The way it worked was this: While we needed passports to leave Indonesia, we did not need passports to travel to another of the islands that make up the country. Mom soon had my brothers, sisters, and me on a dilapidated bus, traveling across the rugged terrain of Bali. My older brother, Hacsi, and I camped out in he luggage racks while travelers in the seats below vomited out the windows of the bus as it maneuvered the mountainous terrain. Once we reached the part of the island closest to Java, we boarded a ferry that took us across the waters to the other island. There, we boarded a train that was bound for the islands capital — Jakarta.
Of course this train ride could not be an effortless trip. The train was loaded with Indonesian military officers, most of which were puffing on opium cigarettes. The train also broke down about half way across the island, and we had to walk in the dark, and board a second train to get to Jakarta.
I recall he consul at the American Embassy as being very stuffy and formal, at least to what I was used to. Yes, they would help us get deported. We had been listed as missing in America and both state and federal officials were searching for us. But who would pay for the trip back to he states? That duty fell on my grandparents in Wyoming, who footed the bill for their blood relatives. My mother’s then-boyfriend, Ron,and our family friend, George, who had been traveling with us, would fly home at the expense of the U.S.
When I think of Bali, I don’t usually think of this big adventure. My mind is filled with memories of the wild monkeys, the Barong dancers, the warm ocean and the primitive people, who up till that time had not seen many white-skinned people, and who would follow us everywhere and peer in to our bedroom windows, curious about our culture, as we were about theirs. The locals would literally follow us to the outhouse [literally a hole in the ground with a board to squat down on top of] to watch us go to the bathroom.
Arriving back in America and after debarking a plane at San Francisco International Airport, I dropped to my knees and kissed he ground, to which my mother gave me a thwack on the back of he head, saying that I was not being funny and that I should be more grateful for the experience.