Wednesday, 4 August 2010

"Bump-Bump-Bumping Our Way to Madness - Day 3 of the Family Road Trip From H___!"

It wasn't long after we'd left our lovely little 'cottage-like' resort on the beach that we came to a fork in the road.  We slowed down to ask some locals which way we should go. They laughed (at us) then urged us on vaguely to the left.

We soon came upon a bumpy road...which soon became even bumpier.  A few minutes later despite being strapped into seat belts we began jolting about like human 'PopRocks'.  At this stage we were still laughing about how bad the road was.  

Sure our fortune was bound to change up ahead, the husband, regardless, was at least courteous enough to ask, "What do you think crew?  Should we turn around and take the other route?"

Oh, how I wish I hadn't been daydreaming, messing about in my handbag and generally being optimistic.  

Instead, no doubt subconsciously trying to make up for the sulky strop I'd had on the ferry boat the other day, and trying to prove myself a good sport, I had resolved to be more positive despite whatever discomforts traveling as a family of four brought on.  So I merely mumbled, pseudo-optimistically, "Whatever...we can do this."

Ten minutes later the road got so bad it ceased being laughable and turned diabolical.  We were going torturously slow and hard.  Now, the only thing that keeping us from turning back was the knowledge of the bad roads we'd have to traverse a second time round if we backtracked.  No way!  So we kept on, convinced at every turn (literally, for they were windy roads) that the huge pot holes, deep gouges, and great missing chunks of the so called road would eventually cease and we could once again drive in a sane fashion without jiggling ourselves into a state of dementia.

We pulled over for a break to recalibrate our frazzled nerves.  The road just wasn't getting any better.  In fact, though scarcely possible, it was getting worse.  But with no choice but to carry on, the husband resolved to kiss the first stretch of decent road we came to...if we ever came to penance for having made the earlier decision to go 'off the beaten track in Lombok' with his now less-than-impressed family.

No sooner had he made this pronouncement, when the car started rattling.

"Who left their door open?" he asked, pulling to a sharp stop.  He jumped out and had a look.  Nope, all doors securely fastened, everything a-okay except - wait a minute - oh bloody heck.

We had a flat.  A bad one.  How long we'd been driving on the rim was anyones guess.

"Check the other side!" I yelled to the husband.  Moments later our despair was complete.  The rear wheel on that side was kaput as well.

Two flat tires.  In the middle of nowhere.  Two hot, bored children with car sickness.  A spare tire in pretty bad shape.  And no tools with which to put it on in any case.

A few minutes later a father and son came whizzing by on scooter, balancing two giant glass doors between them.  At the sight of some flustered 'Bules' (ie. hapless tourists) at the side of the road, it was no surprise when they stopped.

Speaking no English, it was with some relief that another scooter ridden by two young men slowed to a stop soon after.  They spoke maybe six words of English between them.  

During the next half hour, various families stopped, hopped off their respective scooters and trucks and plonked themselves down beside us on the roadside.  Gestures, smiles and Oreo cookies were offered back and forth, but for all intents and purposes it very much felt like we were a tourist attraction.  Which we were I suppose.  How else to account for 'The Primitives' (this was one of the six words known by the young men, who attempted to explain the cluster of bedraggled natives peering out at us from the side of the hill top across the road), who stayed there the entire two and a half hours, still as statues, doing nothing but staring at us with undisguised curiosity.

Bless the husband.  Through pure perseverance, and no small measure of desperation, given that only a few hours of daylight remained and his family potentially faced a very hardcore night spent in a broken down vehicle at the side of the road in the middle of nowhere on some small island in Indonesia....he managed to set the wheels in motion for some sort of a rescue mission.

Under normal circumstances, the husband would have begged a ride on someones scooter, taken the two damaged wheels to the nearest mechanic, then come back and rescued us.  However, being in a remote area of a relatively un-touristed island, in  a Muslim country, already aware that I had way too much skin on show in my strapless mini sundress, and somewhat unnerved by the two young men especially, who kept eyeing me up and down, i hissed, "No bloody way...Don't even think about it!"  And there was certainly no way I was going to go off on the back of some strange man's scooter either, so...

So sit there we did.  Having experienced a fair bit of confusion given the language barrier and the 'helpfulness' of all the assembled onlookers, it was a small miracle that we managed to finally dispatch the father and son pair with both our punctured tires, heading, we hoped, towards a mechanic and not to the nearest local market to be sold for whatever they could get.

Somehow, in the fray, the husband handed over 50,000 Rp to the two young men with the wandering eyes, and not the father and son pair in possession of our tires. This did not bode well.  Some time later, perhaps an hour and a half in, the husband casually asked the pair, who refused to leave our side, despite having nothing to do, "So, did you give the money I gave you to the other man?"

The fellow looked solemnly at the husband.  "Money," he repeated lamely.

"No, I'm YOU have the money or does he?"

The fellow looked to the other man and they spoke in Bahasa.  Then he turned to the husband again and smiled.  "Money...yes."

And so it transpired that the wrong men were in possession of our money, and our fate was to be determined by the kindness of strangers.

Two and a half hours later, much to our relief (and surprise it has to be said), our wheels were returned, patched up and promptly put back on the car.  The husband broke out our sacred family sized bar of Cadbury's chocolate and to the great delight of everyone assembled, handed out celebratory pieces all round.

As we pulled away, so joyous were we that we barely registered the still shambolic roads and instead concentrated on the task at hand...finding a place to lay our heads that night....

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