Just a quick note.  These are not posted in real time unfortunately, as we have just gotten wireless at the retreat facility and it is quirky at best, so I’m bit backlogged….  Hopefully, I’ll catch up at some point. 🙂

Tuesday Sept 28
I traveled to downtown Bogor today with my new friend, Vivian.  It was definitely a lesson in trust, faith and how to communicate (without the actual use of LANGUAGE.)  I think we failed and succeeded in equal measure.

To get to Bogor, you take a little van, like a shared taxi except stuffed to the brim.  In order to discover how to do this, we essentially stood in the rain waiting for a van that said BOGOR on it, which none did so then we just flagged one down and got it.

Let me first say this – the driving here is harrowing.  I was sitting in the van across from an opened door and kept imagining myself being hurled to my death.  I mean, I’m one of those New Yorkers who gets tossed around in the subway, I am terrified if I don’t have something to hold on to.  I will fall over and often do, so the idea that I could be thrown from a vehicle weaving in and out of traffic, driving on the wrong side of the road and sometimes on the sidewalk, is NOT out of the question.

So shocking as this sounds, I do not speak Indonesian.  I know. You are appalled.  Everyone speaks Indonesian these days….  But alas, I’m behind the curve… 😉  And equally shocking is that not every Indonesian speaks English.  Certainly not our “cab drivers” – I’m pretty sure that there is a real word for these vans but I as yet have not found it out.

My point is that communication is tricky at best.  There is a lot of pointing and miming and people shaking their heads saying they don’t understand.  Well, that’s what’s happening on our end, the Indonesians could be saying something else, but I’m pretty sure I’ll never know…

So we get into one of these rickity vans that we hoped was going where we were going.  And yet, of course, we don’t exactly know where it is that we want to go. And no one in the van speaks English, so we can’t be sure that they understand what we are saying, we only know that we don’t know what they are saying.
Part of this is terrifying but part of it is thrilling. because we are all in this together. We don’t understand each other’s words but we all just trust that it will all work out. Kinda beautiful, really.  Scary. Beautiful.

What I found most interesting about today’s journey/excursion was the dare and fearlessness of the people in cars, whole families on motorbikes, and pedestrians crossing the street.   There don’t seem to be any traffic rules other than ‘don’t get into an accident’.  It’s like a chaotic school of fish.  They seem to know how to maneuver together.  Vivian, who lives in Vietnam, gave me two pieces of advice for crossing a street in which the cars never stop coming….   1. Don’t run.  If you change your speed it is harder for the drivers to drive around you.  2. Take a deep breath, close your eyes and just walk.

While under normal circumstances, that would seem crazy to me,  I didn’t see much of an option if I wanted to get to the other side.  AND  I figured that it would be a major inconvenience to the drivers if they actually hit me… so…  I took a deep breath (but I kept my eyes open) and slowly started to walk across the street, blessing the cars as they were coming… And then I saw Vivian dash ahead of me.   I said,”I thought you told me not to run” She said, “Yes, that’s what my Vietnamese friends tell me to do.  But I can never do it. ”

Ha.  Life Lessons in Bogor, Indonesia.