Blast from the past: When you could drink sweet water straight out of a Kuta well

(Massa losmen, Poppies Lane, circa mid 1970s, photo courtesy Robert Wilson)

Sun crisped and thirsty from hours of sunny surf at the Kuta Beach break, not another soul on your peak, you head back down the lane that would become known as Poppies with your board under your arm to the homestay losmen in the coconut groves. After chasing the family cow away from the steps to your porch (furnished with the bamboo chair & table, and the plump pisang susu banana the Ibu has put on the plate for an apres-surf snack), you’d put down the board and head for the well. Pulling up a bucket from the water table a couple meters down, you’d slake your thirst from the cool clear sweet water and pour the rest over your head. Ah, bliss.

That was then. Now? I was talking to my friend Budin the other day on a lazy Serangan day. He grew up on Poppies Lane back when you could drink the well water. He says these days the ground table water is often yellow and stinking. Take a sip, and you might as well be imbibing a cup of cholera.

Funny thing water…something we all take for granted.

Until we don’t have it anymore.

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