Graham Allan has arrived, with lots of gifts.....new tyres for Fiona, bandanas from Canteen for me, gifts from Dr John, a huge pile of Em's Power Cookie Bars, (thanks Em for the great deal, they are yummmy), and a lovely letter from Canteen (thanks guys, loving your work) He had also booked us into a posh hotel....flushing toilets with toilet paper, warm showers, and AC. Luxury..... So while Graham put his bike together....I kicked back and enjoyed the unaccustomed comforts. Had a little bit of a problem getting Fiona into our room. Grahams bike was hidden in his Tardus (Ground Effect bikebag), but for Fiona to join us "sorry mister it is impossible". I cried.....and they took pity on me. Fiona joined us for the night.
Once his bike was sorted we went for a stroll. I wanted Graham to get the feel of the city traffic, as we would be biking through it in the morning. I think he was suitably scared. We also had a lesson on crossing the roads as a pedestrian, and our first Indonesian meal together. Everything is awesome, to quote my grandson Sebastian.
Sunday morning, and we breakfast and pack early, and are out in the street by just after seven am. The street is deserted......its the final day of the Religious Festival. Everything is closed...even some if the streets. There are massive prayer sessions happening. Hundreds are praying, stretching right across the street. Men in one group. Women and children further back. The loud Calling to Prayer seems to be doing overtime from all quarters at once. But the kind policemen let us cycle through the road blocks, and with NO traffic, the riding is a breeze. And then we start to climb.
We have climbed gently all day. Graham starts strongly. It is also reasonably warm, so he begins to sweat freely. I'm very happy. He is experiencing so much of what I've been doing for the last six weeks, so early in the trip.
We also get to see the butchering of all the goats and cows that have been tethered at the side of the roads all week. Groups of men, sometimes whole families, sometimes whole communities, are working together to share out the meat. Some of the groups are almost in party mode. At one stage, Graham goes to get some photos of the goings on. Almost immediately, I'm surrounded by 20 kids, all keen to chat and introduce themselves.
I manage to get them all singing and chanting, just adding my little bit of chaos to the proceedings.
For most of the day, Graham shoulders the brunt of the Scooter tooting and the Hello Misters. What a fantastic friend. It's so great having him here. But around lunchtime the constant climbing and the heat, (and I'm sure the Jet Lag), start to take a toll. I am in front when the Senator stops me and invites us to his home. Graham is slumped in the shade, with his head between his knees. I think maybe we should take the opportunity for a break. We follow the Senator in his car to his house, and are led around to his back yard. There is loud music...surely some sort of party happening. NO. It is the local School Principal, and friend of the Senator, playing with his personal Kareoke. We are offered tea and coffee. We are served up coconut ( our second of the day). We are offered rice and green beans, beef and chicken. We talk about politics, families, schools, and take photos....and then we have to sing.......for our supper.....Yes Fletch I did.....
As we leave, the whole family appears. It's lots more photos and fond goodbyes. We leave them all to continue to celebrate the religious festival together, as many families seem to be doing, in
their traditional dress. The Senators family however, will not have quite as much food to share as that might have expected. The generosity of these people is amazing.
We continue to climb steadily but gently. Graham is really starting to hurt. But the Senator has promised a Loseman within the next 15km. For Graham it is a tough 15km. By my reckoning, he has risen from Hero status, for joining me here in Indonesia, to Superhero status, for getting to the Losman, without one swear word ( that I heard). Thanks Graham. It's fantastic having you here. I believe we only have to climb half of the day tomorrow.