My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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BALI, Indonesia—We waited two hours at the airport in Djakarta before we left for Bali. First it was a faulty fuel tank. Then our pilot agreed to show us volcanoes on the way down, and that apparently meant another change of plans; so we ate our lunch at the airport restaurant.

It seems to me that many people enjoy coming and merely sitting in the airport. I saw whole families sitting around the tables, sipping cold drinks and enjoying life with no apparent concern about departure. Many people come to meet planes and to see people off, which makes me realize that in our busy lives at home we may not realize that we should take time out to meet people when they come to our country from distant lands. We are usually content if we have flowers or a note of welcome awaiting them at their hotel. Here the flowers and their donors are at the airport and nothing is too much trouble if they can add to your comfort and pleasure.

The scenery on our flight was most interesting, varying from rice paddies to mountains. True to his promise, our pilot circled six volcanoes and gave us very good views of the craters. One or two had fire burning in them, and several have been active not too long ago. Not since I was a child and looked down into Mount Vesuvius in Italy, with my father reassuring me, have I had such a good view of a volcano.

We arrived in Bali when it was already almost dark, but a charming lady representing the governor of this province met us and helped us to make our plans for our stay. Her husband is the assistant to the governor, and we had dinner with the governor and this charming couple. We are moving to a village this morning where many painters live and will be in a Balinese house which is certainly more interesting than any hotel could be.

The governor told me that he has five million people in his care. In Indonesia as a whole, literacy is only about seven percent. But here in Bali they have free primary schools. They not only write their own language in their own characters but learn our letters as well; and they say that 60 percent of the people are literate. For secondary and junior high they pay a fee, and of course anyone going to a university pays. The ratio of doctors to population is frightening in terms of any real medical care. The World Health Organization and the Children's Fund of the U.N. both carry on projects here. The United States, through its own program of technical assistance, cooperates closely with the U.N. work especially in the field of malaria control. There's a new problem now, for as the mosquitoes become accustomed to DDT it has less and less effect and the scientists have to find new mixtures.

The governor, in speaking of the skills of his people here, said that painting and wood carving were the arts in which they really excelled. But I also was told Balinese earrings are very distinctive and much liked by ladies all through the islands. There were some people selling goods to the tourists last night and I thought their wares shoddy, but was at once told the tourists did not want to pay for the really good things.

After dinner we took a short stroll around the streets and came upon a little outdoor entertainment, with an orchestra playing and a child some ten years old dancing. After thirteen, children here stop dancing, as they are then ready to marry. It was a pretty scene, with flares burning at booths where edibles were for sale and the soft and pleasant music in the background.

E.R.
PNews, NSJ, 7 September 1955