In the middle of my mud tour (see yesterday's post), the driver stopped at a town to pass on some kind of message to his nephew. While I was waiting for him, I wandered around the corner into an amazing scene.
It was a pigeon race, right on the edge of the disaster zone. Guys (it seems to be a male sport) were lined up with their birds, and they'd release them on cue. The pigeons had to fly five times back and forth between their handlers and the other end of the field. The fastest bird in this particular race would win a million rupiah, or more than a hundred dollars U.S. They were even videotaping the whole thing in case of close finishes.
The little black thing near the right edge, above, is a pigeon in flight.
"This pigeon won a car," said one guy. I protested that birds can't drive, and the owner told me he was happy to handle that part himself.
I knew pigeon racing was popular here, but I'd never actually seen it. The whoops of the handlers, the speed of the birds and the overall excitement were kind of intoxicating, especially in the middle of touring a bunch of ghost towns. "Java is an amazing place," I said to the driver when he came back, but I don't think he knew why.