A L-O-N-G trip

Sorry for the slowness of this post…I didn’t realize Michael had committed me to write it until after he had sent the email…and we are internet-less (except for the occasional internet cafe and friends house) for a couple more weeks.

In the history of epic trips, the trip we just took ranks up there. We’ve spent days flying half way around the world…we’ve driven cross country…we’ve driven through the night…we’ve done trips where we used almost every form of transportation (plane, boat, inner tube, hike…), but this trip still ranks quite high. 
Fuelshortage1Fuelshortage2Fuelshortage3Fuelshortage4
pictures of the lines for the pump, workers putting a rope across the road because the fuel is all gone, crazy traffic…

For two very full days 9 people drove on bumpy, curvy roads. The 1000 miles took us 30 hours. We set off with threats of a fuel shortage and rumors of Rp 20,000 a liter (which roughly translates to about $12USD a gallon). Because of the fuel shortage, Michael and his friend syphoned off 25 liters of gas to put in a jerry can in the back of our truck. Then late the evening Michael set off to replace the gas that he’d put in the jerry can. For the last week we’d been driving past line after line at the tanks or looking at signs of “maaf solar habis” (diesel is out)…so he headed to the most quiet gas station he knew of and waited in line. The gas station workers told him that they were out but he saw trucks filling up so he said I’ll just try it. By the time he got up to the front, the gas station lights had been turned out and he was the only car there. Because we had such a long drive, they filled him up, much to his relief. So the next morning we got up, said goodbye to friends,
and drove and drove and drove.

We dodged goats and other cars and bikes. We bumped over potholes. We sped through the roadblocks set up to gather money. We slept and woke and laughed and sat quietly. The baby screamed occasionally (he’s getting four molars). We ate the snacks our friends brought…bread and sweetened condensed milk (a nod to us Americans), fried banana chips, steamed rice in banana leaves…We stopped to eat our lunch of fried chicken and rice. We saw beautiful ocean overlooks,
and we drove and drove and drove. 

And then finally we were at our a friend of a friends house at 10 pm, eating several kinds of fish and rice and greens. Then they took us to a guesthouse that they had paid for. I was so grateful for the large rooms and air con and clean walls and clean everything. But after four hours of sleep we got up and set off on the road 
again. 

My sleepy, miserable, grumpiness started to fade as I watched my big boy sit with wide eyes at the open car 
window watching the dark night speed by. As he watched lightening flash in the distance and inhaled the night air, he said “mom I love this trip so much.” The darkness faded with the rays of morning and we stopped at a small corner store for breakfast. The old lady was fresh out of food but invited us in for coffee and instant noodles. It was one of the best breakfasts I’ve had in awhile. It was amazing to see how a stranger would happily take us all in, seat us at her table, offer us showers and bathrooms, and give the baby toys when he cried. We felt like we had already become friends by the time we continued on, and she told us to stop by if we ever made the trip again. She even shed a few tears as we all said goodbye. 

Most of the rest of the road blurs together. We saw a few beautiful beaches, but to be honest I was more interested in the people living their lives by the side of the road. I saw a few snippets of life…an old man doing wuzud (washing up before his prayers at the mosque) in a puddle…ladies washing their clothes in the river…families sitting on porches chatting…men untangling their nets on the village soccer field…boys herding goats…herding cows…people tending rice paddies… I wonder what life is like for them.

Lunch in a small dusty town that felt pretty oppressive. 
More and more and more driving. And more driving. Until we were all so sick of it that we felt like crying along with the baby. 
Then we were finally here at 7 at night, eating fish meatballs and noodles with friends. We all looked quite crazy with bloodshot eyes and dried out skin. It was good to get showers and go right immediately to sleep.

It was a very AUTHENTIC experience. 

 

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