Great gobs of madness, gladness and joy from Jakarta! I write this from the rooftop of my hostel The 6 Degrees Backpackers Hostel in the center of the city. I wish to catch you up and write for my own accord the beginning of this adventure. I hope everyones New Years amazing!
(Dec 30 2014)
After a long and grueling 30hrs of travel I land in the moist monster of a city called Jakarta. Horns blaze through my groggy mind as my nose is filled with the tart sweet stench of bidi cigarette smoke.
Customs consists of a man in a single cubicle looking ugly and mean. I have purchased my Visa from the previous line and now expect an interrogation. He is not impressed I have learned how to say "Happy New Year" in his tongue. With some grunts and stamps he sends me off.
The security is nill. They have exray machines but only wish my shoulder bag to be sent through. They give not a glance at the camera cane strange as it is and I have not removed the camera.
Outside men beckon with smiles and gestures for me to ride their taxi. Following wise advice to not be charged thrice I elect to take a overpriced "secure taxi service" to my Hostel. My driver man speaks very little english but has me beat over my understanding his countries communication. We talk in short bursts and attempts to describe ideas but often are duly defeated with an exasperated sigh. We do reach some communication (with the help of my phone app) and we are very joyed. He wishes to be on camera and be the first to thank me and welcome me to his country.
The roads are thick and it conjures imagery of a sustained stampede where all species of motor vehicles are wild and diverse in both size and agility. Giant trucks swerve like elephant hips causing the lesser sized creatures to react and swing out of its way. The motorcycles and scooters are flies that swarm and zing through narrow gaps that grow and shrink loudly buzzing with combustion. All the metal kingdom wails horn and shout threat though all are empty for meaning.
The hostel is very nice and clean with spots of air conditioning. Smiles meet me from all over the globe as travelers look up from their coffee and internet. I have taken a private room the first night (a $5 difference in price) in order to gain my footing and recover from the mostly sleepless slingshot over the ocean.
I rest in the room for about 8min before stirring to my intrest of the new and giant world outside. I head out with no rhyme or reason other than striding my stagnant legs. I am on the main road and mesmerized by the before mentioned motors. I find side streets and receive the familiar "Halos!" (hellos) one receives for being a clear and present stranger. (Familiar from my experiences in India) Most have smiles, some ignore my passing. I see a drainage canal full of water pushing debris. I decide to hop down to the cement shore line and walk that route a while. Below I discover several living quarters under the bridge space. Not surprised in the least I nod my respect and walk away from the encampments towards children splashing in the water. One rides a broken styrofoam brick. They bid me welcome and ask me to join in the water. I laugh and to their shock sprint toward the water and pretend to leap in. They explode in laughter and continue to wave their hands to get me to come to that side of the shore.
Walking back toward the bridge and the homes others across the water way say "Halo!, How are you? I am fine!" all in one rehearsed sentence. I sit and we speak the general questions with hiccups. We smile and wave a few times. It is not lost on me that the river gap is not as big as the communication gap, but our humanity gap and distance for our willingness to be seen by each other as good and loving is as close as the humidity in the air.
I become totally lost and enjoy it. I follow the side streets that turn to alleys, mothers are talking around a stall and ask me to join. I do and we joke with our usual questions. I tell them I am from Mars to the enjoyment of the teenagers who explain to the mothers that Mars is a planet. (most likely called by another name in Indo). One mother is not sure if I am serious or not. She is generally concerned but if it is for my mental state or for the possibility that I may be visiting from another planet I will never know.
I pass a wide hall way of a store with seats and hair cuts happening. I hold my scruff and realize that in the 2 months leading to this ride I had thought about cutting it but never seemed to have the time. With this in mind I wait with patience and provoke the children to laughter. I take my place when a seat is vacant and we discuss which number of guard is best for his trimmer. He buzzes me and we hold laughter and I wish for a photo. The word "selfie" passes through the crowd which has now nearly doubled to no less than 10 children and 6 adults.
With a bit of wisdom but mostly dumb luck I arrive back near my hostel where I enter a outdoor restaurant and look at the menu. I have absolutely no freaking idea what anything might be. The prices look outrageous. My plate was 29,000. But after the math I realize it is about $2.50 USD. I order anything and it turns out to be chow mein-esque with spicy spices that I do enjoy to the last speck.
That night I lay in bed looking at the ceiling as the good feelings of the walk dissipate leaving a huge and real sinking feeling that I have gotten my self in deep. Dread overruns me, fear holds me, uncertainty shivers inside me. I'm totally alone, in over my head, with a project I don't know how to make throughout several countries that I don't speak the language of... What the hell am I doing?
This emotion also passes and I imagine will return again and again throughout this journey.
More soon. Selamat Tahun Baru...