© 2012 Photo Daniel Miralles / http://mandragorafoto.com/
Story Daniel Miralles and Charalee Graydon
I woke up at midnight. My sleep was interrupted by a strange sound from
some animal. It wasn’t a terrifying sound but it was very loud and best
described as the sound ¨KEEKO¨. It was repeated at regular intervals and
seemed to be coming from my door
I confess that I had not slept well before I had been awakened by the sound.
I was far away from my home and family. I was alone on this island in a town
perhaps not far enough away from the mountain, Agung, a smoking volcano
that, although dormant, was waiting for the moment that it would once again
erupt. I worried that this moment might take place during my visit.
I thought of turning the light on in the room but quickly remembered that the
room did not have lights. The door locked from the outside with a padlock.
Once inside the room there was no way to lock it from entry. I could not hide
under the sheets as I had done when I was a child because there were no
sheets. I tried not to think of the huge black centipede that I had seen in the
corner of my room before I lay down to sleep. I tried to forget that the half
open door would allow entry of the abundant and variety of reptiles that I knew
lived in this area. I moved only enough to defend myself from the mosquitoes
that, with luck, would not bite me and transmit malaria.
For me the jungle had mystery and soul. Despite my fears the experience
reminded me of times that I had gone to the cinema to watch horror films. I
felt the same sense of excitement and anxiety. Yes, I was frightened but it is
the type of excitement that I enjoy. I remembered another voyage that I had
taken to Central America when I had heard the roars of the howling aulladore
monkeys in the forests. It was fright mixed with excitement. I had survived
that voyage and hoped that I would survive this voyage. I felt that I had
everything under control apart from the strange KEEKO sound. I wasn´t able
to sleep more. I could only lay still and wait for dawn.
With sunrise, I got up, grabbed my camera and prepared for the day ahead.
I was here to see the country and to learn from its people about their way of
life. At the time of my visit the country was composed of more that 15,000
islands and 240 million people. The poverty in rural areas was evident despite
the country’s rich and exhuberant soil. I saw that the rivers and sea provided
sufficient produce to ensure that no one would starve. I was a foreigner in
a new land and learning rapidly the different ways of life of my hosts. For
example, I was surprised to learn that this area had no banking establishments.
I found out that most people had no money to put in a bank. My observation
was that the political powers in the country were crushing the lives of the local
I remember speaking with a farmer in a rice field about his life and comparing
it to my life in Spain. He was amazed when I told him that I would soon
become the father of my second child and that the child would be a boy. He
asked me how I knew that it would be a boy. I explained but he had difficulty
understanding the existence of the technology of ultrasound. He did not even
know his own age. That was because most adults in this area were illiterate
and did not make note of the dates of birth of their childen. There was even
greater confusion because of the use of two different calendars; the country
used the traditional lunar calendar as well as the solar calendar brought to the
country in modern times.
During my conversation with the farmer, he received a telephone call on his
cellular phone. The phone was one of the latest models. How was it that his
man could have such a modern and up to date phone? It was not because he
was rich. It was because of the inexpensive cost of production of such items in
Even though the farmer didn´t know how to read or write, he spoke English
much better that I did. I also learned that he understood dignity and had
respect for other people. When he prayed, he gave thanks to the divinities that
had given him his existence without asking for anything in return. I realized
that I would like to learn those qualities.
That night, on another island, in another rainforest and in another grotty but
marvellous room, I again heard the sound KEEKO. This time my fear was
transformed to curiosity, ¨what type of animal can make that sound?”
On that island I met a young man on the beach. He was obviously trying to
attract the attention of tourists who were strolling on the sand. He was from
Sumatra and was teaching the techniques of surfing for just a few rupias. He
was working for the school of Surf. When I spoke with him he told me that
his wealthy foreign boss kept most of the money that he earned from the surf
lessons and that he took home only a small percentage of what was paid by the
I bought lunch for him that day. Lunch was Nasi Goreng fried rice in soya
sauce with eggs and a choice of chicken or fish. He told me that he lived with
his mother and that she had not been able to pay the rent for several months.
He confided that his job at Surf did not provide enough money for him to live
and that he wanted new work. Despite his financial woes, he finished our
conversation by boasting of his amorous pursuits with tourists from around the
world. It lightened the discussion as we parted.
My next experience was under water. I was wearing only flippers, a bathing suit
and goggles. The sea was full of life. I had never imagined anything like this.
The reef was only 150 meters from the beach and in it the best concerntration
of marine life that I had ever seen in my life. Coral in all forms and colours,
well conserved, hundreds of exotic fish of all types, a turtle eating at the sea
bottom while a globe fish revoved around him. It was not necessary to look
for barracudas because they are curious and look for you. To admire mantas
and inoffensive sharks it was better that you search for them. Marine life was
crowded together at the coral reef: the visibility was excellent, the temperature
of the Indian Ocean very agreeable all of which invited me to spend more time
in the water. The experience was invigorating. Like my KEEKO adventures, this
was an activity that was often repeated during my visit.
The major things that brought me to this country were the hours that I passed
in the sea, the exotic islands with their distinct sustoms, languages and
religions. One of the most memorable aspects of my trip was the kindness and
generosity of the people and my recognition of their values. It was the flowers,
trees, birds, lakes and volcanoes that were sacred and respected. I felt that
the people were living in tune with their surroundings. I had a sense that this
allowed them to live and breathe in harmony with nature. I had never before
seen people so poor with so many riches.
As my trip finished I took account of the parallels of my voyage and the KEEKO
mystery, the two unknowns. Once having discovered the place and the
people, I was able to give thanks for having travelled there. With KEEKO it was
the same. Some hours before my departure a fisherman explained to me that
the animal that cries KEEKO is a little dragon, not more than seven centimetres
in size and totally inoffensive. He also told me that I was very lucky to have
had a KEEKO at the door of my room. With a laugh the fisherman said that
KEEKO is a good friend to have. A KEEKO eats all of the mosquitoes that it can.
It is possible that a KEEKO may have saved my life.
Ah! Should I ever forget, I met KEEKO in Indonesia.
Charaleeg WILL PUBLISH THIS ARTICLE IN SPANISH SOON.