Well for many people around my good ole hometown of Flagstaff you can’t say the word Sumatra without immediately thinking coffee. In fact I would go to say that there are probably some people who can ascribe to the quality and undertones of an organic sumatra coffee before they could tell where Sumatra is on the map. And, in fact, last year to be honest, I was probably the same. I couldn’t tell you that it is in the largest Muslim democracy and country in the world. That it is North of Java and has the worlds largest volcano crater lake in a caldera known to be responsible for the last ice age. That the Batak people group is primarily Christian and also very musically talented. That there are at least three people groups and as many languages on the Island of Sumatra alone (probably many more I just came into contact with three personally). I also didn’t know that coffee would grow here almost like a weed on the side of the road along with cacao, chili, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves and any other delicious delicacy you can imagine.
I also definitely couldn’t tell you that a Sumatra tropical storm is like the presence of God, or that hammocks are as inspiring as Steinbeck or C.S. Lewis. That sleeping under a mosquito net in the moonlight with the sound of the Andaman sea is more romantic than rose pedals and Sinatra.
Basically what I’m saying is that the last two weeks of our trip were magical. Everything seemed to just fit. It seemed that the four of us got into a good rhythm of travel with each other and learned what type of space and freedom we needed. In some ways another month would have been great as we seemed to really fit together while we were in Indonesia. Even when our ferry off the island broke down and sent a domino affect of missed flights through our itinerary we seemed to just flow with it.
Though the activities of our time spent were amazing, (snorkeling with lion fish, diving with sharks, picking coffee with local farmers, climbing volcanoes, swimming with sea turtles, driving motor bikes, buying art from inspiring artists….) I personally am left more with a feeling or emotion than vivid memories. I guess it’s probably gratitude. Mostly towards Eric, Michael and Melissa. Honestly traveling with four people for four + or – months was unheard of, we didn’t meet a group like ourselves once, and we met a lot of peeps. Obviously sometimes it sucked, just to be honest, and in the end we annoyed each other like family. Which I think is great. We bickered with sarcasm and made fun of each other like only, what I think, family can.
As I’m sitting drinking a guava juice on a busy Jakarta street filled with the smell of curry and fish, listening to the call to prayer, nostalgia hits me like a 20 foot wave. This overloads my system and I can’t really process what I’m feeling, it’s just sadness, thick tangible sadness, like the monsoon air, or an incense filled temple. All of this around us is so full and real and yet we sit as foreigners, interacting as much as we can but always with the fray, we feel a sense of purpose yet we can’t name it, in the end we are always just traveling, we observe, we learn, we grow and then we pick our backpacks and we wander on…..