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Festival At Taro

If you can be here by the 17th of next month," wrote my friend Arie Smit, "you will be in time for the big Odalan at Taro."

just before the 17th I found myself back in Bali, and a visit to Arie's studio confirmed that the Odalan (or Festival) would indeed be a spectacular event. It also confirmed that Taro was a remote, untouched primitive village - approached by a remote, untouched primitive road, virtually impassable except on foot. Still, not to despair. One could go to Pujong by car, then an hour or so's walk, down a ravine, across a river and over a mountain - and you were in Taro.

With the temperature weaving through the 90's, the Odalan suddenly lost charm. Until Arie advised that Jojol, a young woodcarver from Taro, had offered to be waiting at Pujong with a bemo, to drive any of Arie's friends to Taro. Now, given an uninhibited and enthusiastic driver, a bemo can literally climb trees - so what was I waiting for

Past terraced sawahs, bisected with gurgling rivers by taxi I sped to Pujong, eager to board the bemo and test the primitive road. But while the primitive road was very much in evidence, there was no hint of a bemo - not a whisper or rumour. Nobody even wanted to know about one.

Oh, Jojol was already at Taro, he had gone out in the cool Of t1he morning.
It is at times like these that the Balinese self-help service comes into its own. From nowhere came a group of villagers to cluster around my driver and hear the problem. Hastily a boy was sent hotfooting to another village, to return some 20-minutes later astride an ancient, wheezing, rust-ridden motorbike, circa 1900. Its antique status being verified by the fact it only boasted a


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