Rinjani volcano at 3,700 meters is the third highest mountain in Southeast Asia. When Wyasa invited me to join him and a few of his friends to climb this peak, I thought we were in for a mountaineering adventure…But as usual for me in Indonesia, I really had no idea what I was getting into when I agreed to this six-day adventure.
Our Mission: Pray for Harmony, Rain….and Don’t Die
It turned out that our journey would be a pilgrimage with a group of 250 Hindus primarily from Lombok, and a few from Bali. Our mission would be to honor the most fundamental Balinese Hindu philosophy of Tri Hita Karana which roughly translates to finding harmony with God, harmony with other people and harmony with nature.
The group also carried the responsibility of conducting prayers and ceremonies to ensure a healthy rainy season.
In addition to these group objectives, my own personal goal was to avoid a painful death which could occur if I fell off the mountain, was burned alive by lava got hit by lightning or one of the dozen other calamities that can occur on such an expedition. In other words, I just tried to stay positive.
And on the positive side, one of my goals for living in Bali is to become embedded in the culture. This trip helped me do that. My Indonesian language skills are still nursery school level, but good enough to hold conversations. And I am continually humbled by the gracious and accepting way that Balinese people invite us into their families, their ceremonies and their pilgrimages while forgiving my many faux pas.
The event got rolling on November 1 with a ceremony at the Mataram Taman temple in Mataram, Lombok. Hindus represent about 20% of Lombok’s primarily
Muslim population. We spent the night at Nengah’s family house. Nengah is Wyasa’s beautiful and very smart girlfriend. Nengah is one of eight daughters. They and their lovely parents took very good care of us.
The next morning we tightly packed ourselves into buses without air conditioning. Per ritual, everyone lit up a clove cigarette to get the ball rolling, and then promptly fell asleep sprawled over one another.
Our first night we slept in relative comfort after a ceremony. Orders were given that we were to be awake at 4am, and ready to start by 5.