Well yesterday sure was exciting. Day 4 in Jakarta and we face a 7.0 earthquake and a tsunami warning. Surely a sign of things to come? Let’s hope not.
Since we’ve been in Indonesia, we’ve been meeting with government officials, local educators, talking with other expats, and getting a general idea of what to expect while we’re here. Basically, the culture is very different, bathrooms are a nightmare, and so is traffic. Bugs are a completely different story. (I have to tell you a quick bug story though: I woke up to a big fatty cucaracha on the ceiling, right above my head. Towel snapping commenced shortly after.)
(By the way, those two photos have not been edited. At all. I wish I could clear away that smog.)
Michael McCoy, our local executive director of AMINEF, has been meeting with us and briefing us on expat educator life here. From the stories, we’re all going to die, basically. It really sounds like our time here is going to be filled with misery and illness (vehicular injuries, never-adjusting stomach ailments, dengue, malaria, rabies from monkeys and every dog in Bali, etc.) I really hope that this won’t be the case, but it really did take a few days before we heard the good things about living here. Already, I really enjoy the people. They smile, ALL THE TIME. They acknowledge you as you pass, and from what I’ve heard, they’re naturally curious. But we were warned not to be offended, because they really do ask VERY personal questions within the first 5 seconds of meeting you.
Today alone I was asked if I was married, if I had children, (and why I didn’t when I said no.) I was asked if I was fasting for Ramadan or if I was a Christian, and I was asked if I liked Asian men. I said that I like all people, and therefore he wanted to introduce me to a friend of his. WELL… if it weren’t so taboo, I probably would start responding how I threatened to back at Kyllo’s when the next new guy asked for my number. Then I realized it’s not like that, it’s just cultural. It’s going to take some getting used to.
I heard a pretty good joke today about why Indonesians are so curious.
Q: “Why do they ask such personal questions all the time?”
A: “The weather never changes here. Thus, no small-talk.”
In the opinion of an Oregonian, I find that funny. I always chatted with my customers about the weather. That’s all they wanted to know. When it was warm, it was “surprisingly nice.” When it was gross, it was “because the Valley was hot.” Here it’s just Scheizheiß all the time because we’re on the flipping Equator.
Speaking of German words… there’s a German news station here. I’ve been watching it in the mornings as I’m getting ready, and I definitely understand more on that station than the Indonesian local stations. However, whenever I try and communicate in a language that isn’t English, I immediately start saying words auf Deutsch. I was trying to convey “No electricity” and I said “kein” instead of “tidak.” I don’t even know what gender “electricity” is.
There’s something wrong with me. Dengue messes with your mind, right? Haha.
We were also told that there are certain places in the country that we are not allowed to go to, under any circumstances. The secret service is watching! (Seriously, they told us this.) Central Sulawesi, anywhere near East Timor, or anywhere around Papua. About Papua we were warned, “This is a place where they are killing
each other, and this is also a place where they still eat each other.”
Suddenly, Papua lost some of its appeal.
Tomorrow, we leave the Aston Marina hotel and its glorious internet in the lobby for Bandung. I was told that Bandung is where about 50% of clothing worn in the US is produced. This is going to be the outlet of outlets, and I need some long sleeved shirts. And more pants. PANTS. I do not want pants! “Surabaya’s just like Jakarta, but smaller and hotter.” Not exactly the words I wanted to hear, but whatever, I’ll get used to it. Cassie’s place has a pool, so I’ll live.
Speaking of living, I am alive after yesterday’s 7.0 earthquake. We were on our way to the zoo, stopped on a little rickety bridge when it happened. There were several large trucks driving past us, so I thought it was caused by a truck. Our taxi driver started pointing up, like at the trucks up, and then he started laughing. It kept going even after the trucks stopped passing by, so I was a little concerned, but it didn’t seem like anyone else was worried. I said “earthquake?” and shook my hands like the ground would in the case of an earthquake. He shook his head no. And then I was at ease.
THEN WE WENT TO THE ZOO!!! We paid 4,000 Rupiah to get in (about 40 cents US) and it was awesome. It was strangely empty (probably due to the huge earthquake that we didn’t notice…) but all the animals were out and about. The orangutans were hands down my favorite. They looked like little old men. Oh, and imagine a bat with a body the size of a football. Then add wings. They were way cool!
And then we found the Komodo dragons. When I saw the largest of the dragons, a string of profanities was the best way to explain my reaction. You could hear it thud walk. Thud… thud… thud… thud… Very slow, but clearly powerful. I would not want to run into that guy in a dark alley, an open field, or on a deserted island. No friggin way. I’m still going to the national park on a weekend, though!
And I think I’ve written enough for now. Take care, lovelies!
And to the Kyllo’s crew:
Somebody called my mom to check on me, thanks for that. So in return, I made something that you might get a kick out of. Enjoy!