Hey guys! While I’m having an incredible time, it turns out the overland travel thing can also be really exhausting. Huge trips on rough roads on hot over crowded buses, sometimes with more bags of onions than human passengers, leaves you really tired. 6+ hours on hard floored ferries full of smokers, where you can barely find a clean space out of the sun to lay out your camp mattress (which deflates these days anyway, so provides little relief from the hardness of the metal floor); then just when you’re comfortable it starts raining and you have to relocate in a hurry and most passer-byers will stop to ask for a photo with you, all starts to take it’s toll. Your bum is so sore and you’ve started developing some weird pimples from all the sitting and sweating that it now part of your everyday life – will it ever look the same again?! Looking at a world map in some hotel lobby, leaves you feeling completely overwhelmed at the distance that lays ahead of you… How many more bus trips will that mean? Why am I doing this? What difference would a plane make anyway?
But yesterday I had a beautiful moment that reminded me why I’m doing this. It was a ferry day, and we’d managed to score seats at a table in the cafeteria. Actually it was the ferry between Lombok and Bali. And this time we weren’t the only ‘bules’ (foreigners) aboard, as our original seats became surrounded by beautiful brown Scandinavians in short-shorts, fresh off the ‘Gillies’… We felt more comfortable back in the caf with the locals. Anyway, the lady across the table from us offers us some of this bitter local fruit and we share some of our longans and mangosteens with her group. Her face reminds me of Ibu Yustina, from the village we stayed at in Manggarai, Western Flores. So I ask her, “Dari mana, bu?”, where are you from? A question the Indonesians usually ask you straight up – it’s pretty cool to get in first. Turns out she’s from Dompu, East Sumbawa. Wow! We know that place! We were there a week ago, staying with a local family. Actually there’s a whole bus load of people from Dompu sitting around us. They’re 2 days into their 4 day journey to Jakarta. Halfway mark for them. The simple fact of us knowing their city creates a bond. Respect. Us understanding what they’re doing. Listening to them explain that Sumbawa’s economy is the reason why they’re traveling to Jakarta for work, far from their families waiting at home. Explaining that the money they earn, they’ll be sending home. Connecting with these people. Sitting together in our combined tiredness. Just sharing the moment. Learning just one of the thousands of lessons that lie ahead. This is why I travel like this.