Going out with a Bang!
Our last days in the wonders of Indonesia have been spectacular. The Rally arrived at Belitung and was greeted by a huge celebration. Corresponding with the Rally was an export expo, massive cultural celebration topped off with what was to be a visit by the President of Indonesia. Well the Prez did a no show, the VP came but skipped the gala dinner, but the preparations, enthusiasm and celebration made his absence unimportant.
They transformed the beach into a beautiful stage and spectator area. The Expo was in a monstrous tent featuring goods produced in Indonesia. I made friends with the T shirt folks and got a great Furthur Adventure shirt made.
The decorations, the music, the benevolent military presence and the incredible transformation of the facility all made a very impressive sight. But nothing compared to the people. Thousands of people showed up, small venders, bus loads of kids, every kind of cop in the country. I even found the missing Khadafi, who is now—yes this is a real job—a Tourist Police. Not sure if his mission is to police us or to protect us but either way he was allot of fun.
Apparently they do not get allot of western visitors as we were treated like movie stars. Everywhere we went giggling kids, adults and many young girls would come up shyly and say “Hi misssssta, photo with me?” and i would pose with them as dozens of cameras and cell phones flashed away. I had this happen 20 times in one hour and conservatively 100 times in four days. It was fun! Many times they would introduce themselves and we would exchange names, I usually forgot their names as they are not common to me. Not the Indonesians, the next day I would hear my name called out as a beaming smile raced up to shake hands. The absolute open hearted, unconditional warmth they gave was humbling. Imagine a new race and foreign people arriving in the US and how they would be treated, humbling for sure.
note here, the Magnum bar costs about $1.60 in Indo, 3 times that in Australia.
As the day of the Prez (or non Prez) arrived five hundred Indonesian fishing boats arrived and this morning they did a drive by, a spectacular sight. We were restricted to our boats today as security for whoever showed up was tight. No worries as it rained most of the day. We enjoyed the boat parade and many came close to wave. Again I was blown away by the sleek designs and intricate paint jobs.
So our incredible stay in the land of Indonesia comes to an end. Speaking with many of the cruisers in the last few days, they all agree; the people of Indonesia are extraordinary. All told tales of honesty, friendship and warmth. Not one person had a bad story to tell.
Some of the people lived in primitive and barely sustainable conditions, dugout canoes, shacks and no modern amenities. Some live on the brink of the modern world with cell phones and motorbikes. None had anything like what we would call abundance yet they have abundance like we will never know. They laugh at all things, smile incessantly and give from their heart as a matter of practice not intention. The children tell the tale, smiling, inquisitive and joyous. We saw generosity not greed, offering not begging, curiosity not fear and love not hate.
I am already planning my return next year. I plan on joining the organizers of this rally for an Eastern Indonesia Rally and then back here. This is definitely a place to spend more time.
So again I find I am leaving a piece of my heart in a new strange land. I wonder if I keep leaving bits of my heart if I will run out. It appears not, the heart is like a Thorn of Crowns Star Fish, cut off a piece and it grows into a new creature, and yet the original star fish grows even larger. My heart is certainly larger as I leave these enchanting people.