Hit Hand, Bike Down, Razor blade.
Driving in Indonesia is growing on me. I no longer get knots in my stomach anticipating it. However, my driving skills are changing. If you were to be my passenger you would note that my hand is always resting on the horn. Ready to peep at most vehicles or motor cycles that I am passing or to tell vehicles that they are driving way to close to me or 2 dozen other reasons. I probably honk the horn 10 to 20 times a trip into town. In America I probably honked that much once a year. I am also becoming a very vocal driver. You can hear me gripping at the taxi driver for pulling right in front of me, or telling off the motor cycle driver that decided to pass me on the right hand side while I am trying to turn right. Of course none of them can hear me….but my passengers can! The other thing I have learned is to always be on the defense, on the guard for everything and everyone else around me.
When I first started to drive here, it took me a while to judge the distance to the left side. We were constantly hitting the tall grasses. I knew I had to figure it out quick when I hit a man’s hand who was walking in the road. Opps! So after that I rapidly obtained left sided perception (driver sits on the right).
One day when we were going swimming and a drunk man stepped right out in front of our car, blocking our way up the street. I stepped on the gas lightly and he held his ground. I went to call him to my window so I could try to ……hmmm? who knows what I was thinking? when a woman coaxed him to the side of the street. Then he simply gave us a silly grin and the thumbs up signal.
Shortly after I started driving I was coming back home and put my indicator on to turn into aviation complex. As I turned right a motor cycle tried to pass me on the right. The lady driver ended up having to turn very sharp and the bike slid out from under her. She was fine, but it was very unnerving to me. Now every time I go to turn into aviation….I make sure no motor cycles are getting ready to pass.
Going to the market several weeks ago the parking attendant had me back into a tight spot. I had to pull forward and back several times to wiggle into the spot. On one of my pulls forward I came a little to close to a parked motorcycle and in order for it not to tip over the attendant had to hold the bike up. Of course all the beetle nut chewing men were hooping at me. Necks craned to see the latest drama of the white girl at the market. The drama continued after I was done shopping, a truck was parked in front of me…..blocking my exit. At last a man took sympathy on my situation and started helping me wiggle in and out of that insane parking space. At one point the metal on my car was right up against the metal on the truck. I wiggled back and forth holding up traffic for at least 5 minutes. Did I say that our car has only manual stirring????! I have no idea how many eyes watched me struggle. And seemed to take great pleasure in it!
I’ve enclosed some of the pictures of the road on the way to the beach. The bridge and the lack of bridge. We still don’t have all the legal papers to be driving. One thing for sure it is not boring. As Bryan Gallant in Bandung says, “Who needs video games, when you can drive in Indonesia? It’s like one huge video game.”
Last week I had to run to the ATM for money. It was early in the morning. So I ended up going to the only ATM in town that was open and there was yet no guard. 2 hours later upon returning home, as soon as we stepped out of the vehicle the children and I heard air started to leak out of the back tire. To make a long story short a long razor blade was in my tire. It is known that when vulnerable people go to ATM’s that a razor is placed in the tire. Then help is offered and money stolen. With great blessings, the blade did not pierce my tire until I was safely home. At home the aviation staff speedily repaired my tire.
So from hitting a hand, to a bike laying down, to razor blades and many unknown adventure yet to be had…..driving in Indonesia is colorful and a prayerful experience. I’m not sure I will miss this part of Indonesia when our mission term is all over, but in the mean time, I’m going to try and make the best of it. Thanks for reading and praying!