How to say good-bye to Indonesia

Four months, seven islands, some 6000 km, and some of the most incredible experiences on two wheels so far. Despite seeming a lot, they are virtually insignificant numbers for such a vast country. Seen on a map, it looks relatively small, but with its more than 17,000 islands, about 300 ethnic groups, more than 700 languages and dialects, the map is quite misleading. In only four months, one just can even begin to scratch the surface of such a giant of infinite natural and cultural wealth. 8 months would have been more appropriate, although 1 or 2 years would be the least to really get to know Indonesia. It captivates, it catches your deep attention, it enamors.

Each island left something deep inside. I think of Kalimantan and no matter where I am, I will start to sweat just for remembering its name, along with the millions of sounds of the jungle that will sweeten my memories. I think of Sulawesi and the adrenaline flows just by thinking that I crossed the heart of its jungle while playing Tarzan on a bicycle under some truly extreme conditions. I think of West Timor and the "gory" smiles of the siripina along with the friendly people living in the cute ume kebubus brings a smile to my face from ear to ear. I think of Flores and I instantly forget there is a world with flat roads and another color that is not green, and I will have the feeling that all that surrounds me can erupt at any time. I think of Bali and I prefer to forget it, since that place was expropriated from Indonesia and its people, it has nothing to do with this country. I think of Java and I can smell the aroma of the coffee while I remember the harshness of existence of those who give their life for pennies but never stop smiling and remind us that there is no reason to complain, you can be happy with very little. I think of Sumatra and I imagine the monkeys will take over the universe and I will yearn for the entire world had the beauty of its valleys and lakes.

I think of Indonesia and I think of the Indonesians, in the "Hello Mister" that echoed around us in an almost omnipresent way throughout our stay in the country. In just two words, they demonstrate the affection with which they receive and treat their guests. Without the Indonesians, Indonesia would not be the incredibly wonderful country that is. Whether they are Muslims, Protestants or Catholics, their unconditional affection, their protection, their help, their hospitality, their good mood, accompanied us to each place we visited. They made of the incredibly hard days spent pedaling in a country with such intricate geography and climate so rigorous, something much easier to deal with. Hand by hand with the simplicity of the people, comes Bahasa Indonesia (the official language). Bahasa Indonesia is perhaps the easiest language in the world. It was simple to learn it and by the end of our journey we were already able to communicate very well with people. we could speak it quite fluently and we were able to hold long conversations with our always curious hosts. As of today, I am voting for this language to be the new universal language.

There were a few bad moments, yes, but they quickly fade away in an ocean of wonderful experiences that enrich and comfort the soul. I do not miss, of course, to wake up almost all dawns at 4.30 am to the sound of the muezzins reciting the azan tune (call to prayer). I will not miss the fear of getting sick every single time I would get stung by a damn mosquito. I will not miss to see how a handful of corrupt politicians and unscrupulous business men abuse their own people while they annihilate the environment, although this is not a problem of Indonesia but of the entire world.

Indonesia is the true jewel of Southeast Asia, a country that is so large and extensive that it is safe from having been dominated entirely by the clutches of mass tourism. In Indonesia, the masses are all concentrated only in a handful of places that are like grains of salt in an infinite universe. Avoid those, and you have the whole country for yourself , 

All the expectations I had before arriving in Indonesia have not been only fulfilled but largely exceeded. Indonesia seized me and was able to amaze me in every corner. I am not saying goodbye to Indonesia because I will always seek to return. It was the first visit of the many I hope to accomplish during the rest of my life.