Marianne Schafer, Coordinator, Friends of the Hermitage
I was sorry to miss December at the Hermitage, especially the beach event that had so many people in attendance. Thanks to all of you who helped out in so many ways while I was away.
Actually, I heard all about it via the Hermitage website all the way on the other side of the world in Indonesia where Mike and I spent the month celebrating the marriage of our eldest son to a lovely young woman we have come to adore.
After the wedding in Jakarta, we spent two weeks travelling with the newlyweds to Yogyakarta and the island of Gili Trawangan off the coast of Bali and Lombok. Yogyakarta is known as the center of classical Javanese fine art and culture. Highlights of our travels were seeing a traditional Javanese ballet, hearing the beautiful strains of a Javanese orchestra, and shopping for batiks, tapestries, and fine silver filagree jewelry where the various processes were demonstrated for us by skilled artisans. We also witnessed a 4 a.m. sunrise over Borabadur, the largest Buddhist archaeological site in the world.
We spent Christmas on Gili Trawangan where I felt like I was living in a National Geographic article. We arrived there by boat, having waded into the Indian Ocean with our luggage to an awaiting water taxi. We spent the last week relaxing in a three-bedroom house a swimming pool with a soothing waterfall that was a welcome relief from the tropical heat. Breakfast was brought to our dining table; and we ate the rest of our meals in restaurants along a narrow, dusty cobblestone road traversed by bicycles, horse-drawn carts and pedestrians—no motor scooters or cars allowed.
All the time I was reminded of the Hermitage and the wonderful artists we have met and enjoyed there. Seeing a culture on the other side of the world made me realize more than ever how alike we all are, no matter where we live on this precious planet. Art is truly the universal language of mankind.
Now I am happy to be back home enjoying the cultural life that is the Hermitage and looking forward to all that the Hermitage has to offer in the New Year. Hopefully, you will continue to make the Hermitage a part of your life, too and we hope to see you at the February 12 meeting of the Friends of the Hermitage.