Sunday, September 9, 2007

August 19, 2007

The flight into the archipelago that is Indonesia is amazing: Islands rising through the clouds on the horizon, blue-blue water picked with dark green islands outlined by aqua marine bands, rice paddies, mountains.

When you step off the plane and into a cab, things change very quickly. A taxi ride through Makassar’s concrete interior is a wild ride through a virtual state of traffic anarchy. It is of utmost importance to be in front of the vehicle in front of you apparently, and risking the lives of your fares and all the worldly possessions they have is part of the deal. Meanwhile, the ubiquitous buzz of motorbikes is a constant criss-cross everywhere. We didn’t see any wrecks or wipe-outs (so far), so I suppose that’s good and a bit surprising. I couldn’t help but think the KATU Channel 2 News helicopter’s pilot would hardly have a chance to land for gas here. I wondered how motorbike drivers and their families of two or three survive. (I’ve only seen one amputee, by the way.)

That said, we found out it was going to be cheaper to ride a motorbike to work. We hired ojeks (oh-jekz) – motorcycle taxis -- and they weaved, honked and shouted Sarah’s and my way to school. Sarah have even considered actually renting a motorbike to get around. It is by far the most efficient way to travel. Strangely, enough coming from the land of one person per vehicle values, a motorbike is very often occupied by two or more people. They bring their infants along on those things. Bill, an Aussie we teach with, said we’d be fine if we drive like people are maniacs out to kill us and not like we’re in the States.

I guess that means we won’t get shot at, at least.

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