Once I figured I was clear of bandit country, I allowed myself a morning tea stop. There was a warung on the cliff, but no people anywhere. No worries, self service it is.
The sun was roasting, so I availed myself of the facilities and the shade. I put my feet up, and drank the coffee that Ibu Salma had so presciently packed for me.
Speaking of facilities, the little toilet shack had one of the best views I’d seen. Sea views out one side, and on the other, I could keep a watchful eye on my beloved motorbike while I took a pee. The corrugated iron privacy partition was helpfully half-height to facilitate the excellent visual amenity for the occupant, if not their privacy. Perhaps it was just as well that there was no-one else around.
Later in the day, clouds came rolling in and I could smell rain. The colours had dimmed by the time I stopped for instant noodles and boiled eggs. As I put my helmet back on, I felt the first spits of rain.
It had been such a hot day that I didn’t think I would need to truss myself up in wet weather gear, but I was wrong. By late afternoon the temperature had plummeted and the rain was pelting hard.
I took shelter under the awning during a particularly hard downpour, but by now it was mostly a moot point – I was soaked through.
Well, I’d left Sorowako late that day, and after all that waltzing along it was nearly dark by the time I rolled into Kolaka. It’s a large enough town, and even has at least one fancy hotel to cater to foreigners visiting on mining business. Obviously, I didn’t go there. Instead I went straight to eat: I was cold, wet, tired and hungry. I must have looked a sight, too, because everyone stared. Or maybe they just don’t see soaked women on overloaded KTMs that often. Who knows. Anyway, after I’d eaten half a chicken I felt a lot better.
I went out into the street to ask about a cheap guesthouse, and was pointed up the block a little bit. Well, I walked in the direction indicated and couldn’t see any guesthouse. I came back again to express my confusion. A lady selling fruit shook her head at me, and then took me back up the street to the hotel she’d been talking about. Sure enough, I’d walked right past it without noticing – it was set a little bit back off the steet, and was enormous. I had been looking for a tiny cheap guesthouse, and somehow managed not to notice the massive hotel. The fruit seller lady must have thought I was retarded. Nevertheless, she marched me inside and harangued the desk clerk until he gave me a room at the locals rate, a good 25% cheaper than the rack rate listed in big letters at the front desk. I was happy.
By the time I’d unpacked all my gear off the bike and hauled it inside, I was feeling a little warmer. I stripped off my soggy wet layers and for some reason, felt extremely pleased with myself. I also felt delightfully at home. The room was dingy, the water was cold, the sheets obviously hadn’t been changed since the last guest; but I’m used to all that now. That’s what you get when you stay in the cheapest rooms in Indonesia, and in a perverse way, all the discomforts simply served to remind me that I was exactly where I wanted to be. On the road, footloose and fancy free.
I looked at my body in the mirror and felt immensely satisfied with it. Look – it does all the things I need it to do.It hauls my gear and pilots my motorcycle and picks up my motorcycle when necessary. I felt good, and I felt lucky.
It had been a good day.