Six Months Gone

Sign Says it AllI haven’t been writing much about Lake Toba lately for two reasons: one, I’m still recovering from my unfortunate encounter with the water buffalo and two, there really isn’t much to blog about when all you do is walk around, hang out with the locals, gossip, read, relax, talk some more, sing some songs and generally do nothing. But, I’ve got photos here from New Year’s Eve and the amazing rain shower yesterday, so you can check those out if you like.

I realized today that it’s been six months since I left home–Austin, to be exact–and a little more than three months since I left my job. I had a return flight from Singapore to Austin on December 24th, but clearly, I’m not ready to return. Bruised ribs aside, I feel great. The only adventure I’ve had in the last few days was the drive to Siantar, an hour north of here to get some cash.

I play and Mike and Ricky SingI needed some money. I was running low. I took the hour long ferry off the island to the mainland, walked to the ATM and it was out of money. the bank said it would be several days until it was refilled.

Annoyed, I sat down at a restaurant/coffee shop next door and complained about my poor luck. A local with good English overheard my mumbles of irritation and offered to take me to Siantar, a city about an hour north–for a price of course. He asked for ten dollars. But I told him it was too much for the risk:

“What if there is no money in Siantar? Now I have even less money.”

So, we agreed that I would pay $5 if there was no money and $10 if there was.

The drive was fantastic. We stopped on the roadside and fed the monkeys. Monkeys are just fucking cool! Anyone who can’t see we have a common ancestor with them is just blind. But I digress . . .

We drove past rubber plantations, palm oil plantations and banana plantations. Siantar was a dump, but still, I got my money. The driver taught me several local words–Batak words, not Indonesia, mind you and I can now count to ten in Batak and say, “I’m hungry” and “I want to swim.” How that is going to help me, I know not, but it was still one of those wild times when the cultural chasm that separates two men was bridged and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It also reminded me that I need to get off the backpacker trial much more often than I have and really mix with the locals.

Something I am going to do when I leave here in a few days.

As for being on the road so long, well sometimes I have guilty flashes, or premonitions about life in the ‘real world.’ Urges from civilization, I call them. As if something isn’t quite right–”call your father,” I think. “Why aren’t you at work?” “I need to get home.” Do something with my life.” To name just a few.

But, I am growing out of them slowly. I quickly remind myself:

“My father is fine. I’m not in high school anymore.”

“This is my job. Living life to its fullest.”

“Home? Where is home? And why hurry? What do I have to return to? A storage shed full of books and furniture from a broken marriage?”

“This is my life. And this, here, now, is what I am doing with it.”

This is pretty much my life right now and I’m loving it, as my friend Ricky would say.

And more is to come. I’ll be leaving Toba soon, heading back to Medan and then Malaysia to await my ship to India and beyond.

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