Coffee, Cacao, & Cloves

Munduk, the site of our third stop in Bali, is well-known for its many trekking and hiking options. And when I bring a group here, hikes are always a priority on the agenda.

Yesterday, we went on a long meandering hike through local coffee plantations, neighborhoods and rice fields. Once again, we were guided by Young Ketut, whose pharmacological knowledge astounded me.

Five of us went on the hike. Walking “sweep,” taking up the rear was Putu, a steady, warm confident presence, always ready to lend a hand over a root or down a slippery hill. We had to squeeze out of the way of the occasional scooter while we walked paved pathways, rice field terraces, and roads. Here’s some of what we saw yesterday on our hike:

This cotton plant is used by the Balinese to make yarn.
Here’s another view.
There are two types of coffee that grow in Bali. This is robusta, with its white flowers, first grown in the Amazon jungle of Brazil. The Balinese also use a couple of teaspoons of coffee when they’re dizzy and to sharpen the brain.
This is arabica, originally from the highlands of Yemen. Its leaves are much more shiny. And the beans are larger.
Ketut told us that people name the levels of bananas in a large bunch on a tree according to the naming conventions the Balinese use for their own names. Wayan are the bananas at the top, Made are the bananas at the next level. Nyoman are the third levels of the bananas and Ketut are the smallest and younger bananas.
I loved these steps we passed along our way.
This is cacao. It’s ready to pick when red. It requires drying and heat to be processed.
This is what cacao looks like when you open the hard outer shell.
This is a cacao seedling.
This tree provides the sources of palm sugar, palm liquor and arak. The priest does a ritual before gathering the sap. Offerings are made to mona brada, the spirit of the tree. The fruit is boiled to keep it from making you itchy. Then the Balinese make a drink out of it.
This is a wild pineapple.
Urmilla became the queen of flowers. Young Ketut kept putting different fragrant tropical flowers in her hatband. This is Urmilla, our “American queen.”
We walked by banana trees, cacao, durian, cloves and coconut palms. This is a close-up of a coconut palm.
This, too, is a coconut palm.
We passed flooded rice fields with garlic planted in between.
Here are some giant coconuts!
New baby rice
Flooded rice fields

This man is plowing to turn over the dirt to ready this paddy for the planting of new baby rice.

Our pathway
This was the end of our hike… Writers at work.
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