Tag Archives: Timor

My answers to Nosy Questions #2

  1. Tell us how you met your partner. Please be specific in telling your tale. He was reading his poetry at a coffee shop in Santa Monica, California. I was 38 years old and had never been married but when I saw him, I immediately recognized him as the man I’d been waiting for. I didn’t go up to the stage afterwards as there was a crush of other women there wanting to talk to him. I was going to the University of Iowa that summer for their writing program, but when I got there, I thought, “What am I doing here when the man I’m supposed to marry is back in CA?” So I walked out of the dean’s office without registering  and went back to CA. A few months later, he came to one of my poetry readings (I still hadn’t met him at this point) and I saw him in the audience and changed the poem I was going to read to read one that dealt with my breakup with my boyfriend so he’d know I was available. It worked. He came right up to me after the reading and a year later we were married. It was my first marriage and his third. I had no children. He’d had 10!!! Four were still small and I helped raise them for the 15 years before his death.
  2. What is your most romantic experience, again with details? I fell in love with a man in a very remote spot in Africa. After about a week, we decided it was not going to work and I left to work my way northwards and to eventually make it to England, where I would find work. Events, however, made it necessary for me to stay on and not to immediately leave for Khartoum, where I was to meet a travel companion. In a few weeks, the matter that had detained me taken care of, I was ready to leave on a plane the next day when a letter arrived for me in poste restante. It was from my lover. In it he said it was the biggest mistake of his life sending me away and that I should come back and live with him until we were driven out by the rainy season and that then we would travel to all the places we had discussed and eventually get married. There were no phones in the remote area where he worked and so I had no way to reach him, but I cancelled my flight to Khartoum and got a flight on a small plane to fly to where he was. When I climbed down the stairs of the plane, there he was… his arms full of flowers. Later, when I asked his friend how it was that he knew I was coming, he said, “Judy, he met the plane with his arms full of flowers every day for a week. The Seven Olives hotel gave us permission to cut flowers from their garden.”  That night we went to dinner at the Seven Olives, the only small hotel in town. To get to the dining room, we had to walk through their gardens. They were totally devoid of flowers!”
  3. What is the most extravagant purchase you’ve ever made, and why did you buy it? A Jaguar SJ6. I’d met a man, a poet, at the Santa Barbara Poetry Conference. He was a man who got along on a lot of charm and very little money, which did not both me, but when he came down to visit me in Huntington Beach, he very quickly  wore out his welcome. He was getting grouchy and demanding, so one day we drove to Newport Beach and on the way stopped by the Jaguar agency to test drive a car just for the fun of it. This was supposed to be a lark. I’m sure he thought I was as down on my luck he was as I was staying in my friend’s guest room and, having run away from my life in Wyoming and come to the coast by train with one suitcase, I seemed to have very few worldly goods. But unbeknownst to him, I had just sold my house in Wyoming and had few expenses as my old friend’s estranged husband was paying for half her very low house payment and I was just splitting the other half with her, so when the salesman started negotiating, I bought the car, writing out a check for the full amount. My “friend’s” jaw dropped and his face was still frozen in a flabbergasted expression as we drove home in it. On the way home, I asked him when he was heading back to Santa Barbara. He left that night and I never saw him again but I surely did enjoy that car.
  4. What is your favorite swear word or expression, and when are you most likely to use it? “Asshole!” I’ve used it a lot since Trump came into office. Prior to that, I’d reserved it purely for rude drivers!!
  5. What is your favorite kind of pie? With or without ice cream? Chocolate pie with vanilla ice cream.
  6. While we’re on the subject, what is your favorite ice cream, and where did you last eat it? Pistachio Gelato. I last had a double dip at the Laguna Mall food court in Ajijc a few weeks ago.
  7.  Who is your most unique friend and why? (May be someone from the past.) My most unique friend is Forgottenman. He has the cleverest and quickest mind of anyone I’ve ever met. He’s quirky and loyal and corrects my apostrophe errors on my blog. And I love his bald head.
  8. What is your most irritating habit? My sister would say it is humming under my breath.
  9. Who was your favorite teacher and why? I’ve written about him HERE.
  10. Do you like being alone and if so, what would you probably be doing? Yes. I would be blogging or doing art or playing spider solitaire or in the pool, throwing balls for Morrie to fetch.
  11. What is the most outlandish thing you’ve ever done? Rented a WWII tank carrier to sail around the coast of Portuguese Timor through waters inhabited by Bugis pirates.I was young and stupid. you can read about it HERE.
  12. What superstition do you always follow? I never walk under ladders and if a black cat crosses my path when I’m driving, I turn around and go in the opposite direction for a block or so before going around the block and continuing on my way. I do not dislike black cats. I think they are beautiful and I would have one as a pet., just as I would climb a ladder. I just don’t walk under them or cross the path of a black cat. I also throw spilled salt over my left shoulder. Always.
  13. What famous person or animal have you met? Tell us about the meeting. HERE is my story about meeting John Wayne.

 

These are my answers to my own question Challenge, Nosy Questions.

Ta Da!!! Finished. Now you tell me your stories!!!!!

Foreign Tongues

Portugese Timor, 1973, Setting off on a WWII Troop barge into the Timor Sea

Ciao, Adios, Auf Wiedersehen, Adieu

When I was young, I traveled far
from Germany to Zanzibar.
Australia, Bali, France and Spain,
to Africa and back again.

And though I mostly loved them all,
from Venice to the Taj Mahal,
as my departure time grew nigh
I had to voice a sad goodbye.

To Ethiopia I strayed.
For eighteen months I stayed and stayed;
and when I had to leave too soon,
I had to say “dehena hun.”

In college days, when I was young,
German was my foreign tongue;
but when to Frankfurt wir mussten gehen
I just remembered, “Auf Wiedersehen.”

The French were rude and cold and snotty.
They mocked my accent and were haughty,
so while I had to bid “adieu,”
I’d have preferred to say, “pee-ew.”

Florence thrilled me from the start.
Their lasagna is a work of art.
When I left, they all said, “Ciao.”
Their kitties, though, all said, “Miao.”

I never went to Israel
but nonetheless, I’m proud to tell,
the rabbi books? Read every tome.
So I know how to say “Shalom.”

Though “Arigato” is bound to do
when you want to say thank you,
Sayonara” is the way to go
to bid farewell in Tokyo.

Bali’s full of dance and art
that treat your eyes and fill your heart.
I must admit, I had a ball
before I said “Selamat tinggal.”

Mexico was saved for last
And now I fear my lot is cast
Since “Adios” I cannot say,
I’ve decided I will stay!

The prompt today is foreign.

Bali-Bound


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Bali-Bound

Germans, Aussies, Kiwi, Brit, Dutch, Canadians, Swiss.
I was the lone American who was pulled into this
adventure—just thirteen of us, including them and me
in a tank barge left from WWII, across the Timor Sea.
We did not know that Bugis pirates still set sail out there,
for we were young and reckless, and we didn’t care.
We still felt invulnerable. We would never die.
We all sought our giant chunk of the adventure pie.
We sailed all day and through the night and part of a new day.
Most of the cash that we had left was what we had to pay
to reach the west shore of an Island lashed by monsoon rain.
All bridges and all roads washed out, we searched for rides in vain.
A lonely store stocked not with much—some cans of cheese, two Cokes.
Not adequate provender for such starving, thirsty folks.
We crossed from Portugese Timor onto Indonesian ground.
Although we all had traveler’s checks, there was not much cash found
within our empty pockets, yet to Bali we were bound.
Still an unspoiled paradise—a haven with few cars
or partying Australians or honeymooning stars.

We stopped at one last little hut where I took off my sandals
to ease my feet, and thus were they made off with by some vandals.
And so it was that we set out through jungles vined and rooted,
fording rivers filled with leeches. I, alas, barefooted!
But chivalry was still in vogue and one or two or three
of my fellow travelers shared their boots with me
taking turns at walking barefooted for awhile
as we walked through the jungle, mile after mile.
Till late in the afternoon we came across an inn
(By then my resolution grown dangerously thin!)
Alas, we had no money for dinners and our room,
and here was where the two Swiss guys dispelled our sense of gloom.
They traded the two ten-speed bikes they’d carried or they’d ridden
most of their way around world—and they did it unbidden
by any of us, for we knew those bikes were like their kin;
and yet they gave up both of them for one night in this inn
for all of us, plus dinner—a repast full and rich,
and furthermore, our breakfast and the promise of a hitch
on a truck loaded with grain bags that was headed out tomorrow.
They did this for all of us and did not show their sorrow.
After showers poured from pails, (I noticed, I’d grown thinner)
some of us had a little nap and then a welcome dinner.
And when the Germans both pulled out their guitars for a song,
the sons of our innkeeper brought out theirs and sang along!
We all chipped in to teach the lyrics to Bobby McGee.
Our beds and food cost dearly, but the music was all free.

Next morning, we climbed high upon the grain bags for our ride
while Indonesians hung onto the rear and either side.
That truck looked like a peddler with his wagon piled high,
not with the usual notions, but with humans far and nigh.
We rode along uncomfortably, hour after hour.
No songs for us this long, long day, our mood was turning dour.
When it was nearing dusk, that truck gave one tremendous lurch
that very nearly threw us all from our precarious perch.
The Indonesians climbed on down and vanished all but one,
while the drivers told to us this next stage in our fun.
The axle cleanly broken, they would start out to get aid.
They’d come for us tomorrow—but they wanted to be paid!
We waved them off with promises—just one more awful bungle
and looked around for sleeping spots in this dense, darkening jungle.

We settled on a little hillock clear of trees and vine.
Rolled out all our sleeping bags. On what were we to dine?
One tiny little can of cheese and sardines in a tin
and those two Cokes we’d purchased—our provisions were most thin.
Hans had pellets with him meant for purifying water.
Guys headed out in search of it like lambs led to the slaughter.
The sky was darkening, but I knew I had to go to pee.
I headed down to where the trees afforded privacy,
pulled down my pants and put my hand, to balance, on a tree
when a sudden piercing pain shot from my hand through all of me!
I screamed and all my traveling friends came running down the hill.
I think of all my crises they were soon to have their fill.
I felt as though a burning dart had pierced through my right hand.
Toppled and now hobbled, I was unable to stand.

They helped me pull my pants up, sadly with a still-full bladder
as I heard the Timorese man say that it had been an adder.
I’d die within the hour, there was nothing we could do.
They emptied all their pills out and decided I’d take two
of everything we carried in our pockets and our packs,
for all of us were traveling with a drugstore on our backs.
To wash them down they offered up the ultimate in gifts:
the Cokes that we were hoarding, then they sat with me in shifts.

My finger swelled to such a size that the one ring I wore
cut off circulation until Peter cussed and swore,
“We’ll have to cut it off, so Trevor come here with your knife.
We have to cut if off of her to try to save her life.”
They put my hand upon a rock, I was delirious.
Trevor was looking rather green. Could they be serious?
He brought the knife down to my finger, but his wrist went limp.
The Germans gave a severe look, as though he were a wimp.
They told him to get on with it, but still he chose to linger.
“I just can’t do it,” Trevor said, “I can’t cut off her finger!”
“Not the finger, fool,” they said, “Just cut the ring away!”
And Trevor used the saw blade, for he had no more to say.
All night they held my arm aloft and manned the tourniquet,
It’s clear to me that I will be forever in their debt.
When I hadn’t died after an hour, the old man rubbed his eyes
and said it was another snake and I’d be paralyzed
on my right side but wouldn’t die—somewhat of a relief,
and still, I must admit I viewed paralysis with grief.

Eight hours later, still awake, I heard a distinct pop
and the swelling went down, but the throbbing did not stop.
Years later when I read “The Pearl” by Steinbeck just for fun,
when the baby nearly died, stung by the scorpion,
in just eight hours the swelling went down. That’s how I came to see
that it was probably a scorpion that had stung me.
They came with a new axle and we were on our way
and made it to our destination later that next day.
We caught a plane to Bali, but I got there in a haze,
to fall in bed where I was passed out cold for three more days.
Covered with red rashes from the rivers that we’d forded,
we were treated by the women in the houses were we boarded,
who tended to our wounds from leeches and our dysentery.
Yes, Bali then was paradise, but entrance wasn’t free.

Still, we’d paid the price and we were there right at the start,
before the rush of travelers destroyed some of its heart.
We rented bikes and rode the island, town to town to town
without meeting any traffic to try to mow us down.
A quarter for our rooms each night, a quarter for our lunch.
A lobster dinner for fifty cents—we were a happy bunch.
Processions down the streets at night, where gamelans abounded.
and temple ceremonies—all-in-all, we were astounded.
Magic mushrooms by the grocery bag cooked into omelets for us,
everywhere we went, the people just seemed to adore us.
Kuta beach was lazy then, and as we strolled along,
the most commercial thing we faced to buy was a sarong.
No beggars and no hawkers and no motorbikes to meet.
No half-an-hour to stand and wait to try to cross the street.
You might have guessed from hints I’ve given that there’s been a change.
Everything has altered now and become very strange.
Poppies restaurant—a tiny place in ‘73,
has grown into a restaurant chain with dishes gluten-free.
Hotels abound and hawkers flog their watches on each street.
Young Australians in each bar must drink to beat the heat.
We lived on just one dollar a day, in homes on Kuta Beach,
for there were no hotels yet anywhere within our reach.
There are more stories I could tell, and might, another day.
This tale has gone on for too long, so I must fade away.
But first I must apologize for this long-winded view
and say if you’re in Bali, we were there ahead of you!

The Prompt: Avant Garde—From your musical tastes to your political views, were you ever way ahead of the rest of us, adopting the new and the emerging before everyone else?