To follow up the more frustrated feelings of my final week, I am rewinding to our final weekend prior to the Indonesia Channel rehearsals. This is to serve as a reminder that, while there was a lot of frustration, the vast majority of the program was exciting and inspiring.
Banyuwangi embodies those sentiments.
The energy in that town is a unique force of contagious happiness. It seems like everybody smiles with their entire body. Despite being financially one of the poorest sections of Java (many people live on only $100 a month) it is culturally and emotionally one of the richest places I’ve been to. The population relishes its heritage, celebrating it with style and panache, sharing with anybody who wants to join.
Therefore, the regency’s government invited us back for the Banyuwangi Ethno Carnival. They hosted us for two days and we got to march in their main parade wearing traditional costumes.
That day was one of searing heat and vibrant colors. Our group was fortunate to only have to march about 300 meters before sitting in the shady VIP section (I don’t understand why things like these happen to us) while the rest of the parade continued for a full three kilometers. Ahead of us were drummers and a sea of gandrung dancers, while behind us were a few hundred costumes honoring the water buffalo, a spiritual animal for the Banyuwangi area.

During our first trip there, I learned the word semangat (seh-mahng-aht) which Indonesians use for encouragement (you can do it!). But it literally translates to spirit, passion or zeal. If there is a place with semangat, it’s Banyuwangi.
We really love Banyuwangi (not Baltimore/Washington International Airport)
You’ll see this again… On somebody’s back

Hello Gandrung

Haylee from Australia 

Photo by Nola from Tonga
By Titi from Indonesia

 Starting below, the costumes represent the traditional elements:


There were ridiculous shoes here

I always love the juxtaposition of modern and traditional

Again, the shoes
These guys had white contact lenses… It was creepy


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