Saturday morning dawned with Simpson's clouds and a peacock blue sky. Stacy and I got up early, Adik arrived by 9 am and we set off to Nagoya to pick up Richard before trying to make our way to Barelang. When we made it to the suburbs we stood on a corner and waited for a taxi. The first one wanted $300,000 IDR for the day which I refused because that was as much as our cab from Nagoya the first time we went. He wasn't up for negotiating so we stood on the corner and waited two seconds until a bus driver stopped and asked us where we were going. After a bit of bartering he agreed to five hours for $170,000 IDR and we followed him to the bus where he opened the door, shouted something and ten people disembarked.
Gee, wonder why Westerners aren't universally welcome.
Equally unfortunate was my inability to name the beach we'd been at when we rented the kayaks.
"Melur," I said with the kind of confidence I exude when I haven't the foggiest clue but am surrounded by people who know even less and expect me to lead.
Turns out Melur, while beautiful, has no kayaks but, we were assured, just down the road at Pentai Basir we could find craft and paddles. So we got back in the van and drove down a rocky, hilly, eroded road to the top of a hill where our driver suggested we get out and walk to the beach.
Definitely not the beach we'd been to before and they wanted to charge us to stay so we turned tail and climbed back up the steep hill to the parking lot to discover our driver was gone. The Americans were beside themselves while I shrugged and said, "Might as well make the best of it," so we walked back down to the litter strewn beach where the locals called out to us eagerly as we passed.
After changing I wasted no time giving Adik her first swimming lesson and twenty minutes later our driver, Udi, arrived and sat under a tree to watch us. Adik still wanted to find kayaks so, after a chat with one of the locals who told me I was most unlady like with all my exercising and tattoos, we declined his offer of lunch and started back to the van.
But every two steps there was a crowd of people wanting their picture taken with us and it took almost half an hour to get back to the parking lot. Once we'd piled back in I sat with my head out the window enjoying the country air and that feeling of awe I get in moments like that, with that deep down in my bones gratitude to be alive.
By the time we finally found Malau Beach the sky had opened up to unleash the monsoon rain and we had to wait an hour for it to stop. When it finally did we discovered the owners of the kayaks weren't home and wouldn't be back until Sunday.
So we decided to head back to Melur and spent the rest of the day swimming in the cool, salty water. Adik and I were joking about catching one of the beach chickens to roast for dinner when there was a loud slap and a crash and a squawking behind us that made me jump to my feet. There was Udi holding pretty spotted hen by her feet.
I convinced him to let her go.
The drive home was quiet until we reached the city limits and Udi began his attempt at renegotiation. His price, which we'd already renegotiated to $200,000 IDR before going back to Melur had umped to $300,000 IDR. Apparently, the cost of gas had skyrocketed while we sat on the beach and we were also now expected to pay for his food and cigarettes.
"No," I told Adik firmly, "He would have eaten and smoked today whether he was with us or not."
He was still arguing when he dropped us off at the Kepri mall and after trying to convince the other three to quit entertaining him by engaging in this talk I walked away. Adik told me later that he tried to plead his case with the cab drivers at the taxi stand but after hearing the story they told him he had already made enough money and he should quit while he was ahead.
Inside the grocery store I spotted a very tall, familiar bule and spent the rest of my time dodging the three English teachers I'd met at the Scottish wedding in September, who had all congregated to discuss whether I was that girl or not.
Then we were off to my favourite ankringnan where Adik and I played the Javanese shell game while drinking ginger tea and plotting our trip in three weeks. Afterwards the four of us crowded onto our balcony for drinks and waited for our nightly lightning show but we were stood up.
Orion though, at the equator, lies on his side. A fallen hunter with no sign of the Big Bear to be found.
Light on the eve of the election
3 years ago