The plan, over two weeks in the making, was for my buddy Michelle and I to visit Mt. Bromo with our respective principals so that we may experience the most famous sunrise in Indonesia. Michelle was skeptical, given the general nature of “plans” in this archipalego and I was in outer space with other thoughts, as per usual, but optimistic things would work out. Thus far, my principal has been, to quote the great M.C., “a man of action.” Last Saturday, principal Ali came through once again.
Our foursome quickly became an eleven-some though when six other teachers from Michelle’s school joined the exhibition. We also had a welcome surprise guest by the name of Shane, a fellow volunteer who lives near Bromo. On the ride up, Michelle mentioned that she felt I had an ‘edge’ about me, which I found humorous, as I didn’t really feel any different than the last time we’d met. After a couple of days being able to speak freely, joke and run around unencumbered by the constraints of my usual, daily life though, I realize how pent up I had been. It really was a relief to step out and be myself again, if only for a spell.
The first thing I noticed about Mt. Bromo after the slow
crawl of a drive up was that it was decidedly un-Indonesian in both appearance and climate. It’s not freezing, but cold enough for a jacket (and gloves, a beanie and a scarf, if you are Indonesian). At some point I commented to Shane that I felt as as though we were visiting Peru instead of another town in Indo and he said that the comparison is quite common. People kinda looked different, partly
attributed to style, but also in facial appearance, or maybe that was just my imagination. Another distinguishing trait, whereas most Indonesians are Muslim, if not in practice then at least by name, Mt. Bromo’s residents are predominantly Hindus with a dusting of Christians and Muslims thrown in for good measure. It being one of Indonesia’s most popular tourist destinations also made it feel a bit more buttoned down, which I greatly appreciated since I live in a more structured, religious
Not long after we arrived, we went to a house/restaurant down the road from our inn for dinner. We opened the meal with ginger coffee, tea and piles of pisang goreng (fried bananas). I had about 6 of those, though Shane went above and beyond the call of duty with 7 or 8. Our main course was the ubiquitous nasi goreng (friend rice), which we all enjoyed immensely. Shane and Michelle mentioned that is was one of the tastier batches they’ve had. After filling up on food, we went back to the lodgings for a little R&R, but I wasn’t going to sleep until I tried the infamous Mt. Bromo mandi (bath). To call it chilly would be an insult. As much as I liked Bromo and the surrounding area, I don’t envy Shane having to deal with that frigid water on a regular basis.
We woke up at 3am the next morning for a very full, fun, exhausting day of activity.
It was both the shortest and longest two day holiday I’ve had in some time, but it was very much needed and I’m happy it all worked out. To Michelle and Shane (and everyone else involved in making this happen), thank you for the break from reality!
*If your interested, here is a wiki link to Mt. Bromo:(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Bromo)