Living the Dream

by Tabitha Kidwell

The 3 days I spent in South Kalimantan last weekend were the kind of adventure that I will look back on 10 years from now and wonder if it really happened, or if it was a dream. It may be because I was sick with some kind of dizzying illness most of the weekend, but looking back, it seems like a strange string of fantastic experiences that would make more sense if preceded by “I had this crazy dream last night that…”

There were 7 ELFs from around Indonesia staying at our friend Jon’s house in Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan. We woke up before dawn on Friday morning to go the river and get on a boat to go eat breakfast. While sailing down the river, we interrupted lots of people taking their morning baths, but they didn’t seem to mind. Once we got to a bigger river, boats full of food pulled up to us and we took what we wanted using a pointy stick.

Then, we went back to Jon’s house, got in cars, picked up 2 more friends at the airport, and drove like 6 hours to a wooden cabin in the tiny town of Loksado. There was a complex across the way that was described as a “hot springs” but when we all went over, it was more like a “dirty pool” that we swam in nonetheless.

The next morning, we took motorcycles over some rough terrain and some precarious bridges to get to a waterfall in the middle of the forest. We swam in our clothes because there was a spirit there that would be angry otherwise. I had my brand-new underwater camera with me, but it wouldn’t really take pictures underwater even though it seemed to work well otherwise.

That afternoon, we climbed two-by-two onto rafts made of bamboo logs tied together, and floated down the river. It wasn’t more than a foot deep at most places. The guides kept having to move rocks to find a pathway for us, but it was still a lovely ride. It got especially exciting when Jen (who was also in Madagascar with me) piloted our raft.

That evening, we gathered around a fire and sang American songs. We passed around an empty water bottle as a drum and a bottle of ciprofloxicin as a shaker.

The next morning, we piled into the cars again and drove back to Banjarmasin. But we got there too early, so we tried to go to our friend Matt’s house, but he wasn’t home, so we went and drank cold drinks, then Iris and I got a massage, then Matt was home, so we went there, then I filled out my Absentee Ballot and gave it to Jackie to mail for me, then we went to the airport and flew home…

And then I woke up. No, clearly it happened since I have the photos to prove it. But it was a crazy, unreal adventure. Indonesia – where dreams become a reality and reality is like a dream.

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