I have undergone an Indonesian rite of passage. It’s not circumcision. (I’m not a twelve year old boy.) It’s not leaping over a large rock. (I’m not from Nias.) It’s not sexual promiscuity. (That’s Samoa, not
Remembering how miserable the trip to
Mistake! As I sat in the airport for over five hours, waiting for my delayed plane, I rifled through my Lonely Planet again and realized, with a sinking feeling, that Surabaya is not three hours from Semarang, as I thought, but, depending on who you ask and what you ride, either five, seven, or nine agonizing hours.
I ran downstairs to the ticket offices, hoping to find a flight from
After much questioning in the
Once at the bus station, though, I learned that, first, there were no luxury buses to
I changed my plans again, wandering around the bus station until I found a guy with a motorcycle willing, for a price, to give me a ride to the train station. I balanced precariously, for about forty-five minutes, on the back of his motorcycle, clutching my bags tightly less they fall, and me with them, into Saturday night traffic in
I’ve simplified the story somewhat, but in any case, this was a trial by fire: an epic journey, the kind that could only work because I can speak (some of) the language, and, therefore, successfully ask people for directions/rides/to stop staring and get the hell away from me, and I feel inordinate amounts of pride in having accomplished it. What’s more, I survived the whole trip without breaking down in the airport and paying $7 for People Magazine, without losing the Zen calm I’ve been practicing, and, what’s even more impressive, without breaking Lent and eating any of the chocolate I so desperately wanted. Now that’s real maturity. Give me the tattoos, driver’s license, alcohol, or whatever this culture uses to mark entry into society: I have passed the test. I have fought the good fight. I have come of age.