Welcome to Indonesia!

19 Aug

[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]We left Tawau, the port in north-eastern (Malaysian) Borneo, this morning. For Tarakan, on the Indonesian side of Borneo.

The boat was late. Terminally late. Clearly an hour or more late, rather than a few minutes late.

So I was relaxed when I got off it to buy snacks at the port side, leaving Z perusing 1066 and All That in the cabin.

Rather less relaxed when I turned round, in the throes of making change, to see the boat pulling out to sea.

Z is on it. I am not. It is three and a half hours to the Indonesian side of the border, over deep sea.

“Bye!” yell the porters jocularly, stowing the ropes.

“My baby is on that boat,” I yell, forgetting about change and chucking a largish note at the snack seller.

Then I realise I can’t jump the boat. It is eight feet off the floating pier by now and heading out to sea.

“We come back,” they yell back, making hand gestures which communicate to me that they are clearing the pier so the boats which are due to leave after them can load up and depart, before they come back.

This makes sense to me. But, watching the boat pull out to sea, with my baby on board, I can only think that he will not get the finer points of this.

In fact, I’m terrified. Firstly, I envisage him battling his way past porters and jumping off the side. Then I realise he can swim, and, even if he couldn’t, they wouldn’t let him off.

Then I start to imagine how it must feel to be nine years old and without your mother on a boat heading out into the ocean.

I hope the porters will be more sensitive to his feelings about this separation than they have been to mine. As the boat with Z on pulls out off the shore I make frantic full-body diving signs for OK (as in “Don’t worry! It’s OK!”).

I know he can’t see me. But I carry on doing it.

The boat pulls out further. I begin to doubt whether anything the porters can say will reassure him. He knows it’s three and a half hours to Indonesia and I’m on the pier. My heart is breaking for him.

One of the porters tries to be funny. I nearly hit him. The others go into the mode we British recognise as “Calm down, luv, it may never happen!”

I’m hoping their colleagues are being more sensitive with Z but am not optimistic.

Two different boats pull in and load up with everything from mattresses to longans. It’s an agonisingly slow process. And all the while I am trying to communicate with Z, a hundred metres out to sea on the departed boat.

The second boat leaves. Our original boat backs in, agonisingly slowly, to its new spot.

I notice anxious porters on the shallow, rail-less deck edge which fringes the boat and doubles as a bumper for piers and a transition spot from boat to boat. “Quick!” they say.

The boat is more than 2 metres off shore. “Quick,” they say, again. Showing more sensitivity than I would ever have credited them with. (And more, according to Z, than they showed him…)

I think about jumping.

Once the boat is four feet off the pier, but before the ropes come out, I jump. I race through the companion-hold.

A woman in a headscarf gets in my way. “There is a problem with the baby,” she says, accusingly.

Did I say “gets in my way”? I mean, I think, “gets in my face”.

“I KNOW THERE IS A PROBLEM WITH THE BABY,” I say, trying not to hit her. I realise I am hopping from foot to foot, as though marking her in netball, in an attempt to get round her broadish beam.

She moves. This is very wise.

Z is, thank god, where I have left him.

Albeit in floods of tears. He is sitting under his hat, and behind his book, very much as camouflage.

We have a large hug. “I thought I was going all the way to Indonesia,” he says. “So I thought I’d read my book to take my mind off it.”

Our hug lasts for the big end of an hour.

And the sniffer dogs on the Indonesian side of the border? We rock ’em. Both of us.

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6 Responses to “Welcome to Indonesia!”

  1. Snap August 20, 2010 at 5:07 am #

    You poor things!!!!!!!!!! I would have been beside myself too. Even though Z is clearly an intelligent, capable young man…he is after all, still your baby 🙂

    • MummyT August 20, 2010 at 11:45 am #

      It might almost have been easier if the ship had actually been leaving. Then I’d have been in panic stations, stop the boat mode (and, of course, they would have stopped the boat). Rather than just standing fretting on a floating pier, with visions of tearful child…

  2. nicole curry August 20, 2010 at 6:41 am #

    Oh god, I’m crying! How scary for you both. My Z would have melted with the thought of being left behind. Shit, I would have freaked. I can completely imagine this scenrio happening to us!
    Glad your both together and on our way to Borneo. Can’t wait for travel tips on where to hit while we’re here!

    • MummyT August 20, 2010 at 11:47 am #

      It was the most ridiculous thing! Literally, three feet from the boat, buying from one of those mobile vendors. Turn round, and the thing is pulling away… Thanks for your sympathy. When do you hit Borneo? And which bit are you going to? Kuching is a really nice city, by far my favourite city there. I’m wondering whether to do Tanjung Puting for the river and orangutans while we’re in Indonesian Borneo, but just realising how very little of the country you can cover in 14 weeks…

  3. Nick August 20, 2010 at 2:53 pm #

    how dramatic! anyway where were you before arriving in Tawau?

    • MummyT August 20, 2010 at 3:00 pm #

      Ranau… Then stuck on a bus for longer than I care to recall. I wasn’t quite sure I could face inflicting that journey on innocent readers, though I might look at the draft and see if it’s worth publishing. On the plus side, Tawau has a cinema and an amusement arcade, both of which we hugely appreciated.

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