Poverty (and Happiness?) in the Villages of Lombok

We hired a driver to see a country life in Lombok. Actually, I thought it will be a walking tour in rice fields, but it ended up with a lot of thoughts about poverty, happiness, and empathy.

We went to a village called Telebatu – it’s a small village in the middle of Lombok which was built to be a calm spot for tourists. Actually, tourists do not come here often so villagers have to live their daily life in rice and spice fields.

Local villager was our “guide”. It was quite funny, he took us to his garden and fields and showed us everything: “this is pepper, this is lemongrass, this is tomato, this is clove, this is clover, this is rice, this is coffee, this is lemon…”, “Stop here and I’ll take a picture of you; now stop here and take a picture; take a picture here…”, “This is my 4-month-old son, do you want to keep him in your arms? No? Take him.” And I find myself holding his son:))
So our tour guide was a really simple guy who knows English words of everything you can find in his garden:)

Actually, the tour was nice and we were able to buy some stuff from them, e.g., I hadn’t seen or eaten cacao beans before, but I could try it here. After this tour we gave him some tips and he hid the money in his pocket. It looked like he didn’t want his neighbors to see that we gave him money:)

Later we visited a village of weavers. I thought it will be just another tourist trap with a couple of weavers who only weave when tourists are nearby, but I was wrong. It was quite a big village with no land – just bare walls and super small houses. So you have no choice but to weave. They have a joint shop and a couple of contacts in Bali to export their fabrics. However, it seemed that business wasn’t successful, because you could smell poverty in their village.

Our driver told us about Indonesia and corruption in their Governance. Even though it’s a democratic country, they are not happy about highly corrupted officials. You can be employed in a public agency only if your family member works there. Similar to my country, huh? Actually, you could feel that Indonesians face the same problems as we do, it’s just we earn more money (and spend them because of bigger prices). The biggest difference is that they can’t travel because of poverty even though they want it. I felt that it’s very difficult for them to fulfill their dreams because of a lack of tourism, export, land, and education. Most of them go to schools and learn English, but they do not have money to buy computers and they do not have enough knowledge to understand how to make business (it’s sometimes almost impossible to do business if you only have 3×4 meters house and nothing more).

Anyway, there is a bright side too. These guys have sun and the sea – and this is something that we’re seeking here in rainy Europe. We spend our days in full-time jobs to pay for a living and dream about hammock by the sea. Poverty (and happiness) is everywhere.

P.S. photos will be published in a couple of weeks.

Photo by Asep Supriadi on Unsplash

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