“My brother Anne, (pronounced Ahn-nay), needs a hat!” Iksan declares. He is referring to me. Two Indonesian ladies scuttle about, pinning and folding a thick, hand woven fabric around my waist. It glistens with a pattern of gold thread spun inside the weave. Our new friend Iksan is leading the charge, he has taken us to play dress up in one of Badas, Sumbawa’s formal wear shops. I’m not sure if Iksan came up with this plan on the spot or if he had this on his mind all day, but regardless, here we are becoming more and more Indonesian Bedazzled by the second.
Andrew led the charge, choosing a beautiful black fabric with gold pattern and red accents. The ladies insist my color choice align with Andrew’s as husband and wife must be a color coordinated pair. We try a green and red number with bright pink sash. They speak a million miles per hour as they pin Andrew’s hat on his head and laugh that my…rotund…ass is interrupting the intended look of the wrap they are trying to make work on me. They poke at my butt and scowl.
How did my life lead to this?
We met Iksan and his friends three days earlier. We had planned to make Badas a short, one day provisioning stop. We had just unfolded Grin, hoisted Kitty, and intended to head to shore to find happy hour beers at the hotel just above the anchorage when Iksan and his group of friends waved us over from the pier.
“Do you need diesel? Iksan can get you diesel,” asks the man who, I swear just moments earlier, had introduced himself as Iksan.
“Aren’t you Iksan,” I think to myself.
“I’d like diesel, but we were just on our way to the hotel for happy hour beers.” Andrew explains, hoping to postpone the whole process of unlashing, emptying our full jugs, and providing them for fill-up until the next morning.
Iksan’s face brightens considerably. “Happy-Happy for your first night in town!? Iksan will come, too! There’s a DJ and Kareoke. You like Arak?” Iksan asks, inquiring about our fondness for Indonesia’s famous locally distilled alcohol. “Iksan will bring some tonight...after we go get diesel.”
At this point I am certain this man is speaking of himself in third person. Andrew decides to post pone his own happy hour beer in favor of the well priced offer for diesel.
“Okay, let’s go.” Iksan says.
Iksan instructs Andrew to take me to shore and let me go to the hotel while Andrew, Iksan and his friends work through the diesel acquisition process. Hours later as it is getting quite dark Andrew and his team of cohorts finally return to the hotel. Iksan and his friends are ready to party; they pick out the best Karaoke couch and settle in.
It isn’t until 3:50 a.m. that we beg our goodbyes and shuffle down the hill to head back to Sonrisa. We did not expect to sing, dance, and drink arak and beer well beyond sailor’s midnight. Andrew is still left puzzling over the gender roles of this country where men freely hold hands and dance with each other. They are not interested in you that way, this is just how they are with their “brothers”.
We intended to sleep in, but the next morning Iksan calls us bright and early on our cell phone for what will become Day 2 of 4 of the “Iksan Tour”. “Bring American Bourbon.” Iksan instructs. Andrew reaches into our liquor cabinet and pulls out the dwindling bottle of “Basil Hayden” and sighs knowing this is the last he will see of its kind for a while.
On shore, Iksan has recruited his friend Ones (prounounced “Ohh-Ness”) to help shuttle us about. Iksan and Ones pick us up at the dock, putting each of us on the back of their motorbikes. We zip over to Iksan’s front porch where they cook fish over coconut husks and mix Andrew’s precious bourbon with bottles of coca-cola.
After the fish, we head to the local hotel and everyone’s favorite swimming resort, where Iksan declares swimming to be non-negotiable. The Oddgodreys will be going for a swim…in their clothes. I’m not 100% sure why other than their tendency toward modest attire, but Indonesians always swim fully clothed. This means, if you are going to swim with them and not cause heads to turn, you, too, will be swimming in your clothes. When in Rome, people.
Next, we are shuttled back to Ones's Mama’s front porch for Sumbawa’s local fish stew and “Kopi,” local coffee sweetened with a sugar syrup to the point that it tastes like coffee candy.
After stew, Iksan declares we are going to go for a “lookie-lookie and happy-happy.” Okay, but what does this mean? “You know, lookie-lookie!” Iksan says, weaving his hand around like he’s riding his bike around swerving corners, then motioning like he’s taking pictures with a camera. Site seeing? It’s getting dark, so we aren’t sure that’s what this body language suggests. Nonetheless, Iksan has established himself as “trusted (enough) tour guide” and we figure we’ll probably survive.
We hop on the scooters and set off. We are shuttled to the other side of town where we pass building after building housing karaoke bars. It’s the Karaoke strip! Iksan stops and escorts us in to several karaoke bars, showing us off to his friends who all want pictures with the foreigners. We determine “Lookie-Lookie” is not sightseeing, but instead a process of letting all his local friends “lookie-lookie” at us!
Soon, we end up at the karaoke bar of choice for the night: the Cowboy Bar. “Like in America, right?” Iksan declares.
At this point, Ones takes one finger and slashes it in front of his forehead. “Gila.” Ones says, indicating that he thinks Iksan is crazy.
The Cowboy Bar is not open yet, and we sit and wait for almost an hour for the purveyor to open the doors. Here, Iksan begins typing us messages on the Google Translator while we wait. He types then hands it over, smiling up at us from his squatted position.
“I will never forget you died.” Wait, wha???
We shake our heads and hand it back to him. “I don’t think it worked,” I tell him. He types again and hands it back. Again, smiling up at us.
“Today and forever, once your blood is mixed with my blood.”
I look at Andrew and Andrew looks at me. We laugh, uneasy. I don’t think Iksan is making threats. We study the Bahasa Indonesian he typed in and notice a sentence that has words with commas and no spaces. We add the spaces and hit search again:
“You are my sisters, I will remember you forever.”
Ahh, yes, that’s probably more like it. Though, it is amusing that we are all “sisters” now.
It was 10:30 p.m. before the Cowboy Bar opens, and Andrew was not prepared for a second night of “Happy-Happy” so soon. When Iksan orders a giant bottle of Arak so far away from Sonrisa, our only transportation being scooters with breaks of dubious quality, we decided to put a line in the sand.
“Sorry, Iksan. We have to go home for the night.” We tell him. Iksan slumps with disappointment, but Ones seemed relieved.
“Tomorrow, Happy-Happy.” Iksan says.
.... To Be Continued