Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Birthday Getaway with Strangers : A Moment of Thanksgiving

A not-so-juicy strong obnoxious fishy smelled morning air might be not the best way to open our day. Like a child having difficulties sliding those pills into their throat, I also felt it a hard work inhaling that certain kind of morning breeze into my lungs. The excitement of meeting the beaches and meeting my seemed-like-fun new friends were the ones that kept my feet still going on with the same rhythm. Yeah, all these brownish puddle should not puddle my birthday getaway in any way.

The gas station near the Muara Angke port was the bystander of the meetings of some strangers who decided to have some good time together. We were planning to meet there at 6 am. There were 7 of us. There was me, old friend Bd and Novi, and some new friends from the Couchsurfing community : Maria, Hanna, Mas Gus, and Sven. I couldn't choose people at all, since those days were in the middle of the week and it seemed that everybody's working. Couldn't change the date as well, since my birthday was in the midweek, and was intended to be on a (pretty) remote area when the moment was setting in. Was planning to go alone, but it would be too expensive. I need some people to share the costs. So, feeling to the need to get more friends, I shared the event in the Couchsurfing. Here they are....with no slightest idea of their backgrounds.

Jolly Moments
The boat trip from Muara Angke to Pulau Harapan was okay. We just sat there in as-few-position-as-possible, since many local (island) people just laid down with no urge of making more spaces to other people. No conversations were also able to be made. The sound of the boat machine was completely taking over everything. After one hour, I stepped out and sat on the front deck, trying to enjoy what lies ahead of me. Then Sven came out, and the getting-to-know-each-other-more moment was started. That was the second person I had my long conversation with. The first one was with Maria, who courageously surfed at my place the night before, after 1 hour meeting each other for the very first time.

I was planning this trip for weeks. Was trying to have some me-myself-and-I moment on my birthday. After a very hard year in the past, I'd like to find more reasons to be grateful at. We've been stuck in the mundane circle of life that sometimes forbid us to see those simple precious things around. Planning not to depend my happiness on surroundings, such as how many birthday wishes I get from friends and relatives, how many people would share my happy moments, or other things people would give me on my birthday. I need to do it by myself. I need to find it by myself. So, there I was, getting myself away from my social life, to discover more of myself. Getting away with some complete strangers.

That 1st day was incredible. The weather was amazingly bright and sunny. The tour guide said that it was the perfect time to do some snorkeling. But we decided to laid our back more by only doing some island hopping to some islands nearby. We went to Pulau Kelapa Dua to see the Turtle Conservation, then continued to Pulau Kotok, where the Eagle Conservation is located. We had some interesting conversations with the guide. I could see that we all love the nature so much, that we wanted to know more and more of it. The last island was Pulau Semut Kecil. We just played around on the white beach, with the setting sun as the only witness, as there are nobody else were in the island. The sun wasn't as sunny as before. It gave us the perfect warmth to play in it. Some little crabs we accidentally found did not prevent us to touch every inch of the warm soft white sand with our bare feet.

The sun was setting down. We tried to find the best spot to embrace the moment. Some of us were laying down at the seashore and welcoming the night solemnly. Bd, Hanna, and Sven was also trying to capture the moment by numerous clicks on their big cameras. Even though the sparse clouds was prevent us to see the meeting of the sunset and the sea lines, the moment was not less adorable.

Darkness has rapidly wrapped the day after since our boat was gently slinking in it. After 12 hours of togetherness, I see my friends differently. I was so grateful that none of them was a party pooper. They were all very cooperative, relax, respectful, and don't sweat the small stuff. No complains were heard, and smiles were persistently clinging on their face. I knew that they were the best travel mates I could have had at that moment.

The day was almost over. We alternately took shower and had some more free time chit-chat and games after. Bd, Novi, and Maria was not long lulled by the cuddly pillow after the delightful dinner. Then we decided to have the barbeque the next day instead of forcing our sleepy eyes kept open, since most of us didn't get enough sleep the night before. After Mas Gus and Sven said goodnight and sleep, me and Hanna was still sitting there on the terrace and had a wonderful conversation for hours. The night was getting late, and the topics were getting deeper and deeper. Realizing so many things to do in the morning, we decided to end it and got some sleep. Notifications were vigorously appeared on my cellphone as my birthday was already there. I took a quick look and let it lying there as I recharged the battery, and went to sleep. 

The 2nd day, November the 22nd, was happened to be the 4th Thursday in November, which means the Thanksgiving Day -- and also my Birthday. The day was magnificently disclosed by a beautiful reddish sunrise. Was hardly opened my eyes as I started to walk towards the harbor. But the smell of the sea, the fresh morning air, and the view of fishermen got busy around their boat was enough to freshen up my mood. Instantly feeling grateful of the day, and moreover the new age has given to me. One little creature was standing beneath the sky, being stranded in a little corner of this immense earth, taking life too seriously, that sometimes forget about precious things to be grateful at.

Running back to the homestay as the rain began to fall, I found my friends were already woke up. They started to gave me their birthday greetings. The rest of the day was flowing perfectly. We went snorkeling at some spots in Pulau Macan, Pulau Kayu Angin Genteng, Pulau Kayu Angin Bira, and then had our lunch in another quiet white sand beach island called Pulau Melintang Kecil. We had our first photo session there. Those photo sessions were so much fun! With huge amount of obedience, we followed the self-proclaimed-style-director. I would never forget how I was successfully persuaded to do a handstand. Geez, trying to put all these weight onto my defective right hand, can you imagine? Luckily it wasn't me the one who failed, it was all of us. The photo session was such a mess! A beautiful mess! :-)

After the long day, I felt more and more grateful of these group of people I've instantly known. Countless laughter were substantially burst along the way. The 2nd night was amazing. We played, we sang, we had our fish and squid barbeque, accompanied by some drinks. I had great conversations with each of them. Even some of us were willingly to share their private stories, sharing the heavy weight they'd been carrying in their 'backpack'. Sharing those burdens would simply make your steps lighter, wouldn't you? No life is better than others. We have our own pathways. No life is also worth treated miserably. Too many beautiful things in life not to be grateful at.

Crossed Paths
Our paths have crossed in this Kepulauan Seribu. 7 perfect strangers who shared good times to each other. It (hopefully) wouldn't be hard for me, Bd, and Hanna to meet each other again, since we are all live in the same city of Jakarta. Even for Novi and Maria who live in Bekasi, it wouldn't be so hard either. But it might be a little harder to meet Mas Gus who lives in the East Java, and even more for Sven who lives in Netherlands.

The perfect timing was the one that brought us together. This might be the beginning of something bigger, or it might be it. We might never met each other again, and those 3 days would be the only thing we had. Let those 3 days memories be treasured gratefully.

Then I started wondering. While those short good jolly times could be sweetly imprinted in hearts, why wouldn't the longer ones be? Didn't it mean more of beautiful memories? Why should we feel so sentimental about goodbyes? Don't we need to focus more on what we've had with those people whose path had been crossed with ours rather than feeling dramatically sentimental about the loss?

Sometimes we don't need years to make good memories lasted. It could be minutes, days, weeks, months, or, yes, years. While knowing nothing about how it would end, then giving our best would be the greatest thing to do. Spreading love to our beloved ones and even to strangers. To make the mortal world a better place for each of us. 


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