My car vibrates less and the road feels smooth all of a sudden. I see fresh line of asphalt, looking at the same time darker and shinier than the older surface on the other side. The holes I was preparing to avoid are no longer there.
Covid has subsided, and now every morning I drive my daughter to school. It is not a long drive, maybe twenty minutes one-way. However, the way to go is through a stretch of road that was clearly not designed for the capacity it has to sustain every morning and afternoon nowadays. It is narrow, and packed with hundreds of motorcycles.
In general, motorcycles in Indonesia behave and move fluidly. It’s like water. If you give them space, they will fill it. If you fill a space, they will flow around you. It almost feels like a dance. At times, it feels meditative.
Unless it is rainy season, like it is now. On rainy season, potholes grow on our roads, like mold spreading on leftover food. And potholes add an extra dimension, extra verticality, that makes motorcycles movement harder to predict. Sometimes you think they’ll go straight, only to see them jerk left last minute, nay, last second, to avoid a hole that was unseen minutes before.
I don’t know why potholes grow during rainy season. Maybe poor drainage after a rain leaves a lot of debris on the road. Then cars press these debris through the asphalt, chipping and starting the hole. Then each day, little by little, more and more vehicles crowdsource the growth by crushing into them unknowingly.
The holes just keep going bigger. I have lost count, but there were easily fifty potholes on the way to our daughter’s school. Some are wider than our car. Because the road is narrow, I often have no choice but to hit these holes.
So I was surprised to see the new patch of asphalt. They weren’t there twenty four hours before. It’s a busy road, so it must’ve been fixed late at night. The holes had been there for weeks, maybe months. Evidently, it only took a few hours to fix. Evidently, we have the tools and technology and expertise to do so. It can’t be too expensive as well: all these cars and motorcycles are taxed highly. And the result is decent enough. It’s not to the level of Japanese people overnight fixing a road split into two by earthquake, but I have no real complains.
Yet someone, somewhere, made the decision to let the issue linger and let a lot of people suffer, even though it really doesn’t take long to get things fixed.
On the road to our daughter’s school, I often think about these people. I’m trying not to, but maybe one day when holes have stopped growing on our roads.