Indonesian cop and saffari playing guitar in Lombok.

The Popo

It had been a challenging ferry ride, from the bule (westerner) tax that lead to me missing the goal ferry and putting me first in line to wait for the next (More on this tax in Tedak Bagus), to a rooster vehemently preempting dawn, wreaking my barely passable sleep.

Fuck, whatever I’m up now. I make my way outside to catch some fresh air and watch the day come in. This is where I meet good ole’ Nyoman.

In Indonesia it hasn’t been uncommon, that curious locals drum up a chat. These are usually pleasant, or at least brief. But uncle Nyoman stands out. Within 2 minutes of meeting me, he declares. “No trouble with the police.” Which there had been. Well to be fair, airport customs not police and inconvenience more than trouble. But whatever, the comment puts me on edge. I reply that trouble with the police is not my style. He’s stoked and proceeds to spend 10 minutes showing me photies of him in uniform, usually with a pretty sizy gun in hand. He’s a marine officer you see. A proud one of 25 years standing.

“You sleep my house tonight.” he declares. “Haha, no. Thanks man, I’m eager to get to kuta, but I’ll come for a cuppa.”Goes the reply.

Due to ‘indo-time’, second cousin to ‘Africa-time’ denoting the generally lax attitude to schedules that the third world employs, we had lots of time between the commitment and its realisation. Due to the wide language gap, we had very little to fill this time with. So it got awkward. In his desperation to connect, he fringed on acting properly peculiar. To the point that I reconsidered the visit in the first place.

His strange behaviour didn’t end on the boat. Following him to his place I let him know that I was in need of petty. “You get on the way to my home.” Alright. But we pass one fuel station after the next. So the plan changes to “after my home.” Sure, OK, whatever. I’m nervous. It’s staggeringly beautiful out here but I’m paying close attention to the way out, in case I gotta dip.

At his place and I notice he has a decently sized amp. Turns out our guy plays. But won’t, so I do. Oh, I’ve also just freshly grazed the skin on my left arm and hands, taking a tumble at Uluwatu. Between riffs, he swoops in and applies some crushed leaf to my wounds. Native medicine I suppose.

Spotting his drums, I coax him into playing and we have a neat little jam. He knows one beat, but can vary the speed a touch, so we just adapt our playing to one another’s, keeping it simple as they say. The visit is real smooth after that. When I leave there is a true sense of mutual appreciation.

All in all, the man would make a stellar couch surf host. I let him know about the site. I hope he follows up. Cause to be honest his directness, in later interactions, still doesn’t sit all that comfortably with my reserved colonial ways.

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