It’s been more challenging than I expected to start writing about Java. The difficulty is not that I can’t find anything to say. This is a place so wildly different from everywhere I have experienced before. There is so much to notice and so much on my mind all of the time that finding a place to begin is like choosing where to cast your fishing line in the ocean. I suppose you just cast it out and hope you don’t hook something under the surface that’s too big for you to reel in.
Perhaps a snapshot is a good place to start. Perhaps beginning with a small picture and working my way outward I can find a way to write about this colorful, colorful place.
Last Saturday morning the girls and I rode a public transport van to the city. We needed to buy something small for the house that I heard might be in a little stall shop along the main city street. Norah had been feeling a little unwell but she seemed to have recovered, so it was flip-flops for everyone and we set off. The little van takes you roughly to the area you want but from there you’re on foot so we picked our way amongst the throng of people and motorcycles along the busiest street in town for quite a while before we found the shop we were looking for. The highlight of our walk was when Mommy suddenly remembered where to find the only stall in town that sells fresh cut flowers. We bargained for an armful of gladiolas to bring our new neighbors. I say “bargained” but let’s face it: in the end I probably had to pay at least double for being a foreigner. The low point was passing the fish sellers. It was a hot day. Enough said.
Just after the Fish Area Norah suddenly tugged on my arm. “I don’t feel good,” she said. All the color seemed to have left her face at once. After the hour it took us to get there our visit to the little store lasted three minutes. I grabbed what we needed, paid, and we left again. I didn’t think Norah could manage the walking and waiting involved in riding the transport vans, but there was another way. Our town is one of reportedly few towns in Indonesia that have dokar: horse-drawn carts. We were able to find one quickly and we climbed in, arms full of flowers and me wondering which way to point Norah if she needed to get sick in the English sense.
You know what? We all enjoyed that ride home, even Norah. We held our flowers and peered out into the sunshine and smiled at all the people staring at us and talked about how colorful Indonesia is. The horse trotted right along with all the motorcycles and carts and trucks and cars and we listened the clip clop of its hooves and watched the feathers waving on its headdress.