Location: The Lagundri Horseshoe Bay, Palau Nias Island, Sumatra, Indonesia
I stopped smiling for a good 40 hours on this trip. It must have been a combination of having to leave the beautiful island of Danua Toba (OK, “having to” is a little much – I am a tourist of my own volition), couple that with a nightmarish 7 hour bus ride from Parapat to Sibolga (the minibus would tease me with extremes from having my own row to sharing it with 3 women, 2 children, and a sack of cabbage), from Sibolga I took a ferry to the island of Nias which I thought was 4 hours away but turned out to be 12 hours by overnight boat (I was confused when the ticket man held up the number 12 – I thought he meant we’d get there at midnight he meant it would take 12 hours) – the overnight ferry’s sleeping quarters consisted of 140 ping pong table like floor squares where we all slept on the boards. No pillows, no nothing – just exhaustion – luckily when you are on a 12 hour journey if you start sleeping right away you might get 6 hours of good winks. Upon arrival in Nias, I was told that because it was Sunday and 95% of the island is Christian, the buses don’t run and it would cost me an Indonesian arm and a leg (but the European equivalent of a fingernail) to get to the paradaisical surf spot of Lagundri three hours south. Long story short I almost got into a fist fight with the 18 year old bus driver who refused to turn down the bumping bass on his crappy minibus stereo. I have become resolved to the fact that Indonesians don’t understand a single word I am saying so I don’t argue too much, but when I point to the 3 month old baby in the minibus who is sitting next to the speaker blaring “Living on a Prayer” with the bass turned up to 11 (BTW, who even knew there was a bass player in Bon Jovi?) and then demonstrating that the baby’s head would explode from the noise I expect people to listen. Needless to say the young punk did not listen and even demonstrated some good English when he told me to “Shut up”. I put my fingers on my ears and endured for the next three hours. By the end of the trip the whole bus load was complaining about the music and I am sure the youngin’ got an earful. One of the soulful moments of that bus ride was in the few instertitials of silence between blaring “Winds of Change” and “Welcome to the Jungle” and young woman would sing a sweet Indonesian song that calmed the air. They are very musical here. I had no idea. Guitars everywhere and women singing sweet songs all the time. On the bus from Sibolga, my neighbor sang continuously with an angelic voice for nearly all 6 hours. I will not let a young punk who thinks Bon Jovi is cool ruin my idea of Indonesian musical skill.