Here is some random Indonesian pondering.
I mentioned this before but the driving system here is random at best. There is an order and it did not take long to figure out but the free flowing system is not very comfortable for us stick up our butt North Americans. The motor bikes flow like water in between and around the cars. The cars flow like oil over the pavement, markings only indicate the center of the road. A couple of things have struck me. One is a comparison of the horn use from 30 years ago. It has diminished greatly. Only 20 or 30 toots per 15 minute cab ride and the cacophony of noise when we are in the hotel has been reduced to single audible beeps. Funny enough the horns still talk. Each beep has a meaning and everyone around seems to know what it means. “Hey, look out I’m right behind you”, “I’m passing on the right”, “Hi Bob”, “I have my signal on but here’s a warning I am going to make a right hand turn”. All of these and more messages are passed on by a single short toot on the horn. The other thing is in all this madness the drivers have infinite patience. Vehicles cut off others, make random right turns, squeeze their way into traffic and the others around just wait patiently. None of the actions solicits a blast on the horn as it would in NA.
I went for a walk in the hood. We had some time to kill in Sorong and I’m not real good at sitting being idle. A few feet from the entrance to the hotel we were spending time at is an entrance to a residential neighbourhood. Off I go camera in hand. Some people don’t like to do this but I still believe the majority of the world’s population are good people and unless I do something really stupid I am in little danger. Being somewhat lighter skinned than the locals I am in instant celebrity. Not more than 100M down the walk and I am accosted by a group of youngsters wanting me to take their picture. Of course I oblige. They gather up arms around shoulders like a team photo. I snap the shot and show them the picture. It elicits huge smiles and a hardy round of laughter. This happens 5 or 6 times in the hour I’m outside.
It also develops into the older folks wanting me to pose with them while their buddies take pics of me on their IPhones. I get back to the hotel and while we sit by the pool there are a couple of vacationing kids that think it is a good idea for them to have a digital record of the white folks they observed on the pool deck. So our two friends, Debbie and I all take our turn at being congenial and smiling for a few photos with our new found fans.
On that walkabout I was next to a mosque when the time came for the Mu’azzin to call the faithful to prayer. We have been here for more than a week now and the sound is beginning to infiltrate my being. The call in Indonesia is a little different than other Muslim countries. I have heard it before elsewhere but it does not have the same haunting quality. If history is any indication these sounds will remain with me for a long time.
Diving begins anew tomorrow off the island of Bunaken where we are located for the next four nights.