Over the years, I’ve travelled a lot, mostly for business, but also for pleasure. These days I’m not so interested in leaving the island; buying tickets, getting to the airport and dealing with immigration lines are some of the reasons that I’m more than content with my occasional road trips around the island on my motorcycle.
However, I had to leave Bali to travel to Yogyakarta to attend my oldest daughter’s graduation from nursing school. Being the primary caregiver for my youngest granddaughter, I had to take her with me on the trip. Memories of traveling with small children in the old days of living in Tembagapura gave me shivers at the thought of a long drive down to the airport with a child prone to motion sickness and then waiting in lines to get into the airport, acquire a boarding pass, get through all the security gates and then sit on a plane where motion sickness would once again be a concern.
So, I was somewhat less than enthusiastic about leaving home with Zoey. I woke up at 1:30 to dress and move our bags downstairs to the front door. I made a bottle for Zoey, woke her up and we loaded everything into the car. With my brother-in-law at the wheel, Zoey and I sat in the back. I was hoping that she would go right back to sleep, but she loves being in the car so she was up pointing out trees and landmarks as we left the city in the still of a Singaraja night. As soon as we hit the curvy road on the way up into the mountains, Zoey quietly threw-up. She cried softly for a minute, asked for her bottle and immediately fell asleep. She slept through the long drive down to the airport, waking just as we arrived.
Anticipating difficulties at the airport, we were traveling light: a backpack and a baby bag with diapers, formula and some extra clothes. Paul Theroux said that old men are invisible travelers. This was my first trip as an old man traveling with a toddler, and I was pleased to discover that many people went out of their way to give us a hand. It helped that Zoey was at her best on this trip: smiling, chatting with new people, wandering around the airport. She wandered up to a young Indonesian woman who was texting on her HP. Zoey said, “Duduk (sit down).” The young lady said, “Yes, sit down.” Zoey climbed up on the seat next to her and immediately grabbed her HP and started yelling, “Hello, hello,” into the phone. So there was her first fan. She spent the next hour wandering up to random strangers and starting conversations ( a mix of English, Indonesian and baby talk) with them.
On the plane, Zoey watched the takeoff, made a few comments about trees and ocean and boats and then fell right to sleep. She slept until we landed in Jogya. She loved the crowds at the airport (even if Grandpa didn’t), and the taxi ride to the graduation venue. Later in the day, we wandered around Jalan Malioboro and did some shopping, and again, she enjoyed the crowded streets and stores.
Early the next morning, Zoey and I went out for our morning walk, stopped in a KFC and had scrambled eggs for breakfast. She was loud enough in her comments on the food and the people that a foreigner who was scrunched over his eggs, coffee and tablet to give us an evil look. Feeling slightly naughty, I stuck my tongue out at him, Zoey followed my lead. The Indonesians in the restaurant found this silliness wildly amusing. The foreigner grimaced and went back to his tablet.
The trip home was another easy journey. Looking back, I think that the 19 months of Zoey and I wandering around the city everyday have given her a feeling of comfort dealing with new people in a variety of settings. And so the little traveler had her first trip offisland. A fun trip but good to be home again.