tired, hungry, broke, but far from broken

by Will Sanders on January 2nd, 2010

Here goes.

Another Blog for Amy, and Marcus, and anyone else who reads it.  Which is fine, I would still write if the both of you stopped, but I hope you don’t.  Thanks, blog believers!  And if I left anyone else out thanks for reading you guys too.  Here we go.

Today I am killing time once again in Makassar.  Stuck here again, stuck here again.

Christmas was long and boring and lonely, I wandered the streets of Makassar without aim.  Eventually I made it back to my hotel at night to find a German man to drink with.  We didn’t just drink a little either.  We drank and drank.  He told me about his half ‘yuish’ grandmother, and how he is a doctor in an EU and sometimes works as long as fourty hours, German law stipulates that the same doctor must help the patient.  Ok, here is a guy who needs an Indonesian vacation.

That night, the guy who ran my hotel took my money for my stay and a little extra to drive me to the bus the next morning at 6:30.  I was in bed at 3 drunk, up at 6:30 packed, and he was nowhere to be found.  This was strike two for the hotel, strike one was when they had a guide hang around outside my room door waiting to poance me whenever I left with the offer of drastically impractical and overpriced travel options.  I am now back in Makassar staying at the hotel directly across the street from them, walking in plain view of their window in and out of my slightly more expensive but better hotel, not to be a dick, just to demonstrate there are ways to and ways not to treat your guests.

So the next day was endless, the 8 hour bus ride was really 10, the screaming baby behind me didn’t help matters and I didn’t sleep the whole time.

It got bad too.

That morning I left without hitting the ATM because the transpo I had set up was no show and I was running more than half dead hung over asleep to find my bus on time.  I made the bus but not the ATM.

The end of the day found me aweful.   The four year old in the seat behind me had a hair fetish and tugged mine everytime I nodded off.  The bus lurched violently bobbing my head around like a basketball.  And I can never sleep in a moving vehicle.  I had thought the drinking the night before would be ok, it would mean I could sleep better on the bus, but nope.  Just made it suck more.  I was in the front row but could not stretch out, the guys who worked as coolies on the bus sat all around squeezed between my chair and the front door.

Man I was hungry.  I barely had enough for lunch that day, nevermind diner.  The hour before Makassar was stretching endlessly, they had people getting off at their houses along the way.  A bus the size of a grey hound had each person getting their own stop.  I was so hungry and tired I wanted to cry.  I switched the headphones to Miles Davis’ birth of cool’.  I tried to concentrate on the music.  Coletrane took a long solo, which I have read used to piss off Miles Davis.  Even as a sideman in the fifties you could easily tell Coletranes sound from that of Cannonball Adderly’s.

Finally we got to Rentapao.  Right as we pulled up my phone rang, it was a hotel wanting me to stay with them.  The bus company was giving out my phone number which is what I get for not signing a phony on the register.  And over there was an ATM.  No good, it wouldn’t take my card.  I asked around for another and found it, that one was busted and the night gaurd said it would be fixed in an hour.  So I sat on the curb and waited, unable to eat or sleep, aching from want of both.  By and by, some kids came by.  Guitarists, both of them, so we began to talk Jimmy Hendrix, their favorite.  I told them how I loved the drummer Mitch Mitchell and they agreed that he was also great.  By and by, I explained my plight to them.  There was another ATM around the corner as it turned out, two of them actually and these kids drove me there on back of their bike and dropped me off.  They drove off with a smilling waving American hollering his thanks and praise over and over, “you both make me think so much of the Toraja people!”  I called.  Finally, a shimmering light in the darkness.  They drove off and I waited for ages at the first ATM.  The man I had been waiting for emmurged from the tiny ATM booth, announcing that it too didn’t work.   Next door I tried the other one, the crowd of people sitting around outside told me that the last ATM machine in the entire city of Rentapao was also broken.  Back to the first one, finally here was the guy was busy trying to fix it.  After fifteen minutes of waiting he came out and said that he couldn’t.  I wanted to cry but lacked the energy.  Maybe, maybe I could find a nice old lady to feed me a bowl of rice and let me sleep on her floor.  It was raining now and I was out of options.

I knew it wasn’t the end of the world.  I knew I wouldn’t die, I knew that I would be better, and I knew this was a problem with a solution.  I kept going, but the smile was long gone.   Its been a long time since I have felt that hungry, or tired, or desperate, or alone, or helpless.  It has happened, and I have been worse off, but it’s been a while.

For a while I wandered looking for an Indno mart, the Indonesian 7-11 which could do cashback on purchises and learned that none existed in Rentapao.  I went back to the Atms, bouncing from one to another in a daze.

Finally, one of them had a guy working inside the both, the front door of the machine was open and this guy was somewhere deep fiddling around with the ATM guts within.  Shortly, he came out nodding and a guy went in after him.   An old brittish guy with a young fine looking Indonesian wife told me Everyone had spent everything for Christmas and there had been a run on the ATMs so no cash in the entire city.  Hell, that explains things.

Next was my turn.  I was skeptical.  Too many times had I been burned this night.  My hopes were as low as my morale.

I punched in my pen number.

On the screen the pen number looked like this:


I pushed the button next to a million rupiah, which is still a lot but not as much as it sounds.  Come on, come on, I held my breath, come on baby, come to papa……

It worked!!!!!!!!!!

Shit yeah, and when I exited the tiny booth I tried to tell the old Brittish guy how extatically happy I was about it and about everything that had happened the past long hours but he didn’t care.  He looked at me like I was on crack and not making sense.  Fair enough, maybe I came across that way.

The Chinese place next door directly to that ATM provided me with fried orange pork and enough noodles for four people, a completely unneccisary comp bowl of rice and a can of coke, all of which was gone a few minutes later.  I let out a mighty burp and a sigh.  Then I took a becak to a hotel the lonely planet guide book said had hot water showers, which was really not so much to ask.  I got there and the hot water was off for the night so no hot water, and I collapsed for the next God knows how many hours with my clothes still on.


Not everyday spent with a backpack is a fucking picnick, folks.

Always keep a little money socked away just in case.

Next I will tell you about the four or five amazing days of my trip in Tana toraja.  It was really great.  I will have pictures too.  Completely amazing!!!!!  Just you wait.

6 Responses to “tired, hungry, broke, but far from broken”

  1. Amy Bugg Burke says:

    I’m glad things finally worked out for you Will, and that you were able to get some food and a place to say. Sounds like the day from hell. Also glad to hear that the next part of the story will be happier!

    Today is New Year’s Day. Last night, we went to Monty’s girlfriends for a New Year’s party…it was fun, but we were definitely thinking of you, and thinking how you were already enjoying the new year somewhere in Indonesia. I am so very excited about the wonderful things that 2010 will hold for me and Ryan, and I hope that you are out there feeling excited and hopeful too! Love you and miss you!

  2. Tonia says:

    Whew! Had me worried for a bit my friend! Happy New Year and by the way, thanks for always putting forth the effort to write. I can’t wait for long stories in person!

    • Will Sanders says:

      can’t wait to sit with you and my pops and jeanie this summer at that bar and tell you all of them, Tonia. I can’t wait!

  3. Marcus Rosentrater says:

    What’s a coolie? You have a cell phone?

    Good call on the Miles Davis. Perhaps that will be a good listen this afternoon.

    I was commenting to someone the other day, I think it was Mary Beth, about how you’re attitude is so perfect for traveling. God laughs at those who plan or something like that. Anyway, not that I enjoy your struggle, but I do enjoy reading about you facing these challenges. You take them head on, own up to your mistakes and deal. It’s admirable, really.

    If what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, then Indonesia is like your Gold’s Gym. Or maybe Muscle Beach. Nevermind, skip it.

    • Will Sanders says:

      A coolie is the name for someone who’s job it is to fetch things for people, usually in a jungle situation. I do have a cell phone, I can send you the number if you like. I thank you for your kind words about my travel ethic. It really is fun to have crazy adventures and not know where or how you will end up, for some reason I guess I am wired that way.
      I have only just now gotten two bits of spam but this time they are more amusing, on for jesus and one for carpet cleaning. I haven’t walked on a carpet in months!!!!
      take care. I will try to call you soon but skype is all on the fritz

    • Will Sanders says:

      furthermore, you have some of my Miles Davis records if you dig them out. I can recommend one that I want to say was called ESP, not sure. It was a white sleeve with a photo on the front with him looking at a pretty girl in awe. That one is worth a spin, and I think I had one with him at newport on side A and Thaloneous Monk at newport on side B. I am sure you know the birth of cool, bitches brew, kind of blue, all the biggies. There were so many different sounds from different times from Miles Davis, and you almost can’t go wrong. I say that but I do have one of his from the early 80s in there with way too much synth for my jazz taste. I like to think of that as his ‘we are the world’ period. Other than that, he was almost always great. I can’t remember what other miles I had in there, but I am sure you dug through it all by now anyways.

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