Our driver arrives exactly 4 hours late, at 10 pm, after the Spanish couple had flaked on us. We regretfully inform the man that we must cancel our trip, and pay him 500,000 rupiah for one day’s car rental even though we never set foot in the car. We are greatly disappointed with the Spanish, who were the whole reason we agreed to go on the trip, as we could have split the cost between 6 people instead of just 4. Our driver says he will shower and change and then send us text message so he can lead us down to Kuta for make party. As soon as he leaves, we realize he had left the front gate open and allowed our host’s new puppy – Kaya – to escape into the night. Exhausted from waiting hour after hour in the heat, we comb the neighborhood on foot and moped, calling the dog’s name and searching rice paddy, ditch, unlit homestead, and trash-heap. After a solid hour, the German next door pokes his head over the wall and says, “Are you looking for a dog?” What joy, what joy, the prodigal pup has returned! We call the driver, tell him we go make party after all, and follow him to a lush compound down the street, where we quaff drinks and make friends with local surfers, Putu and Awi and others. At 1 am, our convoy of 3 bikes heads south-east, taking back alleys and flying between ancient city walls, our scooters low on petrol, running on fumes. In Espresso Club, I sing backup vocals on Paradise City by Guns & Roses, elbow-to-elbow with the Singaporean headman. For an hour, a wasted-drunk New Guinean aboriginal man with long dreadlocks rakes his fingernails across my sunburned back, grabbing and pinching Martin’s forearms so hard they start to bleed, screaming in our ears in his native and incomprehensible tongue. Security tells him to calm down twice but does not kick him out, even though Martin has already sworn at him in Czech and very nearly knocked his block off. The aboriginal realizes how angry he is making us, and so for a while he tries to appease us with gifts proffered from a small black hand, cigarettes and crumpled 2000 rupiah notes, warm beers and handshakes, scraps of trash and an empty packet of rolling papers. We finish eight rounds of Jungle Juice and then head for the local surfer hangout, meet girls, talk and dance with them, fall in love, meet different girls, and deal with the ensuing jealous confusions. The lights come on in the dance club and I realize with horror that I have dropped my keys. I turn to the first broom-wielding employee and ask him if he found a set; he pulls them out of his pocket. The other workers start chanting “100,000! 100,000!”; my friends join in, and I hand over my last big note, which I will regret later when the Malaysian professional ballroom dancer with braces on her teeth tracks me down on the street but won’t ride back to Changgu with me, as she feels I am too drunk to drive. For what it’s worth, I am a millionaire in Bali.
© americanifesto /場黑麥