Halte: Kemang

It’s 4:00, and a group of us walks the mile or so to KCV where a family from the school is hosting a pool party. Security stops us before we can get in, but our host quickly arrives to let security let know that we are with him.

The pool isn’t heated, but hey! it’s Indonesia, so it’s just as warm as any heated pool in Michigan. We swim for a few hours, but it starts getting dark and we watch it pour for about forty-five minutes. The rain stops, and we decide to make a break for it. It’s dark now, since the sun always sets at 6:00, so we head off as a group back down the street. Before we can get to Kemang Raya, the side street is flooded. It’s not even the rainy season, but the sewer system in Jakarta is old and easily overwhelmed.

The group behind us tried to get a Bajai, but the guy standing next to it told them, “No, I am on holiday.” Maybe it was because it was now sundown, and the Ramadan fast had officially ended, or maybe it was because the streets were flooded. Either way, there were no Bajai rides to be bought.

“Be careful,” Sarah says, “Sometimes people get swept away at this part because the current is so strong.” She wades out into the flow– its about two inches above our ankles. I just start laughing, but Sarah wants me to hold her hand so we slosh down the street hand in hand. Some of the other locals are congregated under the awning of the flower stand, watching us, and Sarah turns to one of them who, assumedly doesn’t speak English, saying, “What if my sandals wash away, Pak?” I laugh even harder, and hike up my capris a bit further.

We climb up to the main street and run across the road. The path next to the road is uneven so I focus on my feet as we walk. A few sizable cockroaches run in front of me, but no one else seems to notice. We take the back alleyways because we are such a large group: besides, bule like us are significantly bigger than the average Indonesian.

The call to prayer starts. Someone in our group spots a toad, I almost slip and fall, and a car wants to drive through the tiny, walled in alley, so we scoot over to the side and try to not slide into the drainage ditch.

We arrive to our building not-quite-soaking wet, and we ride the elevator to our home on the 11th story. From our windows, the fireworks from the village below are eye level. I open my window and hang out to try to take some photos. Two doors down, someone else is already filming the dozens of fireworks shooting off around the city.

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