Thursday, January 15, 2009

There are few things as humbling as being a foreigner in a stranger's home. Everything seems just beyond your grasp. Just outside the familiar. In this alternative world, items take on a shadow-like appearance feigning the familiar until just before you use them. From the mundane (socket adapters) to the complex (hand bailing water into the toilets), the anxious uneasiness of asking a stranger in broken Indonesian to re-toilet train you can give even the most confident traveler reason to pause. Likewise, (albeit on a diminished scale) for the thousands of other things we take for granted when in the familiar surrounds of home. Knowing where the nearest grocery store is, having a command of the local lingua-franca, coming and going as you please or even just being able to drink the tap water (granted, a dubious task at home as well) without the fear of getting sick or worst.

I suppose that this is where I should wax poetically about the breaking down of barriers (psychologically as well as physically, literally and figuratively) but here too I must pause. Admittedly, there are few places I would rather be right now than here- writing from my bed, sticky from another day of wonderful equatorial experiences and sick with a slight cause of "Bali Belly" that I acquired several days prior. Such is the emotional ebb and flow of travel- wild highs intermersed with bouts of homesickness, frustrations and self-pity. Yet, I want to believe that that the lasting memories from this trip, the OMG! mind-blowing ones that turn strangers into life-long friends, come not from the highs and lows but in the subtle navigations of the waves in-between. A simple picture, a secret told in confidence, toil shared and the eventual revealing of flaws over the 60 plus days we'll be together.

Truth be told...we are only two-weeks into our trip and I miss them already.

Salamat Malam from Yogyakarta!


(written 1/13/09 @10:08 pm local time)

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