Learning to fly through the Window to the World
'We are different' is the motto of the inn we're staying at in Padangbai. This deviation mainly consists of the pack of stray dogs and cats that have found shelter here and that will stare at you when you swim laps in the colorful pool and lay on the bench where you eat breakfast, stinking up the place. We love it. The boys came up with names for them within the hour and are delighted that they don't bark at us anymore, 'cause we're properly acquinted by now. To reach the beach you have to climb a hill, so the pool wins most days. There aren't many other tourists, so we're in this desirable situation again, where the boys will leave our sides for over three meter and enjoy themselves at the other hut with music or maniacally Lego building, everybody getting their own time and space. Just as we thought that we would bide our time here until we have to leave the country, something came up.
Ever since embarking on this journey, we've wanted to visit a school and craft jetpacks with the children there. To connect, to offer the message: Be brave, take a chance and have fun! To give something back. The whirlwind character of the journey and the language barriers made it so, that we didn't seek out this opportunity actively yet. In the middle of contemplating this, thinking of a way to make this work in Padangbai, I sent my colleague a message, just saying hi. Within half an hour I received a reply, tipping us this school in Kalibukbuk, out of nowhere. You know what they say: there's no such thing as coincedence and the matter was settled: we'd go to this wonderful initiative for education renewal for underpriviliged children in the north of Bali: Window to the World (www.windowtotheworldschool.com). It wasn't easy to come into contact, but we planned a fun roadtrip anyway and decided to trust the outcome. Alola Inn was fine with us leaving our large backpacks here, so we just packed some essentials.
Wednesday morning we got on our scooters, with large bags with empty plastic bottles hanging from the steering wheels, we felt very local! Leave it to my love to take the most breathtaking road, winding all the way up to Mount Batur, an active volcano next to the crater lake Danau Batur. We literally slept 'under the volcano', the lake was so peaceful, with only some fishfarming going on.
Next morning we drove on, northwards, to Lovina. There, we spent almost two hours buying rope, tape and orange fabric: sometimes you think something'll be easy to find, but it's not. After dinner we started asking around for empty waterbottles, at restaurants and guesthouses. By now, we were informed about the number of children and their age (4 - 6 years old). We wanted to make sure that every child would get a 'real' jetpack with two rocket engines. Next morning we continued this, while my love figured out the simplest way to craft the jetpacks.
Driving through the green we were pleasantly surprised by the tranquil surroundings of the Window to the World school. We received a warm welcome, with 36 children enthusiastically calling 'hello!' from their midmorning snack tables. Miss Eka showed us the large and spacious classrooms, with high windows looking out into the paddyfields. What a great learning environment! We shared in the grapes and were made to feel even more at home when the children sung the Dutch childrens song 'Jan Huigen in de ton' and much to my delight I immediately had the opportunity to explain and participate in the dance that goes along with it. With the children sitting in a circle around us, I introduced our family: father Arjan, oldest son Rui, middle son Mas and youngest son Kik and myself, Lonneke, from Belanda. I told them we travelled many Asian countries in the past eight months and that we like to pretend to travel by jetpack: a sort of rocket on your back. We like the feeling of taking a leap into the unknown.
All children received two orange pieces of fabric, which they could cut flames out of. Proudly the boys and girls got in line in front of Arjan when they finished two flames, to let them be transformed into jetpropulsions. Like a well-oiled machine miss Eka and a lovely assistant pitched in, tying two bottles together. I had the pleasure to tie the jetpacks to the backs of the children, after which they would cheerfully fly away. When everyone's jetpack was crafted it was time for the ultimate lift off: everybody simulatiously took off and soared outside. This was the greatest joy for us, to see all these beautiful, delighted faces beam while running, jumping and feeling like superheroes. After enough rounds of flying in front of a backdrop of lush palmtrees, we were treated to a wonderful traditional Balinese dance by the girls and more dance performances by the children. We wrapped up the morning by singing more songs, never before have we heard belting with such gusto!
We're grateful to have been the guests of these children and very impressed with this outstanding vision towards education! With such a good start, these kids can face their future with confidence and hopefully have the courage to fly higher than they maybe expected.
With our hearts fullfilled, we reclined on the black sand of Lovina beach, watching an elaborate full moon ceremony, swallows gliding through the golden sky, the sun turning it orange, then red, before calling it a day.