27 Jun Friends in strange places
This is a non-pictoral post; random thoughts during a morning run.
“But you can stand outside and sweat,” said Ellen, my Dutch buddy who thought I was nuts. The looks from locals said the same. Even before 6am it’s sticky. But, running clears my head and grounds me. It’s also a way to feel control over your surroundings when everything is new. All you need are shoes and the will to get out of bed.
Since arriving in Java, I needed a bit of grounding. As I said before, Java is not like Bali: more people and fewer speak English. And, if you can believe it, it’s actually hotter. I stand and sweat. Blink: sweat. My clothes are in a constant state of wetness.
But as I ran along a somewhat quiet side street, I get a better sense of Java. It’s 6am and already the streets are busy. In the daytime you see a lot of tuk tuk drivers splayed out over the seats napping. The heat slows everything down. But, in the morning, people are busy mucking about getting their shops open, setting out their food in the roadside stalls. It’s energetic at this time of the day. Then, as I ran, I came to an epiphany, as I often do while running.
As I kept running, getting into a rhythm, jumping over giant holes and cracks in the side walk, I thought how this trip differs from my others: I am not alone. Yes, I came here alone, but from the get go, I have mostly been with new friends and old. Brisbane was staying a week with a Canadian friend, then shortly after, even when I got my camper van, I met up with friends-of-friends in Aussie. When I hiked, I chatted to other hikers and made plans: I had lunch with two girls and drank wine. I hiked with Marty from Sydney and listened to jazz while eating meat pies. I mountain biked with locals in Tasmania; I went to a bomb fire after the ride; and now, I am travelling with Ellen from Holland in Java.
I hate to admit this, but I do not want to travel alone again. Well, not never, but I now am ready to travel with others. For so many years, I loved the way people reacted when I said I’m alone: “Wow, you’re brave. You’re strong girl.” Maybe. I still love being alone: I can do anything when I want. And, I also still think you’ll meet more people when you travel alone because you’re forced to talk to someone instead of the person you’re with. But as I get older, I am learning to share. This isn’t something I am used to. Growing up mostly alone, I have always been used to wondering solo.
But as I type now, Ellen is sitting across from me also typing and doing her own thing. Ellen and I met in Bali and after a few days, went to pursue our own trips, then we decided to fly to Java together; we managed to arrange the same flight and met at the airport. The airport in Denpasar was endless lineups. After customs, I sat and waited for Ellen. When she walked up to me, smiling, familiar, it was the best feeling. I grabbed and hugged her.
When we roamed the streets, unable to find a taxi, sweating and tired, we laughed. We laughed when our tuk tuk driver slowed down on the hills, is he going backwards now? We laughed at the ice cream shop when the waitress didn’t understand our bill. All day. We laughed. I guess sharing is easy when you’re with the right people. Thanks Ellen.