We don’t have a vehicle here in Indonesia. While the kids are eager to try their hands at the ubiquitous motos or scooters, we aren’t sure that will actually work out for them without a valid US drivers’ license first. Time will tell.
Beyond the switch from American roads and driving on the right-hand side to driving on the left-hand side, and the very different driving styles/rules here in Indonesia, there’s also risk. What if we caused an accident? How might that affect our time and eventual work in Indonesia? I’d rather not find out. So we get places either by walking – if it’s a short distance and not pouring down rain or incredibly hot/humid – or by Grab, an Indonesian version of Uber. The cost – like most things in Indonesia – is a fraction of costs in the US, and rides are rarely $2 to most anywhere we need to go. When you think about insurance costs, maintenance costs, gas costs, and of course repairs, opting to utilize this service can be just as economical – or more so – than owning a vehicle in the states!
But, there are of course trade-offs in riding in someone else’s vehicle.
Tonight most of us were on our way to get dinner. The Muslim holy days of Eid-al-Fitr are this Monday through Wednesday and many, many places of business are closed as Muslims either welcome friends and family from afar or journey themselves to gather with friends and family outside the city. But we were anxious to get out of the house and so scheduled a Grab ride.
Dusk was giving way to night as we climbed into the car and started off. It wasn’t a long ride, but about half-way there I became aware of something not quite right. Gena and I were seated in the back seat and Mika and Caedmon were seated in the very back row behind us (Alec was home recovering from a mild cold). And they were distressed.
I heard a strange noise behind me but wasn’t sure what it was. When I turned around, both Mika and Caedmon were leaning as far forward toward or into our seats as possible. Apparently, they were sharing the ride with a rather large insect. Some sort of beetle. Or something. Something large, and something that could fly and something that wanted out. I could hear it buzzing loudly and urgently from somewhere behind them, but I couldn’t make out what it was – or where it was.
We arrived at the restaurant only to find it closed. The driver was concerned for us and asked us what we wanted to do. His broken English and our beginning bahasa Indonesia allowed us to communicate adequately. To me it was pretty clear he needed to take us back home and I was trying to figure out how to pay him cash for that service rather than re-schedule another driver. He was offering to take us other places where restaurants were more likely to be open.
Suddenly Gena’s voice sounded very clear. Thank you very much, but we’re just going to get out here. Although the driver was confused and a bit bewildered, we communicated the basics. As we exited, Mika and Caedmon nearly shot out of the back seat. A mother’s wisdom on display. While we could have gotten home more quickly with this driver, the kids were not in the state of mind to ride back with the insectoid passenger buzzing around behind them!
We were able to walk a few blocks to a small restaurant Gena had noticed on our ride that appeared open. The kids much preferred the open air and the risk of possible run-ins with mosquitos and rats to the definite shared presence of their insect buddy. God is good, and we try to stay flexible and laugh about things for the most part. An insignificant story but one we’ll likely keep laughing about for some years to come!