Sinopsis ‘Traces of Love’ (lanjutan From Paris to Eternity)

Sebulan telah lewat sejak Fay diterima menjadi anggota keluarga McGallaghan.

Lewat kehidupan yang nyaris sempurna di kastil McGallaghan di Paris, Fay berjuang melalui kesedihan akibat kehilangan kedua orangtuanya, sembari mencoba beradaptasi dengan anggota keluarga yang lain, termasuk Kent dan Reno. Di saat yang bersamaan, Fay menjalin komunikasi dengan Enrique Davalos, cowok keren berambut cepak asal Venezuela yang dikenalnya di cafe.

Setelah ulang tahun Fay yang kedelapan belas yang dirayakan dengan jamuan megah, pamannya, Andrew McGallaghan, menyatakan bahwa masa berkabung Fay telah usai. Fay pun diarahkan untuk mengetahui seluk-beluk keluarga secara lebih dalam, termasuk mengenal Core Operation Unit (COU), badan intelijen di bawah naungan keluarga McGallaghan.

Sejalan dengan waktu, hubungan antara Fay dan Enrique terjalin semakin erat—Kent dan Reno membayangi gerak-gerik Fay, masing-masing dengan alasan tersendiri. Bagi Fay, hubungannya dengan Enrique berjalan sempurna, hingga Andrew McGallaghan mulai memainkan kartunya satu demi satu.

Fay pun dihadapkan pada dua pilihan: mengikuti perintah pamannya dengan mengorbankan perasaannya, atau mendahulukan perasaannya dan menghadapi kemarahan pamannya.

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Pekan Kondom Nasional? Aih…..

Bila di negara ini ada perhelatan berjudul Pekan Kuliner Nasional (adakah?), bisa dipastikan kepala kita berimajinasi dengan tebaran piring berisi makanan yang menggugah selera. Di tengah-tengah perayaan Pekan Kuliner Nasional, sebuah kata ‘kuliner’ akan menerbangkan kita ke gerobak-gerobak jajanan dan piring-piring berisi kekayaan kuliner tanah air, disusul dengan suapan-suapan nikmat yang memuaskan saraf-saraf perasa dan menggugah selera, hingga air liur menetes. Sluuurrpp….. Mak Nyus.

Sementara, Pekan Kondom Nasional?

Judulnya saja sudah memicu kontroversi. Bayangkan, dari judul itu, seakan selama satu minggu negara ini merayakan banjiran dan lungsuran kondom dalam suka cita. Apa yang diharapkan untuk diimajinasikan kepala dengan judul Pekan Kondom Nasional?  Karet-karet seperti balon, beraneka rupa dan warna? Dengan judul itu, kondom seakan menjadi sebuah perayaan dan perhelatan nasional, di mana penyebutan kata ‘kondom’ diharapkan membawa imajinasi kepada sebuah negara yang berkelimpahan kondom. Negara kaya kondom. Sumber devisa, mungkin?

Aih…..Depkes.

Sayang sekali. Padahal saya bisa mengerti kebutuhan di balik keluarnya inisiatif program ini. Ancaman HIV sangat nyata di tengah-tengah seks bebas. Pembagian kondom tak salah, walaupun diperlukan kampanye tambahan, yaitu anti-seks-bebas. Dan masyarakat pun tak perlu menolak ajakan berkondom. Pekan Kondom Nasional adalah inisiatif murni, sebuah ajakan untuk lebih memperhatikan kesehatan anak-anak negeri, bukan dorongan untuk merusak moral.

Saya setuju, karena moral sudah seperti apa adanya. Di masyarakat yang bernaung di bawah payung agama-agama dan didasarkan pada Ketuhanan Yang Maha Esa, yang namanya moral (dalam kaidah agama) tetap saja beragam, sesuai kondisi jiwa.

Ada golongan pertama, yang penolakannya terhadap seks bebas bahkan sudah bukan karena pertimbangan dosa lagi, tapi karena mereka sudah mengerti bagaimana sakralnya sebuah persetubuhan dalam balutan cinta Ilahi. Ada golongan ke dua, yang menolak seks bebas karena ancaman neraka dan/atau ingin menegakkan dan menjalankan aturan agama. Ada golongan ke tiga, yang percaya seratus persen bahwa seks bebas adalah dosa besar menurut kaidah agama, tapi mengintip takut-takut karena penasaran. Ada golongan ke empat, yang dibesarkan dengan kaidah yang sama, tapi sekarang sudah cuek bebek dan melakukannya. Ada golongan ke lima, yang tak peduli lagi dengan kaidah agama atau ajaran dan norma, dan melakukannya sekehendak jiwa sesuai tuntutan nafsu. Ada golongan ke enam, yang menganggap seks adalah mata pencaharian.

Di manakah sasaran Pekan Kondom Nasional ini? Harusnya adalah golongan ke empat, lima, dan enam. Ada atau tidak ada Pekan Kondom Nasional, aktivitas seks bagi mereka yang ada di tiga golongan ini tidak berubah. Awareness tentang kondom penting bukan untuk mendorong aktivitas, tapi untuk mencegah dampak dari aktivitas tersebut, yang bisa menjalar ke banyak hal dan bahkan bisa menyentuh tiga golongan lain.

Jadi, pembagian kondom? Silakan saja, bagi mereka yang membutuhkan, ke mereka-mereka yang dengan atau tanpa kondom akan tetap berhubungan secara bebas.

Saya pribadi percaya, yang dibutuhkan oleh negara ini adalah sesuatu yang bersifat lebih jangka panjang, bukan sesuatu yang reaktif seperti penolakan program Depkes ini.

Negara ini perlu pendidikan tentang moral, di mana topik seks adalah salah satu di dalamnya. Saat ini topik seks sudah mulai dibahas di sekolah-sekolah dalam sebuah program ‘Pendidikan Seks’ yang sayangnya sebagian besar diadopsi dari sekolah-sekolah yang ada di Barat. Kita sepertinya lupa bahwa dunia modern cenderung untuk memisahkan Tuhan dengan kehidupan, sementara negara ini dibangun berlandaskan keTuhanan. Lagi-lagi, judulpun saya permasalahkan. ‘Pendidikan Seks’ punya marwah yang beda dengan ‘Pendidikan Moral: Seks’. Di judul yang pertama, seks seolah menjadi sesuatu yang netral, bila tidak terkesan didorong dan memicu keingintahuan. Sementara di judul ke dua, ada sedikit self-restraint atau pengendalian diri, bahwa seks berhubungan dengan moral. Dan moral, terkait dengan norma berTuhan.

Jadi, kalau Depkes membagikan kondom, bukankah Departemen Agama dan Departemen Pendidikan bisa menyebarluaskan ‘Pendidikan Moral: Seks’ ke seantero negeri?

Oke, mungkin saya berharap terlalu banyak dari negara yang sedang bergelut dengan masalah moral lain, korupsi.

Tak masalah bila negara tak mau mengambil alih urusan moral—saya cukup bersyukur karena negara ini setidaknya sudah mulai mengambil alih urusan kesehatan, walaupun banyak yang masih salah kaprah.

Semua yang masih bermoral bisa memikul tanggung jawab secara pribadi, dimulai dari diri sendiri (saya), kemudian diperluas ke lingkungan sekitar. Pekerjaan rumah saya kelihatannya jadi lebih banyak daripada bapak-bapak dan ibu-ibu berseragam pegawai negeri di Departemen Agama (dan Departemen Pendidikan), tapi tak mengapa.

Saya akan mengajarkan ke anak saya, apa artinya dilahirkan sebagai seorang wanita, dan seorang pria. Juga, apa makna cinta dalam nama Tuhan di Asmaul Husnah, dan kenapa cinta merupakan hal yang mendasar dalam hidup manusia. Selain itu, akan saya terangkan apa hakekat persetubuhan, kaitannya dengan cinta dan nama Tuhan, dan kenapa agama melarang melakukannya dengan semena-mena. Mungkin berikutnya saya akan memperkenalkannya dengan alat-alat kontrasepsi, termasuk kondom, dan memberi pengertian kenapa tak boleh sembarangan mengenakannya. Saya juga akan mengajarkan, apa artinya kehormatan seorang wanita, keteguhan seorang lelaki, dan kenapa keduanya harus menjaga diri masing-masing sebelum diperbolehkan untuk saling menjaga ketika dewasa nanti.

Dan itu semua, adalah pekerjaan rumah yang baru saya sadari ternyata harus saya lakukan sebagai seorang ibu, setelah kontroversi Pekan Kondom Nasional. Luar biasa cara Tuhan bekerja. Terima kasih, Depkes, karena telah membuka mata saya (walaupun saya tetap akan mengusulkan judul lain untuk program ini).

 

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Arequipa – Day Trek to Capua Waterfall

Let’s see.

I left Indonesia last month with the idea of trekking to Machu Picchu, but at the last moment chickened out because of the cold weather (yeah, it’s not a valid excuse, but it is the excuse that I’ve been using, successfully). On second thought, it is actually pretty valid–born in Jakarta, a city at sea level with average temperature above 30 degree centigrade and humidity above 90%, I was surely not made for such weather and altitude.

After the timid decision, however, I kept on meeting people who have done various treks to Machu Picchu: Inca Trail, Salkantay, Lares, you name it.

So, when I arrived in Arequipa, I felt my body was itching for a little bit of adventure….in the most convenient way. That’s when I searched for a day trek. In peruadventurestours.com I found an interesting description for a place called Capua waterfall, which is an original trek discovered by the tour company.

I signed up for the backpacker service, which meant I would be traveling with public bus instead of the private transfer car.

I was picked up in the morning by Jarly, my tour guide, a man in the thirties, then we proceeded by taxi to the so-called bus terminal. Turned out it was not a bus terminal, but a place where the bus waited for passengers. We waited inside the bus for almost half an hour, waiting for the passengers to fill the bus so that the bus driver could ‘feel’ okay to start the journey. It was probably half-full when the driver finally decided to leave. Our destination was a small city near a cement factory in the outskirt of Arequipa called Yura, between 30 minuts to one hour by bus. Traffic was a bit crazy in the morning, but I did enjoy the erratic view of the city, along with the many local people in the bus, signified the real Arequipan life that I wouldn’t see should I sign up for regular touristic tours instead.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA[The local bus to Yura]

After we got off from the bus, we started to climb a steep hill. This was of course the point when I started to curse myself for satisfying the looking-for-adventure side of me. I was sure Jarly could do it in no time, but he was very kind to stop and checked on me from time to time. I’d warned him that I walked like a snail and he just smiled in understanding. Gee, that must be one of my best days.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA[My first steep climb–this is Jarly seen from below]

When we reached the top of the hill, there in front of our eyes were these dry never-seem-to-end hills, up and down. The sun was fierce but the wind was blowing quite hard, balancing the heat. As far as we could see, there was NOT a single human being. That alone was a total bliss for my soul.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA[Not a single soul. Love it.]

There was no tall tree, just cactus, occasionally. Jarly showed me the fruit of the cactus that people used as juice in Colca Canyon (forgot the name). The taste is sour (right, Jarly?).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA[Juice, anyone?]

As a good guide, Jarly also told me about the Inca along the way. I think he was a big part in making this trip a pleasant journey. His passion for adventure and travel was clearly shown during our conversations and I personally think it did make a difference–during this short trip, he was not merely a guide who blabbered memorized stories and intended to arrive at the destination as fast as he could to finish the job quickly, but he was more like a travel companion who made sure I enjoyed the journey as much as the destination.

After walking for about 1.5 hours (I think), we suddenly arrived in a place that looked like an oasis. Right in the middle of these rocks, there was this green valley.

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We walked down the hill and in the valley, until we arrived in a small river. From here, we changed our shoes to sandals and walked IN the river. Ah, my favorite part, soaking my sore toes to the chilling water.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA[Really, really, loooove this spot! So beautiful and magnificent.]

We walked in the river and had to stop from time to time to climb the big rock that was blocking the way. I must say, the excitement just began for me.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA[In some cases, we literally had to crawled our way on or around the rock. What a productive day.]

There were two (or three) places where the water fell from above. Too bad I was too busy concentrating on (and enjoying) the walk to take out my camera. I finally took out my camera when we had arrived in the final destination, last waterfall. Here Jarly took out some bananas, drinks and snacks. It was enough for me, but I think it would be better if he brought sandwich to fill the demanding stomach.

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After about half an hour, we had to leave. Jarly said the wind got colder in the afternoon and the water level rose. And he was right. I could feel my foot was dipping deeper in stronger current, and the wind was blowing harder and colder. We finally arrived in Arequipa at around 6 in the afternoon.

All in all, this 2.5 hour walk (5 hours return) was one of the most memorable moments that I’ve ever had, not just because of the variation in the path (dry landscape, oasis, river, rock), but also because of the serenity of the landscape. Listening to the winds while at the same time being greeted by the magnificence of the landscape were memories that I would carry and cherish for as long as I live.

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Culinary Adventure – Cuy

Hari ini, Genara (my Spanish teacher) mengajak saya ke ‘cuyeria’, rumah makan yang khusus menyajikan cuy atau guinea pig. Cuy adalah makanan khas yang bisa ditemui di beberapa negara Amerika Latin, termasuk Peru. Di Cusco, banyak restoran di tengah kota yang menyajikan cuy, namun harganya relatif mahal dan tidak terlalu orisinil karena sudah disesuaikan dengan lidah turis asing. Di restoran-restoran ini, cuy disajikan dalam bentuk potongan, dilengkapi dengan pasta dan sayuran, dan bisa diperoleh dengan harga sekitar 60 soles. Cuy terenak sebenarnya ada di daerah Tipon, sebuah kota kecil berjarak setengah jam dari Cusco, namun karena saya sudah penasaran luar biasa untuk mencobanya, ditambah dengan kemungkinan bahwa saya tidak sempat mengunjungi Tipon, maka saya tak keberatan untuk menjajal cuy di Cusco.

Restoran yang kami kunjungi berada di luar area turis, sekitar sepuluh menit naik taksi dengan biaya 5 soles (Genara yang menawar, tentunya). Sebuah cuy utuh di restoran ini dihargai tiga puluh soles, tapi karena kami minta supaya cuy disajikan setengah untuk masing-masing, harganya jadi tiga puluh lima soles karena ada side dish ekstra.

Saya pernah melihat guinea pig yang masih hidup, yang menurut saya imut sekali, gabungan antara hamster dan kelinci (sebenarnya sih nggak mirip sama sekali dengan kelinci, tapi entah kenapa saya merasa begitu). Tapi, ketika melihat separuh guinea pig terpampang di piring, harus saya bilang bahwa tak ada keimutan yang tersisa. It’s just like a dead rat.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ingatan akan tikus mati tentunya tak menggoyah keinginan saya untuk mencoba, walaupun sedikit mempengaruhi selera.

Dengan gagah berani saya mulai menarik kulitnya dengan tangan, lalu menggigitnya. Ternyata liat. Menurut Genara, cuy yang sangat enak harusnya mempunyai kulit yang crunchy, seperti kripik ketika digigit.

Setelah mengunyah kulit yang liat itu, saya merasa perlu istirahat dulu sebentar dan akhirnya mulai mengutak-atik side dish yang ada di piring. Ada dua jenis kentang yang rasanya biasa saja, dan ada sebuah gorengan yang ternyata sejenis paprika yang diisi dengan sayuran. Nyam nyam, di luar dugaan saya suka dengan rasa sedikit pedas yang dikombinasi dengan kriuk tepung di bagian luar dan sayuran di dalam.

Kembali ke cuy.

Saya menguliti cuy di piring saya dan menyisihkannya, karena setelah kunyahan pertama tadi sepertinya tak ada harapan lebih lanjut untuk memakan kulitnya. Daging cuy ternyata empuk dan rasanya…yah…tidak seperti daging lain yang pernah saya makan. Tekstur dan empuknya mungkin mirip daging ayam (kalau saya makan dengan mata tertutup dan berusaha memikirkan hal-hal indah), hanya rasanya agak melenceng sedikit ke arah yang tak dikenal. Saya membalik cuy di piring, dan ternyata ada olesan bumbu berwarna hijau yang sekilas mirip saus pesto tapi tentu rasanya berbeda. Saya sebenarnya suka dengan rasa sausnya, tapi entah kenapa kalau dimakan bersamaan dengan daging cuy menurut saya kok malah jadi ‘off’—di mulut saya terasa seperti tengik dan…yah…rasa itu memunculkan bayangan tikus mati tadi.

Saya mulai mengutak-atik side dish lagi. Kali ini saya bertanya ke Genara bulatan kehitaman yang ada di piring saya sebenarnya apa, apakah sejenis kentang?

“Bukan, itu campuran kentang, bumbu-bumbu, dan organ-organ di perut guinea pig.”

Ahem. Okelah. Saya toh pernah makan jeroan kambing dan masih selamat sampai sekarang, jadi tak ada salahnya mencoba. Saya mengambil sepotong, memasukkannya ke mulut, dan detik itu juga hampir memuntahkannya lagi. S**t!

IT TASTES like S**T!

That’s it. Tak diragukan lagi bahwa ini adalah pengalaman pertama sekaligus terakhir makan jeroan guinea pig.

Setelah menghabiskan cuy (hampir), saya memperhatikan restoran yang mulai ramai oleh pengunjung, yang semuanya orang lokal. Kebanyakan dari mereka ternyata memesan sejenis cuy (saya lupa namanya) yang digoreng tepung (cuy yang saya makan dipanggang). Di piring, tampilannya jauh lebih manusiawi. Bahkan menurut saya dari jauh tampak seperti ayam goreng tepung raksasa. Menurut Genara, itu adalah menu yang baru belakangan muncul dan semakin populer, dan merupakan spesialisasi di Arequipa.

Aha!

Saya akan meninggalkan Cusco di hari Minggu dan tiba di Arequipa hari Senin (delapan jam perjalanan dengan bis). I’ll definitely try one over there.

So, until the next cuy (or whatever the name) adventure.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

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Peru: Coca Leaves Reading by Shaman

Day 15 in Cusco, Peru. An interesting day.

I walked down the hill from my Spanish school with the sole intention of visiting a café in San Blas that uses its profit to build and empower local community, mostly women.

Not too far from the school, on the street that I have passed more than twenty times, my foot just stopped in front of a museum. It was the Museum of Sacred and Medicinal Plants. I entered to take a peek and finally was intrigued and paid the 15 soles of entrance.

The museum itself is amazing. It explains various plants that are considered sacred to the Peruvian (local), because these plants have been used for generations for religious and ceremonial purposes, until now. Ayahuasca and San Pedro, two most famous plants whose names are mentioned pretty often in South America, are just few of them; there are many that I’ve never heard of. Not only that, there are also so many plants for so many diseases. It is amazing to see how nature provides everything that we need.

At the main hall of the museum, there is even a life guinea pig on display (btw, it was so cute–I feel guilty looking at it, knowing that sometime next week I might want to eat it! There is a traditional meal called ‘cuy’, made of guinea pig…but that’s another story). The guide explained that a Shaman or a Healer used guinea pig to diagnose a patient. He will rub the body of the patients with a black guinea pig that is still alive, then later on he will cut the guinea pig and examined its body and internal organ for any disease–it is believed that the disease in the patient is being replicated to the guinea pig, thus the patient can be diagnosed through the (poor) animal.

When the walk inside the museum was over, something attracted my attention: a leaflet saying “Reading of Coca Leaves.”

What a coincidence 😉 on the day that I visit the museum, there was a visit by a Shaman from Quieros. Quieros is famous for the community of local people who still practice and keep shamanism alive. Reading coca leaves is one of their expertise (and so I was told). To visit this community (which apparently is not possible now ever since the government decided to protect this community from outside influence that can contaminate the culture), one must take a five hours ride in a car or bus, then continue walking for several days.

With an explanation like that, who wouldn’t be intrigued, right? Well, at least I did. I paid thirty soles to the museum and waited patiently.

I entered the room and saw a man whose age I guess was around fifty (ahem, I’m not good at guessing age—why did I even try!). He wore a red robe and red hat made from the traditional clothes. The translator for my reading was a guy who works at the museum, who can speak Quechua (the language used by the Shaman).

The Shaman had a piece of wrapped cloth in his hands, made from the same traditional cloth as his robe and hat. After asking my name and where I came from, he started to shake the cloth wildly with both of his hands while speaking (or chanting) in Quechua. My guess is, he was asking permission from the mother earth or the spirit to read me, because I could hear my name and the word ‘Indonesia’ were spoken in the middle of his long sentence.

Then, he put the piece of cloth in his hands on top of my head, while still speaking in Quechua. He then asked me to blow into the cloth three times. “With faith,” he said.

After that, he unwrapped the piece of cloth, and there they were—the coca leaves.

The translator asked me whether there was any specific question. I said no—I just wanted to hear what he said.

He asked again, “But what do you want to ask him, your work, your family, your health, your relationship? Do you want to know now, the past, or the future?”

I answered, “Whatever. Just ask him everything.”

With that, the translator made the decision for me. He asked the shaman about my health, my work, my relationship, past, present….well, everything 🙂

With each question, the shaman picked some leaves from the table (not all), shook it in his hands while chanting the mantra again, mentioning my name and country again, then threw the coca leaves in his hands to the table.

It was interesting to see how he interpreted the coca leaves afterwards. After several throws, I managed to get a slight idea about which reading was good and which was bad.

In general, coca leaves facing up mean a good sign, and leaves facing down are bad signs. The rests of the stories that the shaman told me seemed to depend on the pattern or position of the coca leaves that were laid on the table.

After about twenty minutes, the shaman yawned (right, yawn!) and ended the session.

I walked out a happy customer. Not because of what he (or the coca leaves) told me about my life, but because I think I was lucky enough to be a witness of a shaman at work. What a productive day 😉

 

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Time

For some people, life is a competition with time. Perhaps because time is considered an enemy, for time eventually will lead us to death.

Some of them think they can trick it by moving slowly. Stagnancy stretches the day, making it seem longer. Meaning might be lost on the way, but who cares, for it is less important than convenience. They hide in routines and let the time be veiled by comfort.

Others think moving fast will beat time. They believe that the meaning of life is scattered in the pieces of the so-called accomplishments, and by achieving them, they acquire the full meaning of life. They believe at the end of the day, satisfaction will override time,

Both, in fact, will arrive in the end feeling exhausted. Rushing is exhausting, stagnancy is exhausting—both drain the soul in different ways, but with the same result nonetheless.

Meaning lies in time. Each second bears a meaning of its own, if only one knew. Time is not something to compete with—it is something to embrace, even if it carries death with it. Living with the thought of avoiding death is a useless life.

Only those who understand death know the truth about living.

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When I leave this world…

Not sure if this is eligible to be called a poem, but anyway, here it is.
When I leave this world….
 
When I leave this world
I will blend myself with His blessings
that fall upon the world
Upon you
 
His blessings never cease
Hidden beneath tears and laughters
Disguised as friends and foes
Present in every single breath of the universe
 
Each ray of sunlight that touches your skin
Every breeze of wind that swirls on your face
All the waving leaves that greet you softly
Will contain me
 
Smile to the universe and you will smile to me
Dive into His blessings and you will know,
that for better or worse,
I never leave you
 
(CF, June 2012)

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