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roaming the world and enjoying the scenery...

Tofu (Gesundheit!)

(still more info from our Winter Break trip – we’ve already spent time on the islands of Gili Trawangan snd Lombok getting certified to dive,  spent some time in the city of Yogyakarta and visited the Hindu temple at Prambanan. This entry is from an afternoon while we were staying outside the Buddhist complex at Borodubur)

Gunung Merapi (Fire Mountain), at 2911 meters, is just one of the many active volcanoes that construct the spine of central Java.  The United Nations has declared it a ‘decade volcano‘ because of its active and destructive nature.  This is a dubious honor; there are only 15 others on the planet.  We saw signs of its latest work when we drove to Borobudur; roads and river beds washed out by ash and rock flows just last February.  Our hotel guide in Borobudur told us 3-5 cm of ash had settled on the village and they couldn’t see for a day.   1-3 cm of ash had fallen on Borobudur temple and it needed to close for 2 days so more than 200 local volunteers could clean it up and ready it for more visitors.   The Sultan still does annual offerings to Merapi to appease its ‘voice’.

Merapi volcano propped above the cloudsNear the highway back to Yogyakarta, we passed the evidence of the volcanic eruption
Mud slides from Merapi wiped out this villageAgainst the dark of an approaching storm, the volcanic damage is evident
One afternoon we went on a village tour.  The views were sublime – green as green can be; rice, chili peppers, eggplant, corn, beans…  We visited during rainy season, so farmers were busy planting rice.  We saw terraced paddy fields stretching for miles, full of seedlings ready to thrive in the Java rains.  Our guide told us that central Java is located such that farmers can take advantage of two seasons; they plant rice during the rainy season (October – March) and tobacco during the dry season (April – September).  According to him, they plant rice to eat and tobacco to make a living.
We could see Borodubur as we explored the rice paddies around the areaWe saw tons of older people at work in the fields, including this man on his bike
This woman was pretty friendly about us stopping by (but some of her peers were not!!)A man tends his flocks among the green
One village had several tofu home industries.  If a home had a big pile of firewood outside the door, you knew they were a tofu-making family.  Inside, they had a small crusher that crushed soybeans that were imported from the USA and/or grown in Indonesia.  Once crushed, they were put to soak in water.  When soggy, acid and heat were added to encourage separating the product into meal – which was skimmed and used to feed animals – and tofu.  Our guide said it was much like the process of making cheese by separating curds and whey.  The mass was then placed into a box frame and settled over a bamboo rack.  It was pressed down to drain all the excess moisture.  When solid, a woman popped it out of the frame, cut it into slices and threw the small chunks into a vat of boiling oil.  Once covered with a fried coating, she sorted them by size into big buckets filled with water.  Early the next morning, they were driven to markets all over the area.   Such a neat process!
Tofu in its raw form and in fried chunksMoving the heavy racks of tofuIt is an all-family affair, with the son helping out as well
Cutting it up to be friedThe cut chunks get boiled in hot oil
Sorting the chunks by sizeTasting the finished product (with a bit of salt)
Susan shows off her new tofu rack!
In another village, we had a go at making our own pottery on a hand wheel.  This home industry took local orders from as far away as Jakarta, employing locals and providing them with a trade and steady income.  This is important, as most villagers in the area do not benefit from the millions of tourist dollars that are generated because of Borobudur.  Most tourists come to the area for a few hours from Jogyakarta and then leave again.  Our local guide was working hard to encourage tourists to spend time in the area, learn about what the locals were doing, and support their entrepreneurial efforts.
We got down and dirty, creating potteryworkBreck had quite a lot of fun getting his candle holder "just so"
Alea takes her turn, making an incense burner/aromatherapy thingySusan works hard on her piece
But the favorite part about the pottery place? The baby ducks!As everything was drying, the kids cuddled with the ducklings kept in the family's home
Our stuff came out before it was completely set, but we were able to pack it back to Jakarta (almost) completely fine

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