I have never ridden a motorcycle in my life - I think I've been on the back of one twice and even that made me nervous. At 57 I certainly have had no plans, no fantasies even, of getting on one of those dangerous, life threatening machines. So what was the bright shiny toy that got me onto a motor scooter here in Bali for three days in a row?
The first day we did it I wanted more snorkelling and the only way to get there without paying $30 each for an unnecessary boat ride was to rent a motor scooter for $5 a day. (Thriftiness as desire?) I was terrified. I'm still convinced that the only thing that kept me upright were my clenched fists and my teeth firmly sunk into my lips! I was shaking with fear. On the way back I calmed down enough to begin to notice the view. I was surprised by how beautiful it was. I really must have been scared on the outward bound trip because I hadn't noticed all kinds of scenery. Peter finally got my attention from behind and pointed out that we'd gone the wrong way! No wonder it was so beautiful - we were off the tourist track along the coast and had gone up a lovely green valley. Terraced rice paddies climbed the hills. Houses, chickens and villages went by with no advertising. Suddenly a new shiny toy appeared! If I could overcome my fear of motor scooters enough, we could explore some more of these tiny roads going up into the hills.
Today we took off early and headed up towards the (inactive) volcano living to the west of us. There was about ten minutes on a main road which had a new flavour of terror, but then we began to climb up the mountains. We took turns onto smaller and smaller roads. So beautiful! Palm trees and jungly greens. Small compounds with chickens and children and beautiful flowers in front. A man walking a large pig on a rope. Fields of rice, corn and beans. We turned onto one small road and came suddenly to a road block. A bamboo gate across the road with about seven men in attendance all wearing red sarongs and red head scarves. They indicated we should turn around and go back. We did with no hesitation at all. But what was it? Construction? A ceremony? Police something? One of those unsolvable mysteries when you travel to foreign lands. Eventually one of our roads turned into a dirt track. We weren't up for that, though we saw a Balinese man come down it with two huge containers of petrol on the back of his motor cycle. We passed a temple where many motorcycles & scooters were parked outside. A quick peak on the way by revealed a large group of people preparing for a ceremony- weaving palm leaf containers for offerings and building bamboo structures to decorate.
Was I still scared? Oh you bet! Not quite as terrified as the first day; however I never exceeded 20 kph. I coasted down the (big, steep) hills gripping the brakes on and off in jerky stutters. Poor patient Peter stayed behind me and kept saying loving supportive words of encouragement each time we stopped. (You didn't have the brake lights on nearly as many times on that hill.)
So it's Motorcycle Mama! I'll add one note to that appellation. As we interact here with people in the tourist trade - wait & hotel staff, drivers, guides and salespeople, we're often referred to as Mama and Poppa. "Poppa will have the grilled fish and Mama the tempe satay." Or, trying to sell us some ginseng tea, "Poppa strong, make Mama happy!"
I've never thought of myself as a Mama, let alone a Motorcycle Mama, but hey, traveling expands all kinds of horizons.
(And CF, maybe I'll be joining you on the open road!)
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