• theGREENtravelbug

Slowest scooter accident ever

Mis à jour : 3 déc 2019

After my first ferry ride from Kupang to Larantuka, I had officially started hopping from one Indonesian island to another. Thirteen hours on the boat without a bed and some inconsistent naps on metal chairs had exhausted me. My companion, whom I had met while boarding, was the only other English speaking person I could find on the boat. He proposed me to stay in his hotel in Larantuka. When we arrived at 4:30 am , I went straight to bed to recharge my 'body batteries. When I woke up, I had some brunch and went out to explore the picturesque town and researched what I wanted to do on the island. The idea of going off the beaten track and climbing Lewotobi volcano intrigued me and I started planning.

At night I shared dinner with Mathias, my ferry companion and the hotel co-owner. We exchanged our travel stories and played each other's music. At one point in the conversation Mathias argued that it was about time that Timor Leste thanked Indonesia for everything they had done for them. He felt that Indonesia had helped with infrastructure, investment and education and that the oppression and violation of human rights was overrated. Having learned a lot about the bloody history of Timor Leste, the mass starvation, torture and the deaths of millions, it was hard to not be emotionally affected. Still, I remained calm. After all many European countries don't have a colonial history to be proud of either. The conversation shifted away from politics after Mathias had glorified some of President Trump's actions and I mentioned my hike to the volcano. The hotel owner was happy to supply advice and organize transport for me. When I mentioned I still wanted to get some fruits and snacks for the hike, he insisted on driving me there on his scooter. I said I would be okay to walk as well, since it was not that far to the market, but this almost seemed to offend him. When I asked if he had a helmet for me, he waved it away as a trifle affair. He then urged me to step on behind him. We drove off to the market.

Along the way, he proudly explained the history of the town while mentioning all the different sights. Gliding along the chaotic traffic, we made our way to our destination. A stroll along the market vendors, soon attracted a lot of attention. Not many foreigners visit Larantuka, so it made sense that so many eyes were following me as I picked my fruits for the trip. I made sure to quickly find what I needed. I wanted to catch up on some more sleep before the big hike the next day. When Mathias offered some more sightseeing, I gently declined and mentioned I felt like sleeping soon. We got on the scooter, ready for the drive back, and turn the vehicle towards the traffic. Mathias did not seem to control the manoeuvre very well. The bike was leaning towards the traffic. He jerked to the other side. Twice, we swung from side to side until we fell away from the traffic.

We slowly fell towards the trenches and we landed in a pit, which was about 90 cm deep. Everything seemed to happen at half speed. I saw how we fell. I noticed the scooter falling on top of us and, without thinking, I acted. My leg slipped around the bike and I landed on my shoulder, ready to hold the weight of the bike. I managed to hold the bike for a while after the fall. We looked up and we saw dozens of faces. We were surrounded by bystanders who had seen the fall. We checked if we were okay. Mathias had some scrapes on his elbow and I had, by some miracle, not even the slightest scratch on my body. We pushed the bike out of the pit and made our way through the crowd. Mathias kept on apologizing, blaming his fatigue for losing his balance. He wanted to drive home as soon as possible. A couple of meters driving later, I checked my pocket and noticed my phone was missing. I asked to stop, ran to the pit, jumped in, grabbed my phone and made my way through the curious crowd once more. As I stepped back on the bike, I vowed to myself that from now on I would always be careful and aware in traffic. An accident without a helmet could have ended differently. I had been lucky and I knew it.