Candi Dasa has not changed much in the last five years. A small town split in two by a main access road with no obvious speed limit. Many of the small warungs are still there with the same table cloths and happy smiling cooks. Some of the resorts are in a state of disrepair, including Kubu Gardens where I stayed on my previous drum camp. New ones have been built and others are in the process of renovation. It is a continual cycle in this humid climate that hates concrete.
A daily early morning walk brings relief before the concentration of drum classes and allows me to see the local life in the cool of the day. Fighting cocks are on display in their little baskets, feathers dyed and colourful. Woman sweeping the road of leaves with one hand place gracefully behind the small of their back. Offerings of rice on little squares of banana leaf and flowers in little woven baskets are placed carefully in the streets and in front of small temples. Chickens scurrying about in a frantic race to feast on the offerings. Many dogs, street wise dogs, used to dodging traffic, laying on the footpath, resting, claiming their territory, begrudgingly getting up and moving out of the way to let you pass. Woman visiting the small local warung to purchase their fresh food requirements for the day. Chicken laid out on a bench, fresh vegies of all varieties. Everyone smiling and nodding, happy to begin the day.
Little children in pristine, pressed uniforms being dropped off for school on the backs of bikes. One grandad is loaded down by two on the back whilst nursing a third toddler between his arms. Again, all smiling and happy. I pass a school for older kids, young teenagers call out, “Hello miss,” I reply, “Selamat Pagi.” They giggle and burst into chatter, but are too ambarrassed to talk to me further. These kids display behaviours common to teenagers everywhere. A little bit of cocky, a little bit of shy. Some playing tag, others in groups, giggling and gossiping, casting glances around, not wanting to miss out on anything. Still children, but wanting to be older, to be cool, to be popular, to fit in.
The drumming is intense, heated, fast, furious, enjoyable, painful, frustrating, challenging, addictive. We are totally immersed. The days pass in a blur. A routine is quickly established. Everyone following their own separate, personal routine, but they pass and connect and overlap. In the same way as the rhythms connect, we connect with each other with a coffee at The Loaf, or an evening meal at the warung, a swim, a Bintang, breakfast at Dasa Wana. We sleep with the rhythms singing in our head, we tap the table at breakfast, we walk the beat, the timing in our steps. The drum has the power to bring a diverse group of people into unison. We are all beating a different drum but we are the same. This is Candi Dasa…