John M. Edwards visits the Indonesian Gilli Islands, a tripartite chain of paradise islets, ending up on Gilli Trawangan, where locals Gilligans follow us around and spy on us like flypaper paparazzi.
“I see India everywhere but I do not recognize any of it.”
–Rabindranath Tagore, Indian poet
Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale. . . .
“Hello, John!” the curiously canny kid said, eyes wide with the practiced veneer of a friendly sarong seller.
He came up to me and my ex-girlfriend Susan, with a stack of psychedelia. Oviously in need of a spanking, the kid just would not take the hint to get lost, scram, vamouse!
Like lightning we had attracted a swarm of his cohorts, laughing at our strange Western ways and begging for pens and candies.
“Uh, I’m afraid I’m fresh out,” I managed meekly.
Whoah! I thought. How on earth did they know my name?
All of a sudden, a vicious riptide pulled out a very fat Belgian tourist with an overt mustache, who was literally wrenched out into the middle of the ocean, where he bobbled dangerously like a personality disorder, or a beachball, beckoning for help.
Soon the Indo “Bay Watch” crew grew grim-faced and grabbed their
doughnuts, swimming maniacally out to rescue him.
Meanwhile the dusky-skinned kid coalition began waving and cheering, “Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!”
H. E. Double Toothpicks. This mise-en-scene was just like the South African film version of William Golding’s The Lord of the Flies.
“Cheerio, cheerieh, cheerio-o, cheerieh, cheery, cheery, cheery, cheery, cheery, cheery, cheerieh, cheery, cheery, cheery, cheery, cheery, cheery, cheerieh. . . .”
Safely ashore like a beached whale, the Belgian (a Walloon, actually) gasped for breath. I met him, only to discover as I neared that he smelled of rank moules frites and mayonnaise.
But oh, one of the best things about Gilli Trawangan, especially for a voyeur comme moi, was to play long games of backgammon with comely Eurotrash lasses, who seemed to like the attention, you see. Also, a short walk up the hill above the wooden-shack hostel where we were staying delivered a panoramic view of naked lovelies sudsing their glorious groodies in open-air Wektu-Telu-style showers, a local ethnic group re-known in the past for their cannibalism.
Even the coffee-complected Moslem staffers couldn’t resist a viddy, although the view provoked violent grimaces rather than approving grins. One of them even said, with obvious sour grapes about being born a Moslem (even though he was originally from Christian pagan Flores), “Fuck you!”
One thing about our amateurishly built shack of a room was that it was not at all private, rodents included. In fact, it featured tens of circular holes—sometimes with little eyes behind them.
One day while testing the mattress springs, grunting like rutting goats, we discovered under a magical spell of horror vacui that we indeed had an audience. A sea of eyes, like those of irisy paintings in haunted mansions, followed our every move. “Portefoy!”
“Aaayeeeeeeeeh!” Susan shrieked like a banshee, bolting up from my cumbersome cover and racing over to the far wall, pounding the wood to disperse all the pupils.
We were not laughing.
Until we did anyway in unison: