Leaving our kid with a stranger in Bali (But it’s Putu!)

Eddie and Putu, best buds.
© Stephanie Glaser

Steph’s note: This story is more of a Travel Oops when I tell it in the United States, and I see people’s reactions. It still doesn’t seem truly like an oops to me. 

Everybody on the island of Bali treated Kurt, my kids Eddie and Kasey, and me like VIPs  — Brangelina even. Asian tourists often asked to take photos of the kids, who are blonde and blue-eyed, or even pose for pictures with them. We happily consented.

There were no strangers in Bali. We made friends with everyone we met and even flew kites with local boys at a beach in Sanur. Each driver we hired to take us sightseeing instantly became our best friend. Putu, a young, skinny man who had spiky black hair and wore a mint green button down shirt, was our favorite.

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The Friday “Travel Ahh…”

© Stephanie Glaser

As anyone who travels knows, there are missteps, mishaps and misadventures, but then there are those perfect moments when we say: “yeah, this is why I travel.” I’m choosing Fridays to be the Travel Ahh… day.

I saw these two boys fishing by the entrance to the Royal Temple of Mengwi (Pura Taman Ayun) in Bali and it made me smile. They were laughing and being boys. I could see my own son Eddie fishing with them.

Drinking poop coffee in Bali

Our kind host gives us the Kopi Luwak — gulp!
Photo © Stephanie Glaser

Coffee – to me, is a delicacy wherever I am.  I love it brewed any way, shape or form. However, I didn’t realize this standard philosophy would put to the test in Bali.

When given the opportunity to visit a family compound outside of Ubud where they grew and harvested coffee, I didn’t hesitate to go and neither did my husband Kurt.  “Awesome!” was my only thought.

After touring the grounds with our kids in tow, we were invited to a tasting — essentialy heaven. Sitting at a picnic table, you leisurely sipped the many varieties of teas and coffees offered by one of the family hosts. Near the table, a hyper mongoose paced in its cage. It seemed rather random, but there was a purpose for this creature as we would soon find out.

At this particular compound, the family offered a highly prized coffee, Kopi Luwak, which is processed in the stomach of the mongoose. The coffee beans are fed to the mongoose and while he or she is digesting them, the enzymes and acids in the stomach break down the coffee, thereby eliminating bitterness.

The catch: the only way to get the processed beans is by waiting for the mongoose to poop them out. Once that has happened, someone gets to pick the beans from the dung and remove the outer layer of the bean so it is finally ready to be roasted. Our host explained this to us and gave us a brochure to read.

Frankly, it sounded like something my son Eddie made up. Like any five-year-old, most of his revelations and stories involved poop, farts, boogers or any other gross products that shoot or drain out of an orifice.

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