After a long, long bus ride we finally made it to Banda Aceh; however, we made it to Aceh in the middle of the night and the bus station was located a few miles outside town. I’m beginning to believe that bus stations are purposely built miles outside of towns in order to create local jobs for taxi services. Instead of paying for a taxi ride to a hotel, then paying for a hotel room, then paying for another taxi ride to the ferry terminal, we opted to sleep at the bus station. We both felt that it was safe enough. Plus, it would save us a lot of money. So after searching around, we found a spot that would suffice for the night. I didn’t have a sleeping bag so Ian gave me his to sleep on, as he had a comfy mat that he would use.
The following morning, we decided that we would take the
At the ferry terminal I began to see something that I hadn’t seen for many days—westerners. I hadn’t seen this many westerners since volunteering at the project in
We got up early the next morning and left for the ferry terminal. When we arrived people were being allowed to board the ferry. This was a good sign. However, about 30 minutes after boarding the ferry they announced that, again, due to the weather, the ferry wouldn’t be departing. Ugh!
Ian, who was quite annoyed with the situation, didn’t want to stay another night in Aceh and expressed to me his wishes to travel, possibly, down the west coast or to
Ian and I would also went to see the new
“Yes, Barack Obama,” I responded.
“Obama,” he said, while pointing to his head, “is very intelligent, yes.”
It never fails, every time I tell someone I’m from
“I have to ask you,” he said, with a deep sense of curiosity written all over his face, “why do you come to
“Why did I decide to visit
“Yes, yes. Why did you come here? Not many Americans travel to
“Well...” I said, about to answer, just before he cut me off. “I find it funny that Americans are so afraid of me and my country.”
“Uh, huh,” I said, “Go on.” And he did.
“I watch all these American movies and everyone is so big and strong, fighting people. But then Americans are so afraid of me and the people of
“We are not Osama Bin Laden. He is one man; he does not represent the Muslim people. So, again, I ask you, why are Americans so afraid all the time?”
“You have made many valid points,” I said, “And I will try to give you the best explanation that I can, okay?”
“Yes, yes. Please, I want to know,” he said, anxiously awaiting a response.
“Uh, huh. Uh, huh,” he mumbled softly, nodding his head.
“But that’s why I’m here,” I continued, “I want to see the country and decide for myself. And do you know what? I think the people are great here; I think the food is pretty good; and I think your country is beautiful.”
“Okay,” he responded, “I just like Americans. All Americans that I’ve met are nice, good people. Maybe if you tell them about our country they will come here and won’t be afraid.”
“I’ll spread the word,” I told him.
Earlier in the day, Ian and I opted again not to get a hotel and to sleep at the ferry terminal. And since I had been wasting so much money on rides to and from the ferry terminal, I decided I’d walk there. After I bought some snacks from a grocery store I ventured off for a long walk in the night. You would think it was illegal to walk in the streets of Banda Aceh. You are constantly harassed to get a ride with some form of taxi service.
After a few miles of walking, a nice man with his son pulled up beside me on a motorbike and offered me the cheapest ride anyone had offered. My backpack was getting pretty heavy at this point, as well. I couldn’t say no. I ended up really enjoying the man’s company for the short ride to the terminal. He even offered for me to stay at his house once I told him where I would be sleeping. But because the ferry hadn’t left in a few days there would be many, many people wanting to take the ferry; and I had to make sure I was there early enough to get a ticket.
When we made it to the terminal the gates were shut. My driver let out a sigh and said the terminal was closed. However, after he honked his horn, a few guards came out of the darkness behind the closed gates and onto the pavement under the streetlight, making themselves visible. The guards and my driver began laughing and conversing in Indonesian. The guards said ‘hello’ and gave me a thumbs up.
“No problem,” my driver said, as the guards began to open the gates, “These are my friends, they let you in.”
“Ah, thank you! Terima Kasih!” I said to the guards, returning the thumbs up.
Once inside, Ian was standing in front of the terminal next to his bike. For once, he made it to a destination before me. He told me that we would be able to sleep inside the boat. We boarded the ferry and found it empty of any westerners, with only a few Indonesians. Ian would roll out his mat and sleep outside on the deck. I would sleep on top of a row of chairs inside. And before I went to sleep, I literally climbed on top of the ferry, laid back, turned on my ipod, and enjoyed the nice breeze coming off the sea under the clear skies of Banda Aceh.
Next stop: Pulau Weh