It’s 10:00 am on a beautiful and cloudy morning in the mountain village of Langa. My Mama with my day pack on her shoulder and I carrying my bright blue pack and bag of malkist crakers (from my family’s kiosk for the car ride), join the procession of ikat-stuffed bags up the hill to the waiting bus.
Surrounding the neon-painted bus plastered with various stickers and images – of a flight attendant/librarian(?) woman and a muslim woman wearing an American flag hijab – are all the people that over the past 11 days I have grown to love. People who have taken the time to teach us about the amazing and deeply-rooted culture and religion of Langa. Who have guided us on a 6 hour hike through the stunning savannah towered over by the enormous volcano, Inerie, to the haven of a black sand beach where we dined on a delicious meal of nasi, ayam, mie, sayur, and of course a giant coconut each.
The Neneks who have flashed us huge smiles of red betel nut teeth and the Mamas who have freely given big hugs and loud songs. The host siblings with their trips to soccer games and the kebun and their morning runs. And the high energy children eager to call out “hey mister!” (regardless of your gender), and grab your hand with their snot covered one.
Standing on that hill surrounded by laughter and a few tears I realized part of what makes Langa so special is that it really is just one big, loving family that has been so willing to let us become a part of it. Langa has such an amazing and strong community. A night did not go by without family, friends, and neighbors stopping by and immediately being served some minuman (drink) and makanan (food) or kids and parents enjoying the music blaring from the kiosk. For me it was so inspiring to be in a place that truly treats everyone like family, even 14 strangers only staying for 11 days.