Carita, West Java, A trip with my pops, and a surprising cure for toddlers who just will not nap.

As you may recall, my dad, the gluten-free hiker, came to visit us here in Indo. You may also recall that I was terrifically excited about this fact (and not just because he came laden with a suitcase full of American retail goodness.) For, along with my dad comes adventure! And you all know I'm a sucker for a treacherous bus ride to some far-flung corner of the jungle. Having my dad around gave me just another excuse to pack up my kid and hit the road.

Off we went to Carita, on the West cost of Java.


I will admit that I did not go easy on my poor ol' pops. Less than 18 hours after hitting the Southern Hemisphere, I had him standing in rush-hour traffic, hailing down a long-distance bus for a several-hours-long journey wedged into the middle seat of a sardine can vehicle piloted by a driver who may or may not have had a death wish, but certainly had very little knowledge of road safety for somone responsible for the lives of several dozen people. 

PS, my father is a heavy vehicle safety expert. So. 

Still, we all made it to Carita at this unreasonably charming Airbnb where we were welcomed with fresh coconuts, sea breezes, and ummmm, hi. the Strait of Sumatra. 


Can we talk for a moment about the food at Rumah Joglo? Because Pak Hadi and his family, who look after Rumah Joglo, cooked us some of the most delicious, meals I've had since coming to Indonesia. Let's just say that if you haven't had urap packed up in banana leaves and brown paper and eaten on the side of a volcano, you just really don't know anything about epicurean pleasure. 

Anyway, Carita. Adorable. A quiet little seaside town with a charming harbour, hiking trails, surfing, and views to Mt. Krakatau. You know. No biggie. (TOTAL BIGGIE.)

 One morning we decided, hey, it's a great day for a walk in the jungle. So we set off with Pak Hadi as our guide for short jaunt through the forest. Shod in wholly inappropriate footwear, with a small bottle of water between four people, and nothing but a wayward box of rasins and a snake fruit or to to sustain us, we were all, yeah, we'll be to the top of this waterfall in no time. 

Right. Ten kilometers, one salandang nap, and several blisters later, we had returned from our epic trek through the jungle. And, BTW, I mean jungle. 

Like, if you have never carried your toddler on your hip while fording waterfalls, spotting monkeys, avoiding TWELVE INCH CENTIPEDES and navigating narrow cliff-side paths, you know nothing of jungle adventure. Or stupidity and ill-preparedness. 

Regardless, it was amazing. My kid was a trooper. And I was sure glad that our superstar nanny / friend came along and helped me carry my daughter for a bit. 

Oh, and by the way, in case you were wondering what tumeric looks like goriwng in the wild, well, here you go.

(WHAT??? Tumeric plants? I just can't even!!)

And then on the way back, a monsoon rainstorm opened above us, unleashing more rain than I ever knew could call from the heavens, and capping off our accidental adventure in the best possible way. Can I also just stop here to say, once again, my kid is a total lionheart, because there was not one tear nor even one whinge, despite the fact that we ended an epic trek drenched to our very core, and it was two hours past lunch time.  

One of the main draws of Carita is it's proximity to Mt. Krakatau, an allegedly dormant volcano that blew it's lid in 1883 in one of the most totally major eruptions in history. So of course we had to go visit. Despite the fact that it lies 40 km out in the middle of the ocean, and it's rainy season, and 10 foot waves, and well, let's just bring the two-year-old along, shall we???

Okay.

So, if you've never found yourself covered in toddler vomit, immobilized on a 25 foot boat in the blinding sun by a child who is so seasick that she barfed down your front four times and then passed out for two solid hours which, if you know anything about my child, is basically a miracle, because to her, sleep = no., well, then my friends, you know nothing of unbelievable sunburns that peal for weeks. And weeks. And, PS, sunscreen works a lot better when you remember to pack it.

Related: the Jakarta pollution is good for one thing: blocking those asshole UV rays. 

Still, I'd do it all again. Because look at this. Just LOOK!

 

So, we landed on Krakatau, recovered our land legs, ate an amazing lunch, and then frolicked on the beach. Let's just stop for a moment to talk about rolling waves, secluded, unoccupied beaches, sand so black and so fine it's like walking on espresso grinds, volcanic rock, and real life pumice stones that float. FLOAT in water. The two hours we spent here were probably the greatest two hours of my child's life, and they totally made up for all that vomit.

We hopped back into our boat for a spot of snorkeling on a real coral reef. Have you ever done that? Because, um, whoa. I'm pretty sure I saw Nemo. Also, why did no one ever tell me that you salt water is so buoyant that you don't even have to move your body to stay afloat??! Could there be anything more relaxing than floating above an undersea universe? The answer is no, PS.

This vacation may or may not have also included more massages than are really necessary to induce total relaxation, more tempeh than is reasonable for one human to consume (hi, that's me), and a sighting of a suspected monitor lizard. 

Anyway, Carita. Go. Stay at Rumah Joglo. Eat urap. Bring sunscreen. And gravol. Visit Krakatau. Go by way of Merak, and NOT via Labuhan as Lonely Planet advises, and escape the jungle of Jakarta streets for the actual jungle. Totally. Go. Now. Do it. You won't be sorry.

 

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