Lauryn and Josh are Safe and Sound
As most of you are well aware, three powerful bomb blasts ripped through the island of Bali on October 12, 2002. The blasts were centered along the tourist strip of Kuta Beach, a popular party and surfing hangout. Another bomb exploded near the U.S. Consulate offices in the capital of Denpasar.
As of today (Oct.16), authorities are still sifting through the debris in search of bodies, trying to identify the charred remains. More than 180 have been confirmed dead, over 300 wounded, and more than 220 still missing. The majority of the victims were Australian revelers at the Sari Club, but many other nationalities suffered fatalities, too, including Balinese.
The hospital here was completely overwhelmed and many volunteers have arrived to assist with patient care, cleaning and blood donations. But, for most the peaceful image of Bali has been shattered. Thousands of tourists left the island in the following hours, and many more continue to depart.
Sadly, this will affect the Balinese deeply. Already the island is in full mourning. The gentle Balinese people can't understand why anyone would bomb their paradise. While the US, Australian, and British officials cry foul against Al- Qaeda, it means nothing to the local people. In their minds, the perpetrators are just crazy people, and certainly not Balinese.
Sources in the region believe this is the work of an extremist group based in Southeast Asia, whose purpose is not to annhilate the West, but to destabilize Indonesia to make room for an Islamist state. By hitting Bali, they have hit at the only safe haven in Indonesia, wreaking havoc with Indonesia's fragile tourist economy and toppling foreign investment. It's messy, to say the least, but there is no civil war here, yet. And as security around the island has been stepped up to the maximum degree, the chances of another attack on paradise are slim.
When the blasts occured, Joshua and I were in the peaceful village of Bangkiang Sidem, north of Ubud and more than 30 kilometers from Kuta. We only got the news the next morning when a friend arrived from Ubud town where she had seen the newspapers.
Needless to say, we were stunned and spent most of the next day getting whatever news we could from the Internet and local sources. As information became clearer, our sadness deepened. We wanted to help in anyway we could, but the best thing to do was stay put in our peaceful little village among the rice paddies.
Now, several days later, we have determined that fleeing Bali is not necessary just yet. We are safe and sound at Klub Kokos, the bungalow hotel we have called home for two weeks. We continue to do as we have been doing since we arrived: studying painting, woodcarving, dance, silvermaking and other crafts with local artisans; swimming daily; biking and hiking along the village roads and rice paddy paths, meeting and laughing with the local people.
To give in to the perpetrators of this act by leaving is not right. The Balinese people need our support right now. Last night, we joined our hosts Cathy and Krishna and the staff of Klub Kokos to prepare 200 breakfast food boxes for the patients, relatives and staff at the hospital. It was wonderful to see the unity with which we all worked, Australian, American and Balinese, to do what we could to help this island and her people recover from this tragedy.
And so we will remain here, taking careful excursions and keeping our ears and eyes open. And no matter what the bombers tried to do here, Bali is still a paradise for us and for the Balinese.
Read more GoNOMAD stories about Bali
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