Hate your job? Try this…

I’m sure you work hard. The stress level is crushing. The equipment is outdated and your boss breathes down your neck. I’m sorry.

Perhaps you would like to change places with the building crew that arrives in the back of a battered pickup truck every morning, hauled down from their homes in mountain villages in the pre dawn chill. They’ve already cooked the rice and vegetables that they bring along to sustain them through the day. I try to be up before they arrive.

P1060507This time I’ve been awake for hours. I know in a general sense what is supposed to happen today. I’m eager and a little apprehensive.

Before sunup ten people gather in my garden. They’re here to pour concrete for the second level. I know the drill, breakfast first. I’ve set out ten glasses with coffee and sugar. The water kettle is boiling.

P1060511 The boss is a jovial bloke and to look at him I’d never know how quickly he’ll rally the troops and get things moving. Time is never wasted but neither is it rushed. Everyone knows his or her place and what is expected. First the tower and cable must be installed that will carry the bins of concrete to the second floor, fifteen feet above the ground.

P1060537The column goes up while my back is turned to photograph the women carrying bags of cement from the garden to the mix site in the back. It’s done by hand, or head shall we say, with smiles and waves.

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This is a specialized crew that comes complete with the mixing machine.They know exactly how much rock, sand, and water must be added to the concrete for just the right consistency. P1060525

I watch as the motor for the generator is cranked, and cranked, then cranked again. With a chug-chug and a puff of dirt-black smoke, it grumbles into service. The mixer turns and women come from both directions with tubs of rock and sand on their heads. A bag of concrete is dumped in, then water, one after another, robotic in their consistency, until the contents is ready. The man at the lever flips the bucket over into the waiting bin. Grey slush pours out and is whisked heavenward to the second floor. It’s a scene that cannot be believed. I took a short video from the terrace that tells the story much more eloquently than I can. View it in all its intensity here. It’s in real time and just as loud in reality as it sounds virtually.

After staring open-mouthed and mesmerized at the perpetual motion below, curiosity gets the best of me and I climb the makeshift ladder to check out what’s happening upstairs. It’s only a little more chilled out up here. The lumpy liquid pours out of the chute and is troweled into place by the dude in rubber boots, knee deep in the slush.

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 They’re hard at it for five hours then it’s finished. The equipment is gone. The people have vanished. Lingering diesel fumes hang in the air but otherwise there’s not a trace of the industry that hummed so efficiently around me mere moments ago. It’s almost too quiet. I feel stunned, like I’ve been pulled out of a blender just before it pulverizes me. My eardrums still vibrate.

It’s a bizarre dichotomy this Bali life. One part of this world is the glitz and glam of all that money can buy, yachts, Hummers, and private jets. The other has barely entered the Machine Age. I’m suspended between the two, well maybe not yachts and Hummers, but I definitely have a foot in the past! And I kind of like it there. I may put both feet in.

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