When I lived in Portland, Oregon I used to get lost on a regular basis--not in strange places, not en route to new destinations, but from one familiar place to another--the grocery store, Starbucks, Sasha’s school, the post office, and such-like.
Now imagine how things are here in Bali, with roads that have no names, streets that twist crazily about, tangled together like paperclips or strings of Christmas lights; where traffic signals are practically non-existent, and where no one stops anyway for the ones that do exist.
Imagine the trouble I have with picking out landmarks among terrain features that are strange to begin with. Ah, there’s a tall palm tree--I will remember that. But then how to separate this particular palm tree from the hundred palm trees on either side? Okay then, there’s a Hindu prayer room. Yes, and there another, and another, and another, all seemingly one and the same.
The best hub of location I have found so far is the Golden Arches (yes, no one escapes Ronald McDonald, no matter how far he runs). It is a light shining in the darkness, a beacon, a lighthouse. I circle and flit about this light on my scooter as if I were a moth, not minding the smoldering of my wings.
I set out for home again, immediately go astray, sucked in by the swirling black hole of asphalt, but then suddenly spy the golden beacon once again. Ah Salvation! The food is not good, but the light is irresistible.
Necessity is not only the mother of invention, but also the mother of competence, as far as scooter riding goes--for the best way to learn to ride a scooter is to get lost on a scooter. There are only three options. You either ride the thing, learning in the process; push the thing home (which you have to idea how to find anyway); or you, and your scooter die under the midday sun like a cowboy and his horse lost in Death Valley.
So it happened yesterday that I took the longest trip ever just to buy my son a hamburger. Goddamn American food! Learn to eat rice, will ya? Three hours it was--and still I have no idea where I went, although I suppose it is possible that I have now seen the entire island of Bali.
Now sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip . . . .