We travelled the hundred kilometres from Probolinggo to Surabaya to check on snail mail. I was hoping from news from my other daughters’ travels in Canada. Stepping out of the post office with our letters, a local student befriended us and convinced us to visit the city’s zoo. I’ve never found zoos appealing, seeing animals confined, but my daughter was keen.
At the orangutan enclosure—no bigger than my living room, the animals seemed sad to me. At the chimpanzee cage, a couple of teenagers threw a lit cigarette at the animal and when the chimp picked it up, they though it was terribly funny.
We moved on to the komodo dragons. These famous three-metre-long lizards inhabited an island several islands east of Java from which they got their name. The ones on display seemed passive, but I doubt that would have been the case if I’d entered their territory. Like the story of a girl who put her hand out to touch a hippo and was eaten, according to our host, I would have been breakfast.
After the visit, my daughter had a second Indonesian pen friend before we climbed on to the bus to head back to Probolinggo.