Let’s start at the beginning of the week, shall we?
We finally purchased phones last Saturday after what seemed like a small eternity of being completely cut off from the world. I now have an Indonesian SIM card fit to my phone with an Indonesian phone number I can’t remember. I do have data on my phone but it’s pricey so I’m doubting I’ll be able to keep it for long. I’m enjoying it while I have it, but sparingly. Every minute I spend on the internet costs me a ton of money, so don’t expect anything crazy from this gal.
Sunday started off in the delightfully lazy manner that all Sundays should begin. I woke up and had some rice for breakfast (like ya do in Indo…). We had made a tentative plan to head into Batos to buy some batik shirts but my Ibu was nowhere to be found so I went about my business, enjoying a quiet moment. Eventually I found my Ibu and she convinced me to wash my clothes. We had previously discussed her showing me how to accomplish this seemingly impossible feat on this very Sunday. We set up the awesome clothes tub in the mandi (toilet/bathing room) and Ika (my Ibu’s daughter) showed me how to jerry-rig a length of hose to siphon water from the mandi itself to the tub on the floor. Think about the way you’ve seen people steal gas from cars in movies. That’s right, a mouthful of mandi water for the Gaux Gaux. Don’t worry, it gets better.
So, I put the clothes in the little tub, toss in a handful of powdered detergent and am instructed to let that all soak for 5 minutes. Great. Can do. So far so good. I come back in 5 minutes’ time and begin to scrub. Nothing out of the ordinary. Once I’m done with the scrubbing (my back is none too happy at this point) I walk out to try and find Ibu. To no avail. I wander around for a bit, vaguely akin to a lost puppy, until I find a neighbor who is more than happy to show me how to rinse my clothes. Let me take this moment to say, I’m not an idiot. I know how to hand wash clothes. I just wanted to make sure I was covering all my bases. And how was I supposed to know the tricky siphoning maneuver had I not asked? So, I am instructed to rinse the clothes, ring them out, put them aside, and rinse them again with clean water after I’m done. I, at this point, have gathered an audience of two. My small friends Dwi and Litia. I adore these small humans, so they were more than happy to stand by, offering moral support and instructions as to proper rinsing etiquette. Now comes the fun part.
I find Ika to tell her I’m done with the rinsing bit and I would like to know where to hang them up. She then proceeds to take me to her house (behind mine, in the back of the alley) and allows me to use her dryer. Which is next to her washing machine. I’m not entirely sure why I was not previously offered either of these amenities but I tried not to think too much of it. Otherwise my complaining back would make me want to go red in the face. Now, keep in mind, this dryer is not like the ones we have back home. There is no warm air or tumble dry. This is a pool dryer. The kind you stuff your bathing suit in before you leave to spin like a crazy person and get most of the water off. After this happens for 5 minutes or so I am handed all of my clothing to hang them on the roof. Which, wow. I mean, wow. I spent the first little bit not hanging anything, but looking in unabashed amazement at the view. I took a panorama but you can’t really have any idea how gorgeous it is. So, I’m hanging up my clothes when we get to the underwear. Let me preface this by saying, I have nothing to be ashamed of here. I’m also not “looking for a good time” here in Indonesia. Anyone who’s seen my socks knows I have an affinity for the brightly colored. That’s about all the detail I’ll go into here but let me tell you, my Indonesian lady friends could not get enough. Ika invited other women over to look. That’s right, there was a full on parade walking around the roof just to look at my underwear. I was bright red for an hour, at least.
So that happened.
I thought anything would be relatively uneventful after that. Oh no. No, siree. Courtney came over (a fellow volunteer) per my request later that evening. You see, I had been playing cards with children 12 and under for a little over 4 hours. FOUR hours. Let me clarify. That would be 4 whole hours. 240 minutes. 14,400 seconds. I love kids. I LOVE kids. But after 4 hours of playing cards in a language you don’t speak a girl needs some adult English time. So, of course, I called Courtney.
We had been invited to a party to celebrate Celar Kartin which, I gleaned, was a day to commemorate woman being able to go to school in Indonesia. Can I get an amen for that one? Hell to the yes I will go to that. So Court came over, as we thought my family would be headed to this parade. They were talking about a pesta (party) so we just assumed they were headed where we wanted to go and hopped on board. Turns out we went to another wedding. Not the Celar Kartin parade. Oops. No big. We finished eating and left in about 30 minutes flat. It took us at least another 20 to extract ourselves from the over abundant love that is my little host family and head to Jason’s (another volunteer) house to get ready.
Now, when I was told to get ready I was in no way prepared for the outcome. We were surrounded by a gaggle of women in white powder and traditional Indonesian dance garb. Courtney walked in the door saying “Saya mau coket!” Which translates to “I want to dance!” Why, you ask? Well, because Courtney always wants to dance. And because we know very few phrases in Indonesian as of yet. That’s one she learned almost immediately. It’s a common thing to hear her say nowadays.
Coket we did. They found shirts and skirts to fit us all. We pulled our hair back and put on lipstick. We didn’t need powder since we were all so white already. We hopped in an angkot and accidentally left the boys behind. As we were pulling away in a small car packed with strangers, none of whom spoke English, headed toward we weren’t sure where, we started to wonder if maybe we had gotten ourselves into a little bit of a bind. We weren’t sure where we were going, if we had to pay, how long we would be there, what the dance steps were, or how we were getting home. We attempted to inquire in stilted Indonesian but got little in the way of answers. Eventually we discerned that, at the very least, if we stuck with these ladies we would make it home alright.
We get to Batos (the town square near us) and there is music BLARING. I mean, someone gets paid a lot of money to supply Indonesia with some speakers bigger than my life. We hop in line toward the back and start to sort out this traditional dance we know nothing about. It’s not exceedingly challenging so we stumble through to shouts of “Bule!” and random flashes of the camera from passers by. Cut to a kindly old man finding us in the back and insisting we move to the front of the parade of over 100 woman to lead the dance. We were moved forward and put directly behind the teachers. Well, why not? What else would you do but dance on! And dance we did. We danced all over Batos to shouts and astonished stares until we were returned safely home.
After that start the week could only be blasé. It’s been language and TEFL training all day every day. The language is fine, we’re all doing quite well. Our teacher is outstanding and we have a lot of fun driving him off topic with tangents and inappropriate questions. The TEFL is dense and sometimes hard to sit through after walking for 25 minutes in the blaring Indonesian sun to get to Gunungsari for the class. It’s nice to see a larger group of people, but the cons tend to outweigh the pros of that particular endeavor.
Every moment of every day seems planned and jam packed into place. I don’t have time to sleep or breathe. I understand we have a lot to cover, but there’s barely time to let any of it process before the next thing is being shoved forcefully into my brain.
And then came Friday. Still jam packed and forceful but I set foot in a classroom for the first time since arriving as a teacher. Holy goodness, I can’t begin to tell you how happy it made me. I desperately needed to be reminded why I’m here, and sure enough, there they were. About 20 very good reasons all in one place. We teach these classes next week (I’ll be teaching three days and my comrades will be teaching for the other three). I’m so excited. I couldn’t ask for a better reminder.