21 - Adventures In Coprophilia (Ubud, Bali, Indonesia)
Game on for Mr. Handsome. Banished the Bail Belly. Tuned up the Phantom…again. Excuses for delay dwindled. Drank a little poop. Got pooped on. Frolicked in the rice. Performed my good deed. Lamented the state of civet civil rights.
by The Nostomanic
MY TRIP WAS BACK ON TRACK, but I was not. Still a little weak from a bout of the notorious “Bali Belly”, I dawdled a few more days. I wanted to be a hundred percent before blast off. Also, a friend (Dhemy) thought the Phantom might need a tune-up after taking a spin. Another tune-up. Why not? Third time’s a charm, right? I considered hitting every mechanic on the island before leaving. Only way to be sure.
Thankfully, I whittled it down. After wasting an afternoon waiting in vain for an appointment at a Honda dealer, I happened upon an independent operation servicing big boy bikes. The shop was Aussy-owned which allowed me to voice my concerns in English. I explained my situation (to include my mechanical incompetence), so he had his crew do a thorough inspection. I was as confident as I would ever be and had one less excuse to procrastinate.
(Insert cliché) It’s the little things, is it not? My favorite breakfast haunt was owned and operated by a Balinese woman and staffed by her two young daughters (seventeen and nineteen-years-old). They took to addressing me as Mr. Handsome. I took to smiling each time they did so. It was a nice little ego boost to go with my coffee and poached eggs. I discovered from a fellow patron (Cyrus) they did this mainly because they forgot my name. That’s what I call public relations. Excellent.
Speaking of Balinese women, they’re no slouches. I noticed many, especially those of advanced years, tend to execute a large portion of the manual labor. I came upon one woman, no younger than sixty-five, pushing a wheel barrel with five cinder blocks up a steep path. I know she would’ve made it, but I couldn’t just pass by. I offered to finish the trip. She graciously accepted. It was fucking heavy, I’m ashamed to admit. But, oh, that smile. She was ready to adopt me. I was ready to accept. The little things.
My Indo friends and I continued to swear at each other like truck drivers. Pandora was not going back in the box. Honestly, I wouldn’t have put her back if I could. Too much fargin entertainment. Dhemy liked to greet me on the phone with, "What's up my mutha fuckin’ brutha?!" to which I’d reply something along the lines of “Not much, mutha fucka!” Classy Americano. That was me.
On one of my last days in Ubud (before my first exploration), I spent an afternoon with him and Agus. They brought me to a village where thousands of egrets came to roost at dusk. We went. We saw. We frolicked. I didn’t get the egrets (photo-wise), but they got me. They pooped on me. They pooped on the Phantom. Good luck? Karma? We’ll see.
Speaking of shit, I drank some. Well, not really, but I did have two small cups of Kopi Luwak. This coffee is ground from beans that have passed through the intestines of the Asian Palm Civet. Why is this brew so shitty and delicious? Apparently, it’s the chemical and biological miracle of civet digestion. The cherries pass through unscathed, perfectly primed to dazzle your taste buds. Also, experts believe civets have discriminating palates, choosing only the finest cherries. I have to wonder, who the made this discovery? Who was the first trailblazer to grind the shit beans? I’d love to travel back for that “Eureka!” moment.
Shit wasn’t cheap. It’s the most expensive coffee on the planet. A cup will run you anywhere from $30 to $100 US dollars depending on where you are in the world. I scored two cups (8 grams) for 200,000 rupiahs ($18). Helluva bargain. Fifty grams will (or did at the time) set you back $150 at the Kopi Bali House in Sanur, Bali. And, yes, I’m aware the math is screwy. I’m sure it makes sense somehow though if I had to guess I’d say my sample was adulterated with regular coffee. Too cynical? Perhaps. Then again, keep reading.
The verdict? Well, my palate is less discriminating than the civets, so I can’t say it blew my socks off. It was nice, a bit earthy with no hint of doo-doo aftertaste. Also, damn strong. I was jittery for a while. Worth the price? Not to me, but what the hell do I know? Nothing. That’s what.
Turns out there was a spa across the street from Balimode serving coffee a la caca the whole time. I was forced to investigate. The manager produced a 200g bag. Price: $50,000 rupiahs ($4). Huh? I smelled bullshit. (Or would that be cat shit?) She said it was the realio dealio but the package clearly stated it was mixed with Arabica coffee. She insisted this wasn’t the case but it’s the only explanation for why she’d be selling 200g bags for $4. But then again, what the hell did I know? Zilch.
Sadly, I was able to meet our hero in the flesh. I say “sadly” because the spa kept one in a depressing cage on site. This is the industry norm. Small cages. Poor treatment. High mortality rate. Not surprising considering the potential for profit. The spa also had a fair number of caged birds as well. Nothing like the sight of suffering animals to compliment your spa experience. Why was the civet there? No clue. For the tourists? Maybe. I mean, it’s not like a single cat can pump out beans like a Pez dispenser. I wasn’t thrilled about snapping photos but I figured my pseudo-journalistic integrity was at stake. Also, I wanted to show the fluorescent red poo-poo piles. Nummy. I had my first and last cup of Kopi Luwak. I should’ve done the research first, I suppose. Still, I do have a conscience…allegedly. Though I try to be a paragon of moral rectitude at all times, alas, I fail. This wouldn’t be the last time. If you prick me, do I not bleed…