Notes toward Indonesia
Indonesia's lush greenery and rain remind me of--no wait, Surya is here to pick me up and take me to the hostel. After he pays off the baggage officials who say I need to present them with a form I've never been given, says "welcome to the jungle" in explanation, leads me across the dark, humid, hot parking lot to his tiny red stick shift car, and drives me in the 3am desertion the 45 minutes through Jakarta to the hostel, he says, "I am very happy to meet you because you are real American woman. Like American Pie movie!"
Next he says, "I was in Jogya with an Italian guest and he thought the girl who fucked him for 3 hours for fifty bucks was so beautiful. I thought she was ugly like a duck. Black skin, big lips like a black person, and he was done and said I could go but I said no. she could be naked in front of me and really I am not horny.
"my wife's breasts now are too small because now 1, 2, 3, 4 of my children has used them so they"--he makes a gooey melting motion with the hand that's not on the steering wheel--"this is why I say have fun when you are young."
Bobby in the back of the car is in a frog position because he is tall, Surya's tiny car leaks, and the floor is puddling.
A british guy points to the floor of the waiting area. "Better watch yourself", he says: there's puke. Managed only to see Jakarta at night, then during the monsoon. Bobby and his forays into the Korean public baths, the black actors who take him home. Next to the bathroom a praying room, windowless with mats. He shaves his legs now because all Korean men do at the gym. "Korea tends to become obsessed," he says. "People dream about speking English. They have camps to recover from video-game addiction., to kick the habit down to 5 from 19 hours a day Someone died recently after spending 54 hours playing without stopping. Most of the women have had plastic surgery. Korea has the highest suicide rate in Asia."
Tbe warm air, the white sunless sky, the deluge of rain. The men look women up and down. "That's Bali, man," says the doll faced guy on the pink motorbike who almost hit someone, driving insanely fast for no reason, me with no helmet, losing Bobby on his friend's motorbike in the maze of dark alleys and bright booths that tourist traps human ants in Kuta. If it were driftwood I would go swimming but it's as though dumsters emptied on the shore. Large trees with such sexual curves there's no visual angle to them. silver fish stuccoing the beach. "A population stretched to capacity" is how Greg put it after he'd lived in Indonesia for a couple months. The most densely populated city in the world, Jakarta.
Bobby and I ride elephants on Christmas. We made up our own carol: "ten bad waiters, nine tummy rumbles..um…two hangovers, and an elephant that was peeing. I took off my yellow flip flops to put my bare feet on her wrinkled, warm skin.
Saaya was the only lady elephant rider. She was lovely. She had many hairs on her chin. She was the only lady rider on the only lady elephant, Petri. Petri is 42. She has children in Sumatra. Saaya has been with only Petri every day. "She understands," she says simply. Saaya crouches on Petri's neck like a crap, whacking her with a stick when she stops to eat what Saaya thinks is too often. Saaya works for her sister's tuition. Or so she tells us. I've never been good at being suspicious, though. Close up the elephants eyes are intelligent and I keep thinking of pictures of anteaters.
Wake up at dawn. Hear voices so close and realize that outside the screen window they must be washing towels.
When the people disappear, during the deluge, that's when we go walking on the beach. The next day is bright and so windy that the ocean turns over and over like rolls of quarters.
Flowers like a brighter world is bleeding into this one through small cuts.