A Few Extra Notes from 2013

Similar to last year’s post, below is a collection of some stories and observations that didn’t find their way into any posts this year. Enjoy!

  • We’ve had some close friends here have babies during the last year. One of my co-teachers’ daughters had twins back in February. We learned that for twins, in Javanese culture, the second one is considered the oldest, because he/she graciously allowed the other to leave the womb first.
  • I was visiting another school when a teacher I hadn’t previously met started talking to me using my name, mentioning Amy and discussing where we live. When I asked how she already knew this, she said that we had been profiled in the regions’ biggest newspaper several months earlier. Knowing that this paper is notorious for inventing quotes, I’m not sure whether or not I want to find a copy.
  • The best move I made all year was asking our local store for the ice cream delivery schedule. Now I am never disappointed by less-than-desirable choices. Friday evenings, you know where to find me.
  • I grew out a beard for the fall, again, despite the weather not changing from its usual 90+ degrees. While there is nothing wrong with my having a beard by cultural or school standards, a few of the older female teachers at my school were unhappy because the beard made me ‘no longer handsome’. They really escalated things when they began flinging insults in hopes it would encourage me to ‘become handsome again’. The best of these (joking?) insults included: “you look like a Turkish person”, and, “you look like a terrorist!”
  • Our favorite village cat, Ginger Tail, doesn’t realize how good he has it. Being the suckers for animals that we are, we spent $5 (quite a bit of money) on fancy cat snacks for him at a nice grocery store in a nearby city. It took him awhile to figure out how to eat them, not being chicken bones, bugs, or his usual fare, but now he’s got it figured out pretty well.
  • A gym opened in the town nearby just before Ramadan. We were pumped. Finally we would be able to work out more consistently. Well, like most things in life here during Ramadan, our schedules were totally thrown askew as our school hours (and the gym hours) were curtailed. We ended up working out more at home and have settled into a consistent yoga routine here. However, that hasn’t stopped us from being a prime target for town gossip. More than two months after our last visit to the gym, we stopped by a photocopy shop (not close and unrelated to the gym) and were asked why we hadn’t worked out in awhile. Yep, small towns are the same everywhere.
  • Last year, in this post, I wrote about birthdays being celebrated differently here. Well the latest birthday trend among high school students is that you capture the student after school, throw eggs at them, and then dump flour on them. I saw this in my class for the first time when, as we were finishing the last class of the day, I saw one student who appeared visibly nervous. As soon as the closing prayer ended he bolted for the door, only to be caught immediately by his friends. He was thrown into the catfish pool and then the egging and flouring commenced.
  • Speaking of birthdays, last year my birthday went pretty unnoticed at school. This year though, thanks to knowing my students better (but probably mostly to do with Facebook) I spent all day being serenaded and salim’ed (students touch their head to my hand as a sign of respect) by the students. It made for a great start to my birthday.
  • As our departure from Indonesia grows nearer, many of the random people we have met over the last 20 months have been popping back up via text message, wanting to hang out, have us visit them, or them visit us. Nearly daily, I get text messages from people who I barely remember meeting, some more than a year ago. If its this bad now, I can’t imagine what it will be like as we get closer to June.
  • Back in our Pre-Service Training Amy volunteered to edit a cookbook for the new group of volunteers. She revised the previous cookbook and added a bunch of recipes to the knew one from other volunteers and from her own experience in the kitchen.
  • Speaking of new volunteers, the ID-7 group arrived in Indonesia back in April. About 20 of them were placed in West Java and the rest in East Java with the rest of us. ID-8 has been getting their invitations since July and they will be arriving here in March (earlier than the last two groups).
  • Saving the best for last. During one of the days when classes were cancelled earlier this semester, several students put on performances. The band that closed it out was our school’s number one death metal band. And there was a mosh pit (relatively speaking). You can check out a short clip here.
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