SOVED Bengkulu and Some Things I Never Thought I Would Do

Selasa, 17 Mei 2016
Wake up and suddenly I am in Bintaro…. 

It’s been a week since I leave home and I am not going back at least until next three days. I really can’t wait to go home actually, but I have to get my head straight for tomorrow. I have been saying about this “big thing” to do. I will write it later in the next post about that “big thing”. For now, I believe the four days experience in Bengkulu deserves its own post.

Right after I returned from Suwarnadwipa, I moved back to my parents’ house. It had been almost eight years in Padang that I finally decided that it was enough. No matter what I face after it, the first thing I had to do is going home. The pick-up car would arrive at 5 PM and there were still several things I had not packed. I rushed my way from Suwarnadwipa. The heavy rain poured hard when I just reached Bungus. When I arrived at my rented room at 3 PM, I was drenched, tired, and anxious. I packed in hurry then the car came. I brought all my books, clothes, old matrass, and small clothes rack. That’s all my belonging. It wasn’t much. There were only a very few thing a have.

I arrived at my parents’ house at 9 PM. My parents and little brother somehow looked happy to see me home but I really was exhausted. My mom and dad helped to arrange the boxes then I just collapsed on my bed. 

It was a nice day the next morning I woke up. I still could feel the fatigue all over my body but seeing the sunrise peeking from the shoulder of Mount Marapi made me feel relaxed and calm. I had a nice homey breakfast, then when everyone off to work I did a big pile of laundry and unpacked my boxes. I watched TV, played with the babies of my cousins, and watered the flowers. I had two days before I had to go again so I really treasured it. I would have all the spare time in the world again at the end of this month and I could really do all the things I wanted to do when I was home. But now, this time, I had a DCA duty in Bengkulu. So, this is it;

SOVED Bengkulu was the 4th SOVED and the second time I got the honor to become the DCA. The date was from May 12th to 15th. I left from Bukittinggi to Bengkulu alone at 11th and this is one of the best thing I had ever done. At first, I thought leaving alone with a big bus from SAN company mean I have 20 hours of unbearable lonesome, boredom, and despair. Maybe I would puke my stomach out and arrived looking like a corpse in Bengkulu. Maybe someone on the bus would pickpocket me, or do nasty things. But really, I was all wrong. I was safe and sound, I didn’t get even the slightest nausea or carsick. I made sure I eat enough when the bus stopped for dinner in Gunung Padang, a place near the border between West Sumatera and Bengkulu. The bus run all night long but the speed wasn’t really fast. We expected to arrive in Bengkulu at 6 AM the next morning.

"Expected". The reality was the bus stuck in a place called Taba Penanjung, around 36 kilometers from Bengkulu. Apparently, there was a hard rain last night and it led to horrible landslide. The landslide blocked the road pretty bad and they needed excavators to clear it. The people said that the landslide wouldn’t get cleared before noon because the excavator need to be brought all the way from Bengkulu. That’s the moment when my peaceful road trip ends . I tried to wait and think positively, maybe they’ll clear it faster this time. But when it was already 7 AM, I started to see the point. It is really possible that I will be late, I was already late enough. I needed to arrive in Bengkulu University before SOVED Debating Seminar start. I met some other debater and adjudicator from UNP and UNSRI but I couldn't be relax even though I know that I am not the only one who would be late. 

Some local people started offering ojek and get the passengers to the other side of the landslide. People who needed to go to the airport and did not want to miss the plane were willing to pay. The ojek would go through a small village road on the hills, and people can get car, or bus, or other ojek, anything they could get, at the other side. I decided to take the ojek too. They wanted 20 thousand rupiah for a 2 kilometers ride. At normal condition, I would strongly protest that expensive price. But then, I just agreed and jump onto the motorcycle seat.

Apparently, finding car, or bus, or other ojek at the other side of the landslide was not easy. An old ojek man is willing to take me but not until Bengkulu, it’s too far. I tried to convince him with bigger money, but he didn’t budge. There was no car or bus I could take to Bengkulu because they all were stuck on the other side. Of course they were, I was so idiot that I didn’t think about it. I assumed that there would be plenty of angkot. But there was nothing. Bengkulu was still too far that the angkot didn’t reach that point of landslide. At that point, the road toward Bengkulu was empty, while the side leaving Bengkulu is stuck, didn’t move an inch. There is no point of taking ojek if I still stuck here. But I kept asking around, if anyone, ANYTHING, could take me to Bengkulu.

That THING turned out to be a tanker truck carrying vegetable oil from Bengkulu to Lubuk Linggau. The driver of the truck offered me a ride. He had been stuck there since 5 AM and he couldn’t wait all day. He said he would just come back to Bengkulu then leave again tomorrow. I was bending in a drain cleaning my shoes from mud when he just randomly threw my neck pillow to the passenger seat of his truck. I got stunned, hesitated. I did need a ride but that was not the ride I had in mind. It was a bloody tanker truck and there would be only me and this driver on it. I looked at that man; middle age, typical. But still, he was a complete stranger and God knows who he really was. He could be a serial killer, or rapist (Oh my dear God!). But at the balance of probability, he also could be just a husband and a father trying to feed his family, and for my faith to humanity I believed that the latter possibility is more likely. So I dragged my suitcase onto his truck, rejecting his help so I looked tough. I didn’t know why I think looking tough will save me from the horrible possibility. 

There was only 20 thousands rupiah left in my wallet. I didn’t know how to pay that man if he really took me to Bengkulu. He tried to start conversation, and I responded him a little bit excessively and over-friendly. I always did this. When I had this stupid idea that a stranger maybe will harm me, I tried to befriend them, be nice and relax. But this man really was not a serial killer (stupid me!). He took me to Bengkulu safe. When I tried to give him my 20 thousands, he rejected and just told me to go so I don’t get too late. Then, I was the one who question my own humanity. I felt ashamed for having nasty idea about that nice friendly truck driver. 

I arrived at Bengkulu University just in time. The opening ceremony hadn’t over yet so I took the time to take a bath at the toilet. That was the second ridiculous thing I did that morning. A lady stared at me in confusion that I had a towel on my head while struggled to put on my pants. She didn’t asked much, Thank God, but it was still an embarrassing moment.

So, there went SOVED. I had a great time meeting the old and new people. Unand sent two teams, Paul and Elsa, Dian and Kevin (they went straight here from Pekanbaru after NUDC Regional), and Widya as our N1. That was very nice and lovely, having this kids around. I felt like this is the real AO, the one I love. Not to mention that we made it to the final round this year and claimed the second place. This was the first time. I was really happy with this and I knew I can peacefully leave now. They could manage all thing just fine.

That’s how SOVED 2016 goes. The AO kids went back to Padang, I continued my trip to Jakarta…

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