In the jungle, I’d often think about our first return trip to Australia. I’d imagine all of the great stories we’d have to tell, and how much fun we’d have sharing our experiences. As you already know, I made an unexpected trip back to Australia on my own just over a month ago. I didn’t plan to be here in Australia again so soon, and I didn’t think for a minute that I’d be back on my own. I always assumed that Bazil would be here beside me on our first visit back, and that we’d be telling our story together. In his absence, I know I’ve disappointed many people with my apparent lack of story telling enthusiasm. Storytime is just not the same without him.
In the last month, due to the passing of a dear uncle, there have been more people gathered around the table here on the farm over a meal, or a cup of tea than I would have thought possible. The table has been extended on many occasions, and even the boundaries of the dining room have been extended far into the neighbouring lounge room to accommodate the extra visitors. I’ve seen many people – friends and family, that I haven’t seen for years. There has been a lot of catching up, and not surprisingly I’ve found myself answering a lot of questions. Repetetively. The truth is, I’ve been getting asked the same handful of questions over and over again. Answering the same questions day after day (and often numerous times within the same day) quickly became tiring. My answers became shorter and more vague each day, and eventually I found myself avoiding the social setting at the table as much as I could. I’d retreat to the kitchen where I’d attempt to appear far too busy for chit chat, with my head buried in a recipe or my hands occupied in a frenzy of frantic chopping, whisking or stirring. There has been no winning for anyone who’s tried to start a conversation with me lately, as I just haven’t felt like talking about it. Any of it. The fact that I’m here on my own. The difficult month it’s been for my family. The situation at the mine in Sumbawa. The Indonesian government. Politics. Whether we’re going back to Indonesia or not. Indonesia in general.
I’ve also been surprised at just how defensive I’ve been feeling of the tropical island we’ve been calling ‘home’. In the minds of many, Indonesia = Bali, and Bali = Indonesia. Period. I’ve been frustrated at people assuming they know exactly what every part of ‘Indonesia’ is like either by what they’ve seen/read in the news, or from an unimaginative holiday they’ve taken in Bali. It goes something like this “Oh, you live in Indonesia do you?” Well when we were in Bali…” and at that point I feel like cupping my hand over their mouth and interjecting with “We don’t live in Bali, we live nowhere near Bali. Sumbawa is a remote island – many parts of it are completely untouched by tourism. You can’t compare the two, you can’t assume you know what it’s like, you don’t understand at all and you shouldn’t draw conclusions about where we’re living by the little you know.”
Which island did you say it was? Sambowa? Soombaya? Sarmbala?
What I most likely said: “It’s Sumbawa, just to the east of Lombok.”
What I most likely wanted to say: (In an exaggeratedly slow manner) “S-U-M-B-A-W-A.”
“SUM – BAA – WAA”
What’s it been like over there?
What I most likely said: “It’s been really good.”
What I most likely wanted to say: “One moment while I just condense 6 months of life changing experiences into a sentence that will stop you asking me further uninspired questions.”
Are you glad to be out of there?
What I most likely said: “Yeah, it’s good to be home.”
What I most likely wanted to say: “It’s not like I was escaping a burning building. For a start, you may have noticed that my husband isn’t here. I had to leave him behind, along with the perfect summer weather we were having, that gorgeous aqua water and all of my possessions bar 10kg of luggage.”
Are you missing Barry?
What I most likely said: “No, not at all. Just kidding. it wasn’t an easy goodbye and given a choice, we wouldn’t be apart right now.”
What I most likely wanted to say: “If you don’t want a sarcastic answer, then don’t ask a stupid question.”
Are you enjoying your time here?
What I most likely said: “Yes, it’s been good.”
What I most likely wanted to say: “Well as you know, it’s been all about the palliative care and recently the funeral of my uncle – so I would hardly call it ‘enjoyable’. Thanks for asking.”
How was it living in the Middle East with the Arabs? Saudi Arabia isn’t it?
What I said: “Sorry, what did you say?”
What I really wanted to say: “Arabs?” “Middle East?” “Saudi Arabia?”
“Either you are hard of hearing or geography really isn’t your strong point.” I’ve been really grateful to the people I’ve caught up with who have been taking the time to read our blog since the beginning. To anyone who has been following our journey as it’s unfolded, there have been no explanations needed and these encounters have been most enjoyable! Right now as I write this post, Bazil is at Bali International Airport waiting to get on a plane back to Australia. Finally! In less than 12 hours we will be together again, and I will be sure to ease him back into civilisation gradually with some of my best erratic driving, a bit of broken English, a meat pie and maybe a jumper!