Since last we spoke, I’ve sailed past 10,000 islands, stopped in at a handful and traveled by train, bicycle, plane, bus, donkey, moped, jeep, horse, Segway and elephant across the Indonesian Archipelago. My neglect for you is not due to contracting some rare tropical disease that seized me with night sweats and screams for my mother. I can’t even blame Indonesia’s patchy cell service or the all too frequent earthquakes that rippled through. No, my tardy tales are due to a deluge of stories, ones that make me wonder if I will be able to venture back into the real world once this around-the-world trip is done. How can I type them all, give each the word count it deserves?
To hold myself accountable for the adventures that must find your screen, I’ve amassed a chapter list that includes, but is not limited to;
• Racing a 500 kg Buffalo across swampy rice paddies.
• Flinching in the face of a Komodo dragon, its skewered tongue tasting me on the wind.
• Rubbing the back of a sea turtle and an orangutan in the same week.
• Staring into the eyes of a whale shark as it glides past, a finger length from impact.
• Rebuilding an earthquake-ravaged school.
• Squatting on the deck of an Indonesian squid boat to sort squid, fish and miscellaneous into their corresponding buckets.
• Riding horseback across an ashy desert to the base of a volcano then climbing the firebreathing mountain and looking into its eye.
• Rockhopping up a Buddhist temple that rivals the pyramids.
• Teaching English and soccer at a private Muslim school in Sumbawa.
• Buying a sword fresh from a backyard furnace.
• Picking coffee beans from mountain forests and grinding them down to powder with stone.
Each adventure is a story, one aching to be written. But for now, I’m writing to let you know that the page hasn’t been forgotten and neither have those minute details, like the timelines on an orangutan’s silken palm, the blaze of fire coral across skin, the girth of an eel exiting a cave embedded in a façade of fan coral, the oiled eyes of a child whose home is rubble, whose school is rubble, and the smile of a child whose home is rubble, whose school is ruble. Did you know dolphins dance to music, pirouetting in the bow waves of a sailboat, the babies, magnets at their mother’s side?
Stay tuned. Next stop is a buffalo race in Sumbawa. If you can ride a pair of water skis and don’t get queasy when falling into a swamp of manure, then this sport is for you.
Thanks for reading.