TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Leonard Lueras has spent more than half his lifetime traveling across this "incredibly rich and great archipelago," as he described Indonesia, and publishing books about it.
"I'm one of the [few foreign] journalists or writers who actually live here," the 71-year-old American veteran journalist told Tempo English. He has lived in Bali for over 40 years.
Tempo English spent an afternoon chatting with Lueras in his uniquely designed and beautifully curated two-storey home at a villa compound in Sanur, Bali.
Lueras is a Hispanic-American born in New Mexico and raised in Southern California. He studied communications at California Western University in San Diego on a William Randolph Hearst Foundation scholarship for young journalists.
As an avid surfer, Lueras said jokingly that he chose his university "because it was right on the beach and you can surf there." But after a chuckle, he diplomatically acknowledged that "it was a good school too."
With a passion for journalism, Lueras started to write freelance since the age of 17. At university, he interned with the Honolulu Advertiser, at the time a major newspaper in Hawaii. Soon after graduating, he landed his first full-time job working for the publication as a reporter.
Lueras calmly lit a cigarette in the middle of the next question and you could sense his easygoing and relaxed attitude.
Lueras defines himself as a 'newspaperman'. "I really don't like the term author or writer," he said. "What is the real definition of a journalist?" he asks with a humorous twinkle. "It's a newspaperman looking for a job!"
From Lebanon and Israel to Laos and Cambodia, Lueras said he has been around the world fives times as a traveler, journalist and photographer. Yet he chose to settle in Bali. "It's the most culturally-alive little island on the planet," he said. "I mean, have you been to another island that has more going for it in terms of day-to-day culture and creativity?" (*)
Read more stories about inspiring people in Tempo English Weekly News Magazine