The pilot announced “we’re about to land in the beautiful island of Bali…” and my mind runs to the priming paradigm that the resort island has managed to spread internationally.
Let the tourists think they are coming to paradise and they will think so. That’s how priming works right? Put in the mind of people a prefabricated definition of what they are about to live and they will describe the experience using exactly those words.
Fact is that, behind the beauty of flowers and infinite pools postcard image, that this island manage to spread, there are few enormous problems still without a will to be resolved.
The island still lack a serious sewage system, I am not talking about rocket science, Romans built sewage all over the mediterranean some 2000 years ago.
Hygiene is still optional, so food is of very often cooked without proper washing and using the tab water which is very dirty, as in forget about brushing your teeth with it… oh hum… Bali belly, you’re not used the the local food and you spent the night on the toilet… right!
Ok, let do away with that… and get the the most subtle, un avoidable of all the shocks one has to put up with when staying here, the burning of trash.
If you think you can avoid it, think again. The phenomena, despite being illegal, is so wide spread that no areas are safe, not even the most high-end places like Kesiman, Canggu or the Bukit. It will hit you in the night time, at dusk or before dawn. You will have hard time to determine were it comes from due to the darkness… Grab a water bucket and go extinguish the fire? Forget it! You will suffocate silently wondering were can you go to avoid this cancer.
I had always thought that’s just the poor people who clean their yard this way, but I had to change my mind. I spoke recently with a rich kid from an high status family in Sanur, as I had discovered that in the back of their land they have a trash dump with evident signs of their trash burning habit.
I was asking why they don’t simply pay for the trash collecting service that is very, very cheap, and got answered, very politely and naively, that it is traditional to burn the rubbish. I still don’t get it, if they like traditions why the use motorbikes, phones and the such?
Maybe is just a “Bule” lack of understanding, a Westerner fixation on critical thinking but when the beautiful sun light is gone, ignorance settle in. Failing to care about the basic health principles will kill us all. It’s an other tragedy of the commons going on un-reported in a place that has many precious characteristics rapidly disappearing.
Btw, the tragedy of the commons is a term used in social science to describe a situation in a shared-resource system where individual users acting independently according to their own self-interest behave contrary to the common good of all users by depleting or spoiling that resource through their collective action.