Sunday, September 18, 2005

Jakarta Traffic


Bajaj driver relaxing a bit before getting into the action

My Jakarta clean driving record went up in a giant puff of diesel exhaust the other day. I managed to get in three fender benders in about 20 minutes. My first one occurred when I refused to yield my position to the scourge of Jakarta roads, the public transport minivans. We began "the dance" properly enough. But it soon became evident that this merge was not going to end well as the minivanguy continued to pull into my lane and I continued to not yield. Laws of physics took over "when two moving objects attempt to occupy the same space ...." and the side of his car hit my front side bumper. The driver stopped and looked menacingly at me. I threw up my hands and did other stupid angry guy stuff. He then pulled over and checked the side of his vehicle for damage - of which there was about a 5 years worth of un-repaired fender benders. I got out of my car grumping and growling. He eventually conceded that the bump did no new damage to his vehicle and after a bit of drama scurried off to try someone elses patience. It was stupid all around - but these vehicles are one aspect of Jakarta traffic that I have not yet come to terms with.

Frazzled and rattled I carried on with my afternoon ritual. This involves driving to a few places all within less than a mile radius but takes a ridiculous amount of time because Jakarta traffic is stupider than guys when they get angry. My next annoyance occurred while I was dealing with the guards at the security stop for the neighborhood where our exercise club is located. I go here almost everyday and the guys act like they have never seen me before - actually I go through several times a day because I take Alicia there, leave and go hang out with Emmerson and then return to pick her up, exit and then enter yet again to go workout myself. This particular time they had some new thing where they actually made me present identification - the first time in two years. I found my wallet that was buried in my gym bag, and pulled out various cards for them to peruse. They saw my club member card and asked me why I didn’t have a sticker for my car. I told them because I was never issued one. This seemed to satisfy their desire to seem secure and they waved me through. As I was fumbling around with various papers, cards and my wallet, I took my foot off the brake to go forward. What I did not realize was that my car was in neutral and perched up a bit on the speed bump that they have at the security check. When I took my foot off the brake the car lurched backward into a motor scooter that was positioned about two inches off my back fender (space is a very relative concept). I stopped to survey the damage. The guy on the scooter was not concerned at all because nothing had happened to his scooter. But the security guys were trying to convince him otherwise - perhaps indicating “hey this is a grand opportunity for you to work this guy for some cash” - which indeed it was. They kept shaking various lose items on his bike implying that I was to blame - that most of the things they were fiddling with were moveable parts was irrelevant. The scooter guy just waved me on and I proceeded humbly on my way.

Dejected and disheartened I pulled into the downstairs parking lot at the club, drove to the spot where I typically park and began my pulling in ritual – which I have done hundreds of time without incident. But this was a special evening for me, and my car came to a sudden halt accompanied by an unpleasant crunching sound. I had miscalculated my turn and my bumper had crunched into the parking pillar.

Fortunately the guy who had the car before me decked out all the bumpers with reinforcement material so no physical damage was done, unfortunately I can not say the same for my emotional and psychological state. Jakarta traffic claims another victim.

Emmerson dealing with Jakarta traffic - going ....

going ....


Sunday, September 11, 2005

Summer Expedition

Base Camp - Freeport, Illinois at Mom and Dad Collin: Ross and Emmerson sporting her new "Sweet Child O' Mine" suit.

A little out of sync here with the posts but we were a little slow getting the pictures of our summer travels and visits ready. It's great living in Indo but is always a joy going home. The States is a pretty nice place. We set up base camp in Freeport, Illinois at Mom and Dad Collins. From there we made various excursions including trips to Indiana and Wisconsin. Alicia's relatives, Grandma Dorothy and Bill, graciously lent us their car; an Olds Delta 88 forged sometime back in the 80's. It was one of those great American cruising cars that seems to float down the highway. We also made a week long journey out to Colorado to visit more family and friends in the Denver area. This was Emmerson's debut in the States so I would typically say hi, present Emmerson and relegate myself to the background. It was great to see her interacting with all her cousins, aunts, uncles, grandmas, grandpas, and new friends.

Base camp fun: Emmerson enjoying her first swing at the famous Krape Park. It has a really old carousel, duck feeding, frisby golf course, running trails, swan paddle boats, and the name itself is an anagram to boot! We all enjoyed Krape Park very much.

Taming the carousel.

Base Camp: An evening at the park with Grandma and Grandpa.

The Wisconsin Excursion: We have several friends and a few family members in the Madison area. It was fun driving there in our borrowed highway cruiser through the rolling hills of northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. Quite the difference from Indo driving. This was at the cow shed. The state fair livestock competitions are serious business. This hefty heifer was getting her measurements taken for the "pageant" - a curvy 483-536-462.

Emmerson wasn't quite sure what to make of the food court at the fair. I think the reality that they deep fry cheese curds and snickers bars blew her mind -or maybe it was just Shelly.

Emmerson's first cow.

Solo Excursion: I went to Indiana to visit the Duell clan. The Indiana Duell's have all returned to the area where they grew up and are fruitful and multiplying. Alicia, Mom Collin and Emmerson drove me half way and met my Aunt, Carrie and Maddy. This was taken at Grandma Sally's, a very fine breakfast eatery in Wheaton where we did the meet and swap.

Nate, Kara and kids took me to the airport where we met Alicia and Emmerson and introduced the little ones to eachother. Then it was off to Colorado.

The Colorado Excursion: Emmerson's first experience with cold up in the Colorado Rockies. She flapped her arms and legs a lot and kept trying to taste the wind with her tongue.

Another scenic view from our drive up into the Rockies with Ardis, the kids and Nana Duell.

Emmerson with Papa Duell

Emmerson very excited about being baptized.

Emmerson with the Colorado kids.

Our reunion with friends from our days in Honduras who are all from the Denver area.

Return to Base Camp: Back in Freeport, Emmerson bonding with Oscar the giant cat.