afternoon Walk to Collect Firewood in Pengeragoan, Bali

  1. Hi bu cathy, arnez and I have just finished reading yr blog. Arnez says she would love to try the chocolate seed too. I cant believe how lush it is . I remember it being quite dry out there. Me and trees enjoyed reading your blog senang sekali!

    • It used to be very dry which is why all the sawah were converted into kebun. Now the rain has returned! But who knows for how long. As with the rice, they have good years with chocolate and cloves and they also have plenty of bad years.

      • So am I!! Sitting here in Sayan Ubud in my bed with a Bali coffee and a plate of cut up papaya & REAL banana’s!
        Tell Arnez that my friends would rather eat an apple than chocolate fruit!! When I turned up with a bag of fuji apples they were all delighted!

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