It has been about three weeks since our initial post on Ramadan, so this is to catch you up on how its been going for us. Plus several new pictures at the bottom.
The month of Ramadan ends this week with Idul Fitri which falls on Sunday–at least that’s what most people are planning, it all depends on the number of degrees that the moon is above the horizon (interesting article on it here). We are in the home stretch of Ramadan and the past three weeks have been alternating between being incredibly boring and incredibly busy.
Starting with the boring: the days are really dragging by as a result of Ramdan. The village essentially becomes a ghost town during the day because everyone is fasting and its extremely hot. August is the hottest month of the year, and it has really been noticeable. The afternoons consist mostly of napping or at least laying around reading and watching tv shows/movies on our computer.
We haven’t been the best at fasting. Somedays we manage to last the whole day, others we sneak a small drink of water or a handful of peanuts. And then there are the days when we lose all self-control and consume a meal’s worth of snacks. Mostly though, we have at least honored the spirit of fasting and are relieved to hear the call to prayer in the evening (around 5:40 or so) that lets us know we can eat.
Onto the busy: we had school during the first three weeks of Ramadan, but the days and class times (and students’ attention spans) were shortened due to fasting. Friday was the last day of classes before the two week break that we are currently in the midst of. Many families travel during Idul Fitri, which celebrates the end of Ramdan, to visit their families in neighboring villages, or far-off islands. Much like Christmas back home, Idul Fitri (and this week leading up to it) is a time for everyone to come together, visit with friends and family where they break their daily fast together in fellowship and exchange gifts.
We have attended several buka puasa’s, or breaking of the fast, with our fellow teachers at school and with some of our friends in the area and we have several more this week. We also held a few informal english classes in a neighboring village for nearly 50 local kids and we have participated in local village games to celebrate the Indonesian independence holiday (which is actually on August 17th). That’s right, not only is Idul Fitri approaching, but Indonesia’s independence day take place just a few days before. It would be like combining Christmas and the 4th of July. I don’t think America could handle it–there is a reason they are six months apart, right?
On Saturday and Sunday night, a few hundred people from our village gathered outside of the local mosque at 8pm for a number of games all run by an emcee to a soundtrack of blaring Indonesian Dangdut music. On Saturday night the games were geared toward kids and included eating krupuk (cow or fish skin…think pork rinds) dangling from a string. It is much harder than it looks, having played it during training. On Sunday night, the games were for the adults and included a game consisting of finding coins in large pans filled with flour without using your hands, and Tug of War.
Tug of War was where all of the action was, though, and the matches got pretty intense. Amy was put on a team with her principal and two other women. They made it all the way to the finals before losing. My team consisted of the emcee, an older guy playing in his sarong, and possibly the biggest man I’ve seen in Indonesia. We ended up winning the men’s tournament and the substitute emcee said something about the USA winning, which was met by applause from the crowd. I think that means our Peace Corps work is done.
Selamat Idul Fitri to all of our readers and enjoy the pictures below: