Chapter 21 - Tropics

The tropics were full of strange things and little mysteries I was always fascinated with. For the most part, we were confined to a small island where we stayed at a bed and breakfast sort of place in traditional bungalos. We walked across the island, swam at beaches, ate the local food, and learned the language as we talked with locals. Many divers passed through the resort on their diving vacations, and I got a chance to meet people from across the world, some of whom would later on become my connections in the music industry.

When we weren't on the small island of Kepa, we travelled to other islands via boat, which was the only effective way to travel in the area. Crowded boats full of people, posessions, motorcycles and goats took us across the water to various islands where we rode motorcycles and walked to the most remote villages for Jerry's research. I found myself wanting out on various occasions, worried that being in a remote place with such a person was dangerous, but I always perservered and made it through the experiences.

The tropics were so very different. The people looked and acted different, they were poor in the remote areas, living off of subsistence farming, hunting and fishing. We explored beautiful natural volcanic rock formations, and even went as far as to explore volcainc craters themselves. I was particularily fascinated by a sulfur river coming from one of the larger volcanoes on Pantar. The river left beautiful, salty, sulphuric deposits by its sides, beginning near the crater in a massive, colorful sulfuric deposit. I found such great inspiration in the nature of this place, and there was something to be said for learning a new language as well. Learning Indonesian helped me expand my brain and write more. I was beginning to piece together lyrics I planned to sing later on, but was not fully aware of my decision to become a singer and musician.

We spent a full year in the tropics. I had a lot of time on my hands, so I worked on various projects. I built small toys and models from things I could find, especially what washed up on the beach. I collected shells, going to the shore every day to see what the tide had brought to us. I studied at home, having brought workbooks and books to read. I learned origami from books, folding various models ranging from simple to complex. I didn't have a piano however, so I improvised and drew keys on sheets of paper which I laid out in front of me to mock playing on. I learned the usual material I would have, or had learned in second grade before my injury, and read books to satisfy my interest in the outside world. I was a fan of fantasy and adventure novels as well as realistic novels, but I would read anything that could capture my interest. There were only several people who spoke English at the bed and breakfast so I mostly spoke Indonesian, though I improvised with what French and German I could remember.

The time passed by quickly. I wished I had a keyboard to play, as there wasn't even one on the island, but my improvisation seemed to entertain, and it was helping me learn to sing as I couldn't rely on the piano to play the pitches and chords I wanted to hear. Instead, I had to sing them as I found the notes on the paper. People took notice of my paper creation, and I sang for many people over the course of the time I spent in Indonesia, composing as I went.

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