And just like that, it was all over. We were standing in Jakarta airport, about to board our separate flights and a deep melancholic feeling settled over me. We had spent every moment of every day for the last 27 days together (miraculously without a single cross word being said) and separating from my “drunken, miserly, utterly self-assured” dad now didn’t just feel wrong, it felt like the end of an era.
Looking back at the original plan that we had drawn up at the start of the trip, we were surprisingly accurate. We had followed the basic route and hit the key places we had identified – apart from Bau-Bau and Wangi Wangi of Wanchee, because the drunken fat man at the bar had told Dad it was now a dump to be avoided – despite not really knowing any real information about the areas. Of course, we quickly learnt that traveling across Indonesia by ferries was something done only by romantics and lunatics and we abandoned that for unreliable passenger planes instead.
Getting off the grid was something else that proved impossible. In fact, rather than being isolated and cut off from the rest of the world for the month, we had to buy a 4G SIM card so we could constantly argue with the bank, book numerous last minute flights, and, of course, check for illnesses online.
It wasn’t the trip we thought it would be, but it exceeded all our expectations. But more than anything, I have come away from it with a love for this wild, incredibly diverse country and a seed planted for Papua – I will be back one day soon – and this time, having already been infected, I’ll come away without malaria!