Suka dan Duka (The Ups and Downs of Life)

By Amy

We generally keep our blog pretty positive. The reasons for that are because a) we’ve read plenty of Peace Corps blogs that seem to be more of an outlet for venting, and that’s not what we wanted this to be; and b) we are generally really positive people and we believe an experience is what you make of it and how you choose to think about it.

That being said, when the school year ends, and we wait for a new one to start, we are left with too many days at home, too much time around a host family with whom we have little relationship, and no more tasks to complete. It is a kind of boredom and frustration that we will never get to experience again in our lives and it can create a little cloud over our generally sunny outlook on life here. With that I’ll give you a few ups and downs of our life as of late.

  • Around the last week of full classes, as I was riding my bike to school I got a flat tire. I thought the tire had been fixed the week before, but apparently it had not. I had no pulsa (pre-paid credit) on my cell phone to call my counterpart to tell her I’d be late. I also had to leave school temporarily that morning to go meet four Peace Corps trainees that would be coming to visit our house for an official Pre-Service Training site visit. What a morning! But this being Indonesia, I really didn’t need to worry. Within a minute or so, one of the teachers from my school came by. He offered to take me to school on his motorcycle, but I refused as Peace Corps volunteers are not allowed to ride motorcycles (unless volcano lava is directly flowing toward you faster than you can run, or something similarly life threatening). Not a problem. We waited for another teacher to come by on a motorcycle and he sent that teacher to get a random student to come find us on his bicycle so I could ride the students’ bicycle to school while the student walked my bike to the tire shop. Later, my counterpart told me to just take any bicycle from the student parking lot to go meet the trainees. That’s what I did. By the time I left school at the end of the day with the four new trainees, my bike was back at school and ready to ride.
  • Last week, Will and I rode our bikes into town one evening to run some errands. On the way home we stopped to visit one of our friends, Bu Ndari, who is a teacher from Will’s school. She invited us to go to the nearby city with her family a few days later and we gladly accepted. Six Indonesian adults, a set of baby twins and Will and me loaded into two Volkswagon vehicles and set out for a trip to Pizza Hut and the local Hypermart for shopping. We had a really fun time and enjoyed seeing the reactions of people as they first saw twins (“Dua!” Two) and then us (“Bule!” White people).
  • One of the hardest things for both of us in Indonesia has been balancing our love of animals and the way they are treated here. This isn’t to say that there aren’t animal lovers in Indonesia–there are, but it’s usually different on the village level. Cats often come into our house since the doors are always open and our kitchen garbage sits on the floor in a shallow container. One orange and white cat (who we named Gingertail because of his long orange tail) was a young (not neutered of course) male and meowed at the top of his lungs every time he came into our house. He was really, really annoying. But….over time he grew on us and started rubbing on our feet and curling up on the chair next to us. We even started dangling a yoga mat strap so he could play with it. You can imagine our heartbreak the other day when our host brother lured him with a treat, picked him and another local cat up by the scruff of their necks and stuffed them into a sack. We asked what was going on and if he wanted to kill them and our family said he was just taking them to another area to let them be someone else’s problem (a common practice here as it is bad luck to kill a cat in Javanese culture). We spent the rest of the day depressed and sad and feeling silly. But it was really sad. The next day our host mom, somewhat surprised at our expression of concern asked Will, “So you LIKED the cat?” Will replied “Yes, we like all animals.” Then she said “Later you can have another one.” That night when a different cat wandered into the kitchen our host mom and sister came running to tell Will that there was a cat in the kitchen. Umm…thanks.
  • Coming off this depressing day at home, and in order to get out of the house, I made plans the next day to meet my best Indonesian gal pal at the salon to get a Cream Bath (a deep conditioning treatment). We probably spent about two hours at the salon and then we had lunch together and went shopping at the local minimart. It felt normal. We reflected that we had been friends and teaching together for a year now and wished each other a happy anniversary before I rode home on my bike feeling much lighter and grateful for friends that make it possible for us have a life here instead of just an existence.

Well, our future posts will be much more positive all around because my mom and dad are coming to visit! By the time you are reading this we will be relaxing in Ubud, Bali in a villa with my parents. We’ve only seen each other on Skype for the last 14 months so it will be amazing to see them in real life again! And we will be very ready for a vacation.

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2 thoughts on “Suka dan Duka (The Ups and Downs of Life)

  1. Hellow Amy and Will ….Amy your last post touched my heart even though I could feel
    your loneliness I could also feel the deciation to your position, your love of the people
    and the deep belief in the reason you are there. I am so proud of you both.
    I know having your parents come will be wonderful the time of course will go to fast but
    the memories will last till you come home… Have a glorious time with your parents….

    God bless you both
    Bonnie and Captain Duane

  2. Pingback: The Return of Ginger Tail | Two Cups of Java

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