The people here are entirely generous, polite, & helpful when they find us travelers in need of direction & information. They will talk & walk with us for as long as we need without asking for a cent. Maybe it is completely out of their kindness, or maybe even to just practice their English (the ones who speak English here have a one-up in the job market), either way, I cherish these interactions.
The Indonesians love Obama!! Essentially it is because he once lived here in Java, but mostly because of his influence on the States. The Indonesians ask where we are from (it is of top priority to know this before anything else) & as soon as we say "USA" they are full of cheer and gratitude to meet us & yell "Oh YES! OBAMA!!" I'm not so sure they would have been so honored to meet us 1 1/2 year ago before Obama was in presidency.
We were told a very interesting story the other day that was extremely powerful & I will never forget. During one of our "interactions" with an English speaking Indonesian (who was a Batik Artist-incredible wax & dye cloth paintings) he was thrilled to hear we were from America & let us in a little secret. He was also a well-traveled individual taking his art world-wide & knew how people all over the world feel about the USA. He told us that people across the globe seriously anticipated & payed close attention to our last presidential election. The amazing part is that he told us that every person in Indonesia (& in other countries as well) stopped everything they were doing that day & prayed that Obama would win the election. "We stopped working, eating, driving, etc. to sit and send out our magnetic forces to your country. And it Worked!! We are all very excited your country is ready for change too." I was absolutely moved, it literally gave me goosebumps. Not only do many of us Americans understand how desperately we needed a change, but people all over the world stopped everything they were doing to help make it happen. Unbelievable! It is seriously powerful to know that people world-wide jumped for joy when Obama's name shouted victory on that very important day.
So far, our journey in Indo has included many Western tourists (mainly Europeans with a dash of Americans). Right now I am struggling with this mostly because our experiences in the last two months have been very intimate with the locals-they looked at us as a hot commodity who they were curious about, now were just another tourist. And that's the second reason why its hard for me, they make me feel like a tourist-not a traveler. I often find myself asking Matt if we can "go eat elsewhere" just to get away from it all. I've got a bit of the "I'm not here to see Westerners syndrome" & because of that I probably seem either a bit intimidating or just plain & simple unwelcoming, either way I will get over it soon... But I just have to get it off my chest that Europeans are almost as loud & obnoxious as Americans. Which almost makes me believe that the West represents quite an egocentric & unconscious state (-), & the East signifies silence, devotedness, & selflessness (+); without the two dualities this world would not be able to exits as a balanced being. I have to admit though, all of us tourists & travelers have one thing in common; we are all searching for something. Whether it be an adventure, God, art, culture, yoga, a good surf spot, or simply a change; we all left our homes of comfort to see exactly what it is this world has to offer.I am also being a bit over-dramatic about this solely because I've been stuck either on a bemo (van-type transportation) or a huge "tour"-ist bus for the past 2 days with the same white faces. And its all because we signed up for a package deal from Yogyakarta (Java) to Denpassar (Bali).
Traveling Indo is nothing like traveling the teensy-weensy islands of the Philippines-these islands are HUGE!! The longest trek in the Philippines was 5 hours (I thought that was exhausting); now this one was going on 48 hours-which makes Indonesia as a country, as an archipelago -intimidating. But every penny we spent on that package deal & all the time spent with the tourist was all worth it because of what I experienced at the crack of dawn a few days ago.
Bright & early, I mean, dark & early @ 3:30AM we rose from our slumber (& this typically ain't my bag) with intentions to see the sun rise over Mt. Bromo a.k.a. a very capable & active volcano. We layered up & as we headed out the doors I tried to convince myself it was too early for coffee, plus I should experience this on my own, without any help of substance. It was about an hour walk to & up the volcano; it was not the easiest of walks either at the butt crack of dawn. My motivation on the way up was the shear beauty of my surroundings & my motivation on the way back was muesli.
I can't really describe the magic that swept over my soul as I stood on the lip of the crater of lively Mt. Bromo. I'm not sure if it was the visual of looking down in a volcano as it spewed sulfury steam, or the vibrant green volcano standing beside Mt. Bromo, or the clouds that rolled over the surrounding mountains like a waterfall, or the transcendence of witnessing the sun RISE over such a surreal setting, something deep within my soul evolved. On top of the ultimate gratitude that swirled in my heart for such a heavenly place on Earth, I felt a deep longing for a change of living & it all seemed entirely possible. That day I made four invigorating goals for myself.
"Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep & permanent, in the ideas of living." -Miriam Beard