Since the New Year, we have been incredibly busy as we’ve tried to soak in everything we can before leaving Indonesia. Here are some of the highlights of those 5 months that didn’t make it to the blog:
We rang in the New Year on the island of Flores. Well technically, a near-deserted near the island of Flores. We were there with Scott and Carolyn. Sadly, due to the New Year, we couldn’t get to Komodo Island to see the dragons. That one will have to be on our list of places to visit whenever we come back to Indonesia.
After returning from our vacation, we spent our first Sunday back at site visiting an orphanage with Bu Ndari, her husband and the Jombang Volkswagon Club as they delivered a donation to the orphanage. It was heartbreaking to hear some of the stories behind the kids, but meeting the caretakers and talking to the kids themselves really demonstrated the epitome of the Indonesian phrase samangat, or, spirit/motivation.
At the end of January, our friends Jessica and Paul, who live in Kuala Lumpur came to visit. We spent a weekend as “tourists in our own town” as we explored all that Surabaya has to offer, including trips to Bromo volcano and Surabaya’s famed cigarette factory (with plenty of eating in between).
Late March and early April had us in Surabaya a few times for medical appointments that are required before we go home. Luckily these coincided with the NCAA tournament.
In April, we hosted some of the newest Peace Corps Trainees who will officially become Volunteers in less than two weeks. They saw our community, taught our classes and met our neighbors. If the rest of the new group are anything like Theresa, Roy, Jen and Craig, Peace Corps Indonesia is in good shape for the future.
Earlier this month, we learned that our host sister is engaged! After dating her fiance for a number of years, we were very excited to learn this news. And, just a week later, our host brother proposed to his girlfriend as well! Unfortunately, the first wedding will take place just a few days after we leave. But, in the meantime, we’ve been able to attend a few of the ceremonies for both of them celebrating their engagement.
Last week, I joined my school’s 10th graders on a trip to the Central Java city of Solo. Known as one of the cultural hubs of the country, we spent some time in the city as well as visiting the museum for the UNESCO site where Java Man was discovered and the palace of the previous Sultan of Solo, currently housing the royal decedents of his family.
This past Sunday, we had an opportunity to finally visit the neighboring town of Mojowarno. Mojowarno is famous for its Christian church, which was the first built in East Java in 1879. A beautiful building featuring Dutch architecture. On the day we visited, it was the site of the famous Unduh-unduh, or, rice harvest festival. There were parade floats, performances and an auction to raise money for the church community. My friend Arles and his girlfriend served as our guides for the day.