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Wobbling around in an ancient boat just a bit larger than a nutshell was not my idea of the safest mode of travel, but I hunkered down as low as I could get and wished I had one of those bright orange life jackets they pass out on cruise ships. I stared into the muddy water sloshing by and wondered why I had agreed when Julia asked me if I wanted to join her on a trip to Pulau Seribu. She said it would be Paradise.
Pulau Seribu means Thousand Islands in Indonesian. Because someone was fond of exaggeration, it's the official name of an archipelago that comprises some 105 islands north of Jakarta. I cast a look at Julia. With her knees drawn up against her chest, she grinned towards the receding pier, without a worry in the world. How typical. All legs and laughter, Julia harbors a no-risk-no-fun attitude. No wonder she was completely relaxed, while I, supporting the don't-forget-the-safety-net school of thought, wished myself a hundred miles away. We had met a few weeks earlier, shortly after I had arrived in Jakarta as a trainee at the German-Indonesian Chamber of Commerce.
I'll never forget the moment she bounced up to me like a grasshopper, took my hand and said, "Your sister is called Sabine. You have a mother who loves red."