sweat prickles on chocolate sand – home.

It isn’t every day that you get to go on an adventure of a lifetime, and it certainly isn’t something that should be scoffed at if it does come up. But making the decision to leave your life, your goals, your support network, your language and your culture behind takes more than just a little thought for most people. And then for some of us, we say ‘fuck it,’ and we just dive in head first and hope we can swim.

I say, ‘fuck it,’ I’m a diver – and not a very good one at that. I jump straight into the deep end, I don’t squeeze my legs together enough or train properly or even plan my jump and thus I generally make an awkward shape and a pretty big splash. This time, here I am standing on the edge of the plank, with no hesitation, but I do have a little shiver. I’ve hit my head once before, and I don’t want to do that again.

I’ve just moved to a tiny fishing town in Indonesia. BK is a little town a very long drive from any of the big tourist destinations. It’s bound to have its challenges.

I flew out of Sydney on Monday the 21st of December, a long enough flight that makes you grateful to get out of that shoe box seat and stretch your legs. I landed in sweltering Bali late in the evening and as soon as I stepped out of the plane I knew that I was in wonderful tropical Asia as my skin beaded with sweat and my forehead began to prickle… I took a deep breath and passed through customs with my bag. There is something about customs that always makes me nervous. Especially in Asia… and I’m never carrying any sort of contraband, but regardless… I always feel like I’m doing something wrong and can only breathe easily again when I pass through those gates into freedom. Though in Bali it’s passing through the gates to being smacked in the face with hot sticky air and hundreds of people wanting to be your ride home…

Thankfully, Sophie and Decky were there to pick me up, but I waited long enough to buy my first packet of Kretek cigarettes, only to realise that the smokes I had bought were the size of cigars and tasted like lung cancer… perhaps not the best choice… I’ll have to learn the local brands better I think. Cigarettes given away and a quick drive to a friend’s gorgeous villa stopping only for a second hand Nokia and an Indo sim card, we got there, dragged the bag through the gates and collapsed. Three big glasses of gin and tonic with lots of ice, chatter and laughter and talk of their dengue fever and watching turtles swim in the pond. Before I knew it, Midnight had arrived and whispered to me an order to bed. It was time to get some well deserved rest.

Shower and bed, only to be woken rudely by my alarm at 4.50 am and roused slowly, showered, remembering not to open my mouth… (I’m trying to fend off Bali belly for as long as absolutely possible) I dressed and open the door – greeted by the heat and already feeling like I needed another shower by the time I’d lugged by bag to the guard post. How can it possibly be this hot at 5am? Bali was still asleep as I did the sunrise drive to the airport and then some hanging about until I boarded a little plane to Yogyakarta. Sleep found me again on the plane only to be woken then by a precarious landing… but we got there alive… and I was in my new home state Java.

Yogyakarta airport has an interesting system for delivering your baggage. It’s not a carousel. It’s a short runway for the bags and then a stop at the end, so the bags come down and just fall off into a pile whilst Indonesians scramble on top of each other to get their bags and the tourists stand around looking amazed and wondering how they are possibly going to get in there.

Out the door… more heat and a driver holding my name on a sign, it had a few extra A’s and S’s thrown in there, but I figured that it was probably the right guy. A man of little words, he gestured me to follow him and to wait while he collected the van. We loaded in and off we went I checked the time, 7.30am. ‘8 hours’ he said. Well, that’s longer than I thought, but what choice do I have? None… It’s time to get to my new home. So off we went… driving… it took a few hours to get out of the city but once we did I started to really relax. Little winding roads, very bumpy, but just gorgeous, there are no words to describe the incredible range of greens that this country has to offer. Rice paddies stretch out edged by other fields and coconut palms. Tiny towns with rainbow coloured houses and kids in headscarves riding bikes with four of their friends hanging off the back. An eight year old and his three young siblings drive a motorbike and wave as we pass through their town.

We stop for a drink and a cigarette and a visit to the local toilet block… back in the car… glimpses of the coast lined with palms and fishing boats and I know we must be getting closer. Besides a sore bum from the constant sitting the drive went without any hiccups and 8 long hours later at 3.30pm Java time, I saw the sign, BK, 2 km. This was it, I’m almost home. Cows grazing in a soccer field, grandparents sleeping in their little outside huts and mums and dads unravelling enormous fishing nets that stretch out like spider webs attached to coconut palms – this is my new town. My home. The butterflies in my stomach started again as we rounded another corner and discovered the most beautiful river I’ve ever seen, a deep turquoise blue lined with thick forests of palms… not like the cocopop-milk coloured rivers that I’ve seen in other parts of Asia – this river was stunning… this is my home…

Another couple of bridges and there is the coast. Light blue grey waves crashing against a chocolate coloured sandy shore… little fishing boats are beached here and children run with fishing scoops and rods up and down between their parents. Piles of silvery nets wait to be taken home and set right again. A stretch of sand and we stop. We chat as we weave through the tiny little streets that are more like sidewalks between the expanse of rice paddies and my eyes fill with imaginings of the possibilities of this place. Not far and we are home. A little white house amongst twenty or so coconut palms. Beautiful.

Inside cool green tiles invite you inside and a two coconut trees bearing large fruits grow through the roof, it’s perfect… it’s inspiring… it is so far from the townhouse in Brunswick in both location and spirit and honestly, I couldn’t be happier.

Home is where the heart is they say, and my heart is certainly here, so I must be home. I slept last night in my new bed listening to the sound of insects chirruping outside my window and watching light purple geckos crawl across the roof. I haven’t slept so well in weeks.

It’s good to finally be home.

One Response to “sweat prickles on chocolate sand – home.”
  1. Beautiful. I’ve closed my eyes and can hear the sound of waves and the quiet that comes with being out of the conjested life. I’ll be sure to put Indonesia on my wish list. Have a great year, can’t wait to read about your adventures there.

    Dawn (Grendel’s mom)

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