Friday, January 04, 2019

Travel Log: Indonesia Day 3

Dec 19th, 2018

Today I was reminded the importance of The Moment. In specific, being in the moment and enjoying where you are when you are there. Especially as nowadays I feel constantly on the go at my job, jumping from one thing to the next. Sometimes I feel like I have to go through a checklist of places. You go, you see, you go on to the next one. Almost like a competition to see how many places you can add to your belt. With this trip, I'm trying really hard to linger. While it has been challenging for me, I have been rewarded so far with great people and experiences.

This morning, my new friend Ekky told me that one of Nuu's friends was available to show me a waterfall. After a slow morning of breakfast and chatting, we made our way to the meeting point where Nazar met us with his motorcycle. By now I am feeling more comfortable on the back of a bike, which was good as it took at least 45 mins to get there. My tall legs proved a problem as I had to keep them in a cramped position as we rode. I felt like a crab with her claws forced up against my shell.

The last leg of the journey was along the side of a steep, forested hill. The trail was only a foot wide in some spots and the drop was far. I definitely pictured falling to my death... When we finally arrived at the mini parking lot, I was so happy to stand on my own and dreaded the thought of returning to the bike for both reasons.
Along the base of the valley. Two of our
young guide-friends.

But before that the waterfall. We made our way down the winding trail to the bottom of the valley. We could hear the roar of the water (and some very vocal insects) before we saw the river open before us. We were at the base of the valley and the foliage was thick on either side. As we followed the river around a bend, we saw a thin bamboo bridge maybe 4 beams wide.

As we started to cross the bridge, I noticed a group of 8 young boys jumping into the water near the base of the falls some 50 meters up stream. A couple were definitely naked. They saw us from a distance and I pretended I hadn't noticed yet by turning more to the right while they ran for some clothes. I was surprised to see a couple smoking as we approached through the remaining trail. The youngest looked like he was 5 or 6 and the oldest no older than 11, maybe 12. By now I've been told that smoking is a large part of Indonesian culture. In many rural parts especially, families pass down blends from father to son. Despite government efforts to discourage smoking, it's not going anywhere. Ekky even told me that when faced with the choice, many of her friends would buy a pack of cigarettes over food when money is tight. But it's one thing to hear this and another to see a group of kids younger than my own students lighting up.
The falls, Coban Jidor.
Large rocks encroached the river near the base of the waterfall, making a mini-pool and a small rapid-slide. A great spot for jumping around on a warm morning. The water was cold and smelled like clay, but refreshing after the hot journey on the back of the motor bike. At first, I was only going to dip my feet in, but the boys kept staring at me and I could tell some were shy. I wanted to make them comfortable, or at least make them see me as a regular human and not just a foreigner with light eyes and skin. A couple were casually tossing stones at stacks near the base of the waterfall so I joined in. With a lucky shot, I knocked over a tower and the competition began with us scrambling for more stones to throw. When the towers were all collapsed, the only thing left was to jump into the pool. In shorts and a t-shirt, I wasn't prepared to swim, but with most of the boys in their underwear, I guess I blended in.

As the sun moved overhead and the valley became eclipsed in shade, we made our way out. A day well spent with moments to remember. I enjoyed the ride back along rural roads (and luckily the way out was not along the same narrow hill face as the road in!). The cities get so congested that it was nice to see what life is like on the outskirts. Plus the landscapes are beautiful.
Our gang of new friends.
I'm glad we lingered. I'm glad that it was more than just a photo-opt and that we made a connection, if small, with those boys.

Love and Hugs

My friend put together a mini video with some of the moments. Feel free to check it out:

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