I swear that I have bruised my butt, though I see no signs of bruising (yes, I checked). It hurts to move, to sit on cushioned chairs, and to climb stairs.
It’s my own fault. I found a bike tour that said it started its journey in a coffee plantation where you can sample a variety of coffee. Sign. Me. Up. It wasn’t until after I signed up that I realized I hadn’t been on a bike since high school. Surely, that can’t be right, but I can’t recall a time since then.
The morning started simple enough – the bike company’s van picked us up. There was an Australian couple, who ended up being loads of fun, and the tour guide, an energetic, always smiling, young Balinese man. We headed to a spot overlooking a volcano. It was cloudy so the view was not as good as it would have been without the clouds, but you could still clearly see where the lava fell when the volcano last erupted in the 60s. It was a patchwork of forested green areas with black strips of land jutting between.
We started the morning sampling fried bananas and then proceeded to the coffee part of the trip. It was a family home and business. They had chili plants, mandarin trees, coffee plants – so much color. We wandered through the plants until we came to a cage with a cat-like animal that was pacing back and forth. This, my friends, was the coffee machine for one of the most expensive kinds of coffee on the market. The Asian palm civet (a cat-like animal) eats then poops out the beans. Someone (I wouldn’t want that job) sifts through the feces once it’s dry to obtain the beans that apparently have something extraordinary happen to them while they are in the digestive tracks of the palm civet. It all sounds very strange, but alas we tried it. Five USD for a cup of luwak coffee, and it just tasted like espresso to me. You can google luwak coffee and read more on this bizarre craze. Poop coffee. We also had a variety of complimentary coffees and teas to try, none of which came out of cat poop. The lemongrass tea was my favorite. It had a wonderful, fresh flavor to it. We finished our coffee and tea and started our bike ride.
At first, I was a little wobbly. Nervous. We were going down hill so fast. I rode the brakes. Cautiously. Then I got the hang of it and loved the feel of the wind as we flew down these monstrous hills. Turning corners made me a little uneasy, as did the random dogs that would just walk right into your path. At the end, I felt like I became pretty good at navigating through dogs, chickens, children, and large holes in the road. Always an adventure. We rode on busier roads before turning off onto dirt paths that wound through rice fields. We rode through tiny villages where the kids would wave and shout hello! Many of the villagers greeted us from the rice fields. They’d wave and have the most sincere smile on their face. I felt like they were genuinely happy to see us, which can’t be the case for how many tours ride through their village every day, but they sure seemed happy to see us. Maybe they were.
All in all, it was a lovely ride. Mostly downhill, though there were some monstrous hills that we had to ascend. I was sweating after the first one. The ride ended at a Balinese house where we had a home cooked meal. What a treat to see the inside of a home (we actually saw two during the ride). The first was very simple, the home of wood carvers and the second of a business family where one of the brothers was a politician. Very different homes. The second was very ornate with gold statues and framed pictures throughout the home and the first was very simple and functional.
The ride took most of the day. Recovering took what was left of the day (and the next day, to be honest), but it was worth it.