During this 40 sweating hours spent on the ferry we met some bikers. The true ones. With all their folklore and codes of communication. It’s a strange world. And sometimes it can take you on a ride.
So we were in that boat. I was trying to keep some fieldwork diaries, but every now and then there was someone peeping inside of the round window of our very basic chamber. Or there was someone stepping inside of the room, thinking that as the staff on board this belongs to their rights. Of course I can step inside of the rooms of my far-away guests, we all want to know them, make friends and make them feel comfortable here.“ The good part of it was that some of them indeed brought us some watermelon. And I was floating in the watermelon sugar again, the pink nice watermelon, even the rats that were sneaking under our bed for the smell of it (and it was a 1-person bed, we were sharing it with Minna our legs and heads together, covering the whole with plastic bottles. – once there was a rat that was running behing the neck of Minna while we were watching some wierd films) turned into creatures with faces and attitude. All this sugar. But I also know that Ibu Maryani, the director of the Koranic school for the transgender in Yogyakarta, once said, that here in Indonesia they insert red ink with needles into the watermelon. (and I couldnt help thinking of breast silicon injection)
And then there were the motorbike guys. They were quit pleasent talking to us, we were having good time for around an hour. And once they heard we were about to head towards Toraja, they offered us a ride. Just because they are the motorbike guys and they do it all the time – they just ride across the country, visiting friends everywhere. And everywhere they go there’s the community of bikers waiting for them, ready to have some fun, some drinks, some riding around and crashing at some friend’s parents. And surely the mother was happy to have guests, and I enjoyed playing with kids. She was greeting us with some rice and delicious fish. Food, apparently is amazing in Sulawesi. And as they said it, they did it. We were riding all through South-Sulawesi, pass the endless rice-fields, through enormous rain, through some coffee on the roadside warung, over the mountains in the dark. We had a stop-over in one of the small towns on the road, where the old friends got drunk in a hotel that one of the biker owns. Next morning we had bunch of other bikers joining us until the next town. From there we had other bikers to join us to the next town. When we had trouble with the motor, the guys made some phone calls and in about ten minutes there were some local bikers to give them a hand. Sometimes we then drove off to some Honda mechanics centre, of course we were all treated by some tea and cakes. Apart from having great food, they also love to eat a lot here.
And so were we floating over the roads, with a row of blinking motorbikes, all covered by club stickers and pads. They had there own sign language, how they would communicate on the roads. And cars seemed to be taking a cautious respectful distance from them.
Later on I even heard from my friend Minna, who had to spend a night with those folks in Makassar, being stuck there in order to extend the visa, that they had a very weird ritual. If you want to join the bikers under the logo of „one heart“ or the Indonesian version, „satu hati“, you have to drink one litre of water straight. Yes, one liter, no less. And water (better leave the drinks out, this is still predominantly Moslem society). Most of the new-comers had to through out before they finished the third quater.
But the test was necessary. It was to test your strenghts. More and more girls are joining the bikers.
Indonesia is colorful of its vibrant sub-cultures, one more weird than the other. But people in general are nice. And I must admit, it is a wonderful feeling to travel on the motorbike across the earth, in sun and rain.
My friend, a biker.