There are two obstacles I've faced, one is constant and the other is temporary. The rainy season has posed a constant risk of drowning the plants and wiping them out, especially if it's the torrential kind. If it's pouring for two days straight it's inevitable that all new transplants are gone. But if they can last for one whole week the chance of its success is multiplied because the roots settle and grow significantly stronger. The temporary obstacle for new transplants is the sun. The heat straight after relocation will make them wither and dry out because the roots are still weak.
I've had an amazing learning experience on this journey, rich in lessons on gardening, hospitality, work ethic, life, and friendship. Sadly my time is up here, so I'll be leaving to Bali tomorrow and parting ways with all the lovely people I worked with and grew close with. Before writing this post I went to the gardens to say goodbye. It was really hard for me to explain to the gardeners that I'm not coming back for a while. Lukas placed his hands on his face and began to cry. I'm heartbroken. I know I've been very nice with everyone, but I didn't expect this reaction, so I gave him a big hug. Timo was next to Lukas and he began to cry as well. I gave him a long hug, and while weeping in my arms he said "Baik hati bapak" ("kindhearted sir"). Then Laiga came up to me and gave me a Sumbanese gesture, where he gently wiggled his nose on mine. I'll never forget this tear jerking moment, the hardest time in my life to say goodbye.
Every day has been a step closer to the finish line for the tomato rain roof project. I'm always optimistic that the three beds will be finished by the end of every work day for the past week. However, there's always an interesting reason coming from the staff why a certain task can't be finished, and this doesn't just pertain to the rain roof. For example, when I asked for the three men on the job to fill up the beds with soil they said they need one more person. And when I asked to help cut the branches off a tree for more sunlight, they said they need ten people. There seems to be a lack of people working in the gardens, and it's a perfect excuse to not carry out a specific job, which I find hilarious. In order to lead by example I picked up a shovel and filled a large bag with soil and carried it to the empty bed, simple. I also told everyone to watch as I climbed a tree and cut a few small branches with my new machete. As I was chopping I heard them mumbling an unfamiliar word from below, "semut". It sounds like they were calling me chubby, but I quickly learned the word as soon as I focused on that itchy feeling all over my arms and legs, which started to feel more like pinches. There were at least one hundred red ants attacking me, and the pain escalated quickly. I dropped the machete to the ground, and climbed down twice as fast as I came up, shaking myself off in agony as soon as I hit the floor. Lesson learned, you need nine people to catch you when you fall.
We ran out of special roof cover material, so that's being ordered and will take a week to arrive because its coming from Bali. At least there was enough to cover 75% of one roof for now. The tomatoes have been germinating for a week, but still need some time for their roots to grow stronger before transplanting under the rain roof.
I can't wait for this compost tumbler to start rolling! It's a sustainable project simply because we're creating another use for a busted water tank. In this case we're recycling twice, where the tank is being recycled, and so will be the organic material that's stored inside, which will decompose into natural fertilizer for the gardens. It currently needs more work, there should be a few holes for aeration, and once it's installed behind one of the gardens it will be painted black. This is because it will retain more sunlight and help speed the process of decomposing with more heat.
Every time I walk down the path of organic #1 my flip-flops collect a few inches of mud. Over the last few years the rain has washed away the rock path, so I thought it was time for a new one. We first started out by piling small rocks on the far side to create a presentable boundary line. We then gathered 100 heavy rocks and planted them halfway in the soil to prevent them from washing away. Thanks to Nanang and Timo's hard work the path looks amazing, and this garden is now one step closer for guest visits.
Below are pictures from my day off, when I went off-road exploring during the day, and later sunset horse-riding.