From Indonesia With Dysentery, Part 3 of 3

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The two-week race was a blur of breakdowns, police encounters, briberies, hospitable Indonesians, collisions, and, above all, adventure. Röta loved to hate us. She broke down every other hour, but we fell in love each time she rose to the occasion, started up, and carried us over mountains, through jungles, and across the country – although, 2,000 km of the race was spent on the back of a truck.

The emotions overpowered as we approached the finish line. We rode atop the rickshaw, high fiving bus drivers with the open road ahead of us and miles of traffic trapped behind. I ripped off Röta’s doors, slammed a Bintang and beat my chest. I made eyes at all the gadis on motorbikes and settled in for a long night of celebrations. We were at it until well after the sun came up.

We did not finish first. I’m not certain that we even placed in the top ten. However, despite being towed by The Trident Thunderbolts across the finish line, despite breaking every last moving part on our rickshaw, and despite pausing for two days of convalescence on a volcanic lake, we were the only team to complete the race on time without ever having abandoned our ride. And that’s saying something.

It was with heavy hearts and aching heads that we bade farewell to our new friends. I realized something: it wasn’t the jungle, nor the beaches, volcanoes, cities, or booze that made Indonesia so delightful. It was the people, from Master Alex and his merry gang of fishing misfits, to Team Trident Thunderbolt, to the girls who all wanted a picture with me, to the stoned jungle guide diving at my crotch with a 14-inch knife.

Who am I kidding?

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It was Röta. Beautiful Röta and the beautiful Bintangs we shared. It was the 5am underwear-clad joyride while fleeing a middle-aged prostitute. The downhill-with-sketchy-brakes slalom from Lake Toba to Medan. The nighttime roman candle jungle assault. The terrible back-to-back 26-hour hate-fests on truck beds. The illegal freeway police escort. The smiles and waves and shouts of “Hello mister!” as Röta voiced her throaty growl while cruising over potholes at a blistering 40 km/h. It was how, even in her darkest hour, Röta would rise from the very depths of total engine failure to love us once more and deliver us those final few kilometers. Oh Röta, anda wanita cantik.

I love Röta. I hate Röta. She haunts my dreams and stalks my waking hours. Even now I see her transmission in my computer screen and feel her carburetor on my keyboard. Sometimes, when I turn the lights on in a dark room, I swear I see her beautiful red frame dart around a corner and out of sight.

Goodbye, Röta. Goodbye, jungle. For God’s sake, dysentery, please say goodbye.

Please.

Addendum

An abridged list of the 46 mechanical nightmares that occurred during the 14-day race:

  • Three head gaskets blown.
  • Axle stabilizer snapped in half.
  • Clutch cable housing melted.
  • Clutch cable snapped multiple times.
  • Suspension broke. Twice.
  • Rear right brakes shattered. On day one. No brakes at all for the next few days.
  • Brake line burst. Twice.
  • DIY horn was activated by scraping a wire against a screw.
  • Muffler fell off. Hourly. We regularly added asbestos to the seal.
  • Carburetor melted off.
  • Driveshaft broke free, smashing chunks out of the engine block.
  • Dashboard fell off.

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Josh Miles

Author Josh Miles

Josh Miles is president and chief creative officer at Killer Visual Strategies. After a youth spent in the farmlands of NW Washington, he moved to Seattle to study English and philosophy, during which time he developed a passion for storytelling and narratology. He put this passion to work with a Seattle-based film production company, working on multiple award-winning productions before joining Killer Visual Strategies (then called Killer Infographics) in 2012. He has since held numerous positions within the company, always driven by the passion to craft visual communication that helps clients better connect with their audiences. He now works with the executive and creative teams to define Killer’s creative and strategic vision for the future, while also meeting with clients and project teams to identify creative solutions and build lasting partnerships.

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