“Morning Has Broken” might be the right song to sing at 5.30 am on top of the hill ridge that very morning.
I woke up at 4.50 am and got ready for a morning walk (or trekking as it involves uneven surfaces) with my best friend who got me here at the farm.
I hardly ever go outside before the sunrise in Jakarta in fear of cold wind (and the virus).
And now here, I had to deal with the chilly wind to climb up the hill in the absolute darkness which would soon be dispelled by the sunlight.
Virus is no longer on my mind. It was open green space and there were only 3 of us: my friend, I myself, and Pak Usaha who runs the farm with his team and also lives at the compound.
Pak Usaha led the way. I was a virgin trekker here and I had so much to anticipate.
We got the first post and it was a small hut made of bamboo (because what else is more environmentally friendly than bamboo?).
LETTING GO OF ‘PERFECT’ SUNRISE
Sunrise is certainly an everyday phenomenon but if you’re so used to urban living so you get chained at your work desk at home or at office, watching sunrise is simply a sublime experience. Something simple that we trade for a comfortable unnatural way of living, which turns out to spark the joy in us.
Watching sunrise is different from sunset. It requires more hardwork and determination. So if you do, you feel a sense of achievement and satisfaction.
But right there I did never think of such a thing. Who cared about achievement? No one would judge my experience of watching a sunrise on a particular morning? Silly, I think.
I watched the firmament only to find some lumps of dark grey clouds moving to block my view to the east where the sun ought to rise.
The weather did not permit us to have such a ‘perfect’ experience of sunrise. But again, whose definition of ‘perfection’ here? Mine? Who do I think I am? How dare I judge and think that I deserve the control over all these external things from weather, clouds, the sun?
So I just sat down there and let go of my stubbornness to have the perfect sunrise experience that I think everyone must have.
We were brought to another post, and still we had not seen a better angle. I didn’t even wish to improve the angle. But I just wanted to take time to really and fully digest this. This seemingly small feat was actually a big one. I’m sure to see a sunrise is a license to live another day, which some people on earth may have lost on that morning. So this was a great one.
As we went down to the tea plantation, pak Usaha told us how amazing our Mother Nature is to allow us to grow tea with the best quality at this elevation in Mount Salak.
We grow tea here organically and we try to offer the best quality with the latest technology, said he. He believes technology can enhance our experience of enjoying tea, unlike the traditional methods.
Pak Usaha told us to care about our foods starting from where they are produced, not from when they are served on our plates at home. And from foods, our conversation developed and widened, even larger than our un-simple, mundane lives in Jakarta.
As an organic farmer, his life is a statement of rebellion against the conventional, modern method of growing crops. These days, when food industry tries hard to make profit over benefits for people, he and his crew stay loyal to the natural method of growing plants that we consume every day, from rice to tea.
“As humans, we’re part of nature and when we use chemical fertilizers to grow our crops, we look down on nature and thus it’s a matter of time for us to perish,” Pak Usaha spoke wisely.
This capitalistic method of feeding humans with industrialized foods is in fact caused by the rising number of world population. More humans keep appearing while resources are getting scarce and scarce. So when the last time we saw a lower pollution level during the corona lockdown around the world, a joke said that coronavirus is not the virus. Instead, humans are the actual virus to the nature! And I guess I cannot agree more on that.
Am I against natalism? Well, you can say so. But at a certain length. With all this mess our predecessors have made, we cannot just reproduce uncontrollably like rats or cats or paramecium. So please 21st century Humans, reproduce mindfully. Because you cannot now get laid and ‘wash your hands off’ the responsibility as good parents. And having a kid is not only supposed to be a mindful decision but also a mindful life plan to mitigate any risks.
Pak Usaha also tickled our common sense as he criticized the government’s policy on foods. “The idea of providing 9 cheap basic foods (sembako murah) for everyone is just silly. And this is a ‘sexy’ campaign proposition every time a politician is running for a public office.
So what’s the solution? Pak Usaha answered farmers in Indonesia must be allowed to voice their aspiration. They must be able to sell their crops fairly. HGB Agricultural trade must be done fairly just like in a fair-trade scheme. No economic oppression for farmers because they are the providers of the nation’s foods. Without farmers who can live a decent life like everyone else, it is impossible to tackle the latent and widespread poverty issue amongst farmers in Indonesia.
Pak Usaha’s protest sort of tore my heart and conscience. I grew up in a non-agricultural family so I didn’t have any faintest idea about how bleak it is to live a life as a farmer but I do agree that farming is not a dream profession for many of youths in Indonesia. Everyone wants to be doctors, policemen, officials, directors, and so on but which Indonesian children are proud to say they want to be farmers in the future? I have never heard one myself. Mostly farmers in Indonesia work as farmers because they have no choice. They just have to do it.
What I like most about the farm is the river! I planned to dip my whole body but apparently it’s July and it’s dry season, which means water is getting scarce.
So I understand fully when I went down to the river only to find the river was filled with huge rocks and wild plants. But amazingly no snakes or leeches. Very safe, I’m not kidding. All I could dip in the river was my feet and ankles.
Besides rivers, visiting ricefields under the house was more than pleasant. Once again in my life, I stepped on earth and let my skin bare under the sun. I used to be playful and adventurous as a kid but as we all know school life brought me into the house all day long and playing outside was then slowly and gradually considered a useless pastime. It wouldn’t help improve my academic prowess, they guessed.
The brief contact with nature helped me sane again after being locked up inside for many months. It healed me in some way I cannot explain.
I don’t know about you but if you asked me, I’d tell that this short getaway at the foot of Mount Salak is completely worth it. So worth the time and energy. It took only 2 hours to get there from the center of Jakarta, which is amazing!
Some say it is overpriced but hey, I thank the price because without it as a barrier, there’d be too many visitors coming. And that’ll make physical distancing a lot more challenging in the New Normal.
If you’re really interested, go take a personal car or if you want to decrease carbon emission, take a commuter line from the heart of Jakarta and as you get Bogor Station, book a personal car and it’ll get you there in 60 minutes only. (*/)
In the New Normal, people start to leave their homes and do whatever they can to stay sane by finding a place to destress and unwind.
I am no exception.
This week I was on a very very brief midweek getaway. And I can say it helped me dump all the emotional and psychological baggage I had for the entire corona lockdown at home and working from home period.
I have also seen people around me trying ways to reconnect with the nature, something they lost during the lockdown as they were staying at home like most of the time in the cities witnessing the government and all of us fail to curb coronavirus completely.
My corona getaway lasted only two days. But the effect was so great that I can still feel the impact on my soul and wellbeing days after. I was wondering how much time it takes to completely be in need of this getaway again.
I live in the megacity where all I can see from my window every day is a jungle of concrete but in my getaway I was served with an expanse of greenery and fresh air no richest urban folks can enjoy in Jakarta.
Arriving at the farm in Cijeruk around noon, I felt awestruck by things around me. All was green. All was nature. All was neatly treated and well thought.
Foods are organically grown here because it is an organic farm. My first meal was the lunch and it was a very sumptuous one. As you can see below, it was a vegan lunch. This is thanks to their question before my friend and I booked the house. They even bothered to ask if we wanted to have a vegan menu or regular omnivorous one. Then I picked the vegan menu as I want to enjoy more of its organic produce.
My lunch menu was no disappointment. Palatable and as healthy as it could be. Sliced papaya, fresh produce as side dish, fresh sambal, and fried tempeh. (Sorry the oranges were not theirs. I brought them from Jakarta.)
After lunch, it was the time to take a short walk and had a sightseeing that I badly needed to destress. We went to the main lobby which is a very quiet establishment.
Just a floor beneath, pak Usaha (a man who runs this farm) live with his small family and all the workers.
I had a short walk around the coffee plantation and soaked myself into the ocean of oxygen.
Things went awry when the power failure abruptly struck the entire farm. I never saw this coming! But our phones came in handy and soon after they with a lamp came to rescue at our house.
Cool wind blew and drizzle came down when we went out to the lawn for a bonfire.
No stars were in sight as the sky was shrouded by clouds. Which was unexpected because in July it is usually dry season. But I cannot fight against nature. She is always right! (To be continued)