Indonesia 24 January: Sudaji
Running through the village of Sudaji in Bali!
We had heard about the allure of rustic and authentic Balinese village life, but it wasn't until we traveled far from the normal tourist haunts that we saw and felt the magic of traditional northern Bali.
Sudaji is on the northern slope of the volcano, facing the northern shore. There are places in the village where it feels like time has stopped and the older ways of life have been preserved.
You can feel the timelessness most in the rice fields that line the mountainside around the village.
The rice fields are carefully arranged almost to artistic perfection for water to continually flow through and nourish the rice seedlings.
A mere picture cannot fully convey the beauty of such artistic and functional stewardship. The various colors of greens are poetry to the eyes.
To compliment the visual beauty, much of Bali's tastey organic fruits and vegetables are grown on the northern slope near Sudaji. Aside from a few small machines, almost everything is done by hand and with the help of livestock, much like it has for centuries.
In the middle of the rice fields and crops, the village of Sudaji is bustling with movement and activity, but in the midst of it all is a small oasis that our friend Zanzan has created. It is a thoughtfully developed compound where he lives and invites people to stay called "Omunity."
It was at Omunity that Zanzan hosted the Peace Run festivities with his family. Before the international team of over 120 runners arrived, a sacred fire ceremony started the proceedings at the compound "Omunity."
Select school children from around the village were present, getting inspired to run the entire route.
Ir. Dewa Ketut Puspaka, MP Chief of Regent North side of Bali lit the torch from the ceremonial fire. Zanzan, the host for the event, kneels prayerfully to the side. Zanzan and his wife Putu made arrangements for all the festivities.
The torch is passed to Salil Wilson, who respectfully wears traditional Balinese dress for the occasion.
The founder of the Peace Run, Sri Chinmoy, once commented on the updlifting qualities of Bali, and how it stood first among all other nations in many respects.
Drs. Gede Suyasa, M.Pd chief of Culture and Tourism Division North side of Bali welcomed the runners and spoke about the importance of Balinese culture.
A live gamelan orchestra created a resonating Balinese atmosphere that sounds unlike any other place on earth.
Coconuts were cut down and collected from around the village of Sudaji to present to all the participants.
Zanzan's daughter Dek Tan rides the ceremonial plow behind decorated Balinese cows, which are some of the most beautiful animals.
The marching band provides jovial traditional music to welcome the international runners as the arrived on buses.
Dek Tan leads the way with her friends as the international team walks from the buses through the village to Omunity.
Also joining to hold the torch were Drs. I Gusti Ngurah Suradnyana, Chief of the Sawan District and other leaders of the village, including the chief of the village (in costume) and other leaders from the north side of Bali.
And the rain begins to really pour, and at first some tried to stay dry, but at a certain point everyone had to to surrender and enjoy the deluge of moisture.
Zanzan's mother, who stayed up all night cooking, was the perfect recipient of the torch back at Omunity. She walked it back to the gathering place for the children to light the hearth.