Globetrotting Tales

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Puncak in the Rain

Copyright © Judith Shaw

Every three weeks, rain or shine, we drove from Jakarta to the mountains known as the Puncak. The village where we shared a bungalow gave “rural” a whole new meaning, but the air was always fresh and cool.

Image copyright Judith Shaw

Our driver Soroto

The drive was an adventure, courtesy of Soroto, our driver and general fixer. He was a cavalier and aggressive driver, always pushing the edge, and the mountain road was like a playground for him.

On one of our most memorable weekends, we got to the house and unpacked the boxes while Barnaby chased a chicken around the yard, diving into the bushes and screaming with joy. Soroto thankfully kept him from damaging the chicken.

The sun was shining, but in the mountains rain is always around the corner, so we quickly got ourselves together for a walk up the hill. The path was slippery with red clay, and we hung on to vegetation beside the path to keep from falling over. The path went through the clouds, and on the way down it started to rain. Soroto cut huge leaves from wild elephant ears and gave one to each of us to use as umbrellas. They didn’t do much good, because the leaves quickly filled with water that emptied on our heads. Soaking wet, we slid down the path to the house.

Both kids were covered in mud. Baths before lunch were in order, but in the Puncak there were no bathtubs, only mandi, large containers filled with water to pour over our heads before and after soaping up. No matter how hot it was outside, the water was always cold, and we were all shivering before we were clean.

Image copyright Judith Shaw

Barnaby and Jessica riding kuda kaceng (peanut horses) in Puncak

We had lunch on the open verandah so we could watch clouds flow over the mountains and smell the rain. After lunch the tukang came, smelling out our foreignness and bringing all kinds of stuff to sell. There are rules for this kind of thing. You don’t have to buy, but you have to look. And you have to be polite. In Java, rudeness can be fatal.

The first man unpacked wayang golek, the doll-like puppets used in the shadow plays of West Java. He spread them out and showed the children how to make them dance. Other tukang came, bringing their versions of antiques for us to sort through. Most were junk, but every once in a while not.

You can’t have wayang without gamelan, and soon a group of men showed up with a whole orchestra. They set up shop and started to play, using the padded mallets from West Java. The music was muted, soft and magical.

Evenings come early in the tropics. The junk sellers packed up their boxes and prepared to leave, but the musicians played on and on. We sat and watched the sun go down, listening to the music and the rain.

Swimming with Dolphins

Judith-and-Tom-icon-2dog thinking and watching about the future

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2 thoughts on “Globetrotting Tales

  1. tamara paterson

    I’m so excited this site is up. I’m going to treat myself by reading one story every day! Thank you so much for sharing with us. You are a wonderful writer, and by that I mean, your stories are truly inspirational and enjoyable. Thank you! xoxo Tamara

    1. Judith Shaw

      What wonderful encouraging words, Tamara. Thank you.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the Puncak vignette. I have lots more, some written. some still in my head. They’ll all find their way onto the website as time goes by. If you want to know when new stories go on the site, subscribe in the box to the right. You’ll get a newsletter telling you what’s new.

      Let me know what other stories you enjoy. I’d love to hear.

      Judith xoxo


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