A throwback to December, 2013. Initial thoughts upon arriving in Indonesia.
Mangroves and Water Chops
Going from Batam to the island we were were visiting in Indonesia was an eye-opening experience. The tiny motor boat was quite different than I was expecting. It was like my father-in-law’s boat in which we fish at White Face. It seemed that the pilot didn’t take the direct route from Batam to the island, though I cannot confirm this observation. It looked to me that he was taking the route that had the best views of Indo. He showed us the largest ships, the mountainous islands, the most intricate net structures of fishermen, the delicately detailed roots of the mangroves that kept their trees from touching the ocean. It was a fascinating ride.I saw islands springing out of the water like thousands of moles on an otherwise perfect complexion. Moles that were hairy with trees or so grotesquely misshaped that one should really consult one’s doctor about the high probability of skin cancer.
The second thing I noticed was the boater’s seamless ability to navigate the waters. In the hour and a half I rode with him, I was splashed once. Maybe twice. He knew just how to ride the choppy waves to make them work for him. He used them to propel us at breakneck speeds down the channels formed by cancer-ridden moles.
He also drove in tandem with other boaters. Stoney faced, and barely a glance, he would twitch his wrist just enough to avoid catastrophic collisions. The others seemed to hardly notice him, too. It reminded me of a dance. So fluid were the movements – so innately known – that the artists needed no leader. They saw, calculated, adjusted the rudder, and continued the dance. No toe stamping on this dance floor.
The trees I saw looked like a 17th century lady lifting her skirt and screaming to avoid a mouse running up her dress. The canopy of the tree searched the water wide-eyed, hoping beyond hope that the mouse wouldn’t return. There were sometimes clusters of these trees which only enhanced the perception of dainty ladies screeching from fear of nasty little rodents. When they were alone, like the one below, I felt sorry that she didn’t have a man to come kill the spider for her, or chase away the rats of the night. I later learned that the mangrove is home to hundreds of species of creepy-crawlies, so my initial assessment was completely erroneous.
Soon we arrived at the village in question. Our sore backs and jet-lagged eyes were not prepared for the cultural experiences waiting for us that evening.