The fantastical fruit pictured above is rambutan, but in Bali I was introduced to it as simply: hairy fruit; in Indonesian, the word rambut translates literally to “hair”. These beautiful, odd creatures grew in quantity at my first homestay in the Balinese village of Bresela. Digging a nail into the soft exterior and pulling out the interior reveals a fruit similar in appearance and taste to lychee: soft, gelatinous, sweet, delectable. For the three days I spent in Bresela, I ate rambutan twice daily, pulled fresh from the tree.
At this same home I got to try no less than five new types of fruit. Not just fruits that I’d never had the opportunity to try, but fruits I’d never even heard of: mangosteen, snake fruit, durian, dragon fruit. Not to mention more common items like bananas, coconuts, mangos, guava. All of which grew on a plot of land not more than an acre large.
All of this in a place where a large serving of food at a restaurant runs about $2 USD. Where you can rent an entire villa for around $20/night. Where residents barely stand a chance of leaving the island, even for a vacation, because the currency is so weak. A place that—were you not aware of the richness of culture, the soundness of spirit, the closeness of communities—might be even be called “poor”. As a westerner coming to Bali, it is easy to feel rich when you can pay $40/night for a high-end hotel 40 feet from a beautiful white sand beach.
But to those for whom Bali would be considered “poor”—and by comparison you “rich”—I would ask this: what exactly are you rich in?