What we’ve been up to…
Last week things finally felt like we were settling in. We found routines and had our third week of bahasa Indonesia and Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) classes. Of course, that means that this week blows that up and we have an entirely new schedule—more on that in a post later this week.
Aside from the ever-changing schedule, things are becoming more comfortable and more familiar.
I (and, I dearly hope, Amy) have mastered the art of using the squat toilet sans toilet paper. It actually isn’t as hard/terrifying as expected and it, combined with various intestinal issues from the new diets/surroundings, provides some great conversations to bond over between all of the Peace Corps Trainees.
My host family finally trusts me to make my own coffee and to spend some time at the house by myself. My host mother’s food continues to be wonderful. Although after eating fried chicken for five of the last six meals, I’m ready to renounce my Kentucky Colonel title in order to sever all ties with Colonel Sanders.
Living with little children has made things really fun, too. Amy has three little brothers and my host parents have a grandson that visits often and refers to me as ‘Om,’ Indonesian for uncle. They provide a ton of entertainment. For example, Amy’s four year old brother constantly walks around the house humming Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance.
I’ve also spearheaded a group of the male trainees who are growing mustaches for the remainder of our training term. Mustaches are quite the look here in Indonesia, so we classify this under cultural-integration. Look forward to the updates on that front.
This past weekend started with class on Saturday at 8am. We had our first assessment test to see how well we are learning the language. Once completed, we were free until Monday. We kicked off our weekend by going to nearby “water park,” Selekta.
Selekta was a plot of land that clearly had a crisis of identity. Plaster dinosaurs, sure! Horse rides, why not! A zip line over gardens, woo-hoo! One of those rocking pirate ships, arrrgh! A few less-than-stable water slides, OF COURSE!
The ultimate highlights, though, were the heated showers. While I, and one other volunteer, have been fortunate to have a water heater in my mandi (bathroom) for my twice-daily bucket baths, the 44 other volunteers take two very cold bucket baths each day. You can understand why the heated showers were the big attraction.
On Sunday, I woke up before the rooster at 4:45am to head to the nearby city of Malang for a “Fun Bike” bike ride that covered 15km with nearly 1,000 cyclists. I don’t know why I expected that the roads would be closed for this, but it was in the middle of the typically insane traffic throughout the city.
For the first three-quarters of the “Fun Bike,” I was continuously wondering when the fun part would begin, as we were essentially climbing a mountain. Finally, I reached the last quarter of the route which was all downhill, at a pace of about 40mph, with oncoming traffic of trucks, motorcycles and vans. That was fun, in that we survived and it wasn’t yet 8am.
Following the “Fun Bike” we grabbed breakfast—fried chicken and rice, of course—and then played ultimate frisbee until noon. By 1pm, I had been up for 8 hours and was done.
We ended the great weekend with a dinner on Sunday night at Amy’s house where she and her Ibu (mom) hosted the six people from our language class as well as the six Peace Corps Trainees from a neighboring village. Amy will recap that in a post later this week, but a teaser…we made guacamole! Our first taste of non-fried chicken, pseudo-American food since we’ve been here.
I’ll leave you with a picture of the goats that live in Amy’s backyard and an equally cute picture of Amy’s host brothers.