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Meeting Buda

And yes that’s how he spelled his name (continue reading).

There is a some sort of pride, feeling of accomplishment and even importance when a designated driver holds your name up high, patiently waiting to greet you, help with the luggage and take you to the end destination in a big, shiny limo. It does not matter if the drive is only to a modest accommodation somewhere in the middle of the rice fields in a remote, nameless village, and the ‘limo’ is an old Toyota Corolla.

As I emerged through the Arrivals hall, completely knackered but high on emotion and with a decent half-smile on my face, I walked towards the group of drivers, making a bet with myself on how my name would be misspelled. Maybe a version I had not seen before?
It did not take long to find a white board with only my first name printed in big black capital letters, as if they knew on that side of the world that there is a small chance of two Mingailes walking out of the airport at the same time. A fun fact I later discovered: Balinese have no surnames at all, only a birth order name and a personal name.

Anyway, the man holding the board had it covering his face as if it were a security measure while whispering top secrets to a guy to his left. My future driver paid zero attention to the anxious crowd of newly-arrived tourists walking past and searching for the promised chauffeurs, and I began to think: was I late? Had he given up? Was he not taking the job seriously? What’s the customer service like in this part of the world?

Stepping towards him, my slightly hoarse voice attempted to say hello, and I was just as surprised by the sound that came out as he was. After a split second of a ‘what the…’ reaction, a bright smile appeared on his face and Buda greeted me back.
That was his short name, he explained, and I got too busy pulling his leg about whether he is under pressure to live up to such name to retain his full name in my memory.

‘Driver Buda’ (that’s how it was spelled on his business card) transmitted great energy — genuine and cheerful — spoke relatively good English, and was eager to introduce some of the basic fun facts to the first-time Bali visitor.

Everything felt inexplicably light, warm, calm, safe and somewhat familiar. However, the tiredness was catching up with me despite a pleasant conversation I could no longer fight it back. Ruminating about the fact that Balinese and Indonesian are different languages, I drifted to the realm of sleep. The drive was meant to take an hour (for a distance of 36km) and I quickly learned that no ride takes an hour (or less) in a car in Bali, no matter the distance.