Tag Archives: Beaches

A Busy Few Weeks at Peduli Anak

31 Oct

So many things have been happening at Peduli Anak since I got back! My first week back was so busy – every day I did something with the kids! In addition to teaching and the extracurricular stuff I planned for, the weekend had two important events that deserve their own post. I’m also going to make a very concerted effort to post once a week, so we’ll see how it goes!

Last Saturday, a group of dentists took over the auditorium and provided free dental checkups to all the kids at YPA, as well as anyone from the local village and anyone involved in the social services program that is connected to YPA (about 90 families are involved). Many teeth were pulled and tears were shed, but everyone was done in a few hours! I comforted many kids, younger and older, most of whom were just crying because they were scared or uncomfortable. Most of the problems the kids encountered were that they had gingivitis from not brushing enough, so their gums would bleed a little which scared them. The good news is gingivitis is totally preventable at their age! The dentists were very kind, amazingly kept everything sanitary, and were extremely thorough – they did everything from cleaning to teeth pulling 🙂 The group was from the Netherlands – one of the dentists lives in Senggigi (a touristy city north of Mataram, the capital) and organizes the whole group to come to YPA and other villages/areas once a year. This is their tenth year coming to YPA! The founder of YPA, Chaim (also from the Netherlands) also got a free check-up 🙂

On Sunday, part of my donated funds paid for 40 kids and myself, Marjolein and Pak Muklis (one of the YPA counselors) to go to the beach for the day (the total cost was all of $24…not bad!) Little did I know how hard it would be to keep everyone both happy and safe! Luckily around 20 of the kids could swim by themselves and some others were not so into going into the water, but most of the time I had five kids begging me to swim with them and clinging to me. I joked with them that “pulau Christina ramai” which means “Christina Island is crowded”. I felt like an island with so many kids attached to me! I would usually have two on the back, one under each arm, and one in the front with their arms around my neck. Nana, a 4th grader, got mad at me because I wasn’t paying enough attention to her, but then later she got tired of being mad and came back and cuddled with me. Hanging out with all of them made me realize how much I myself want kids someday! Seeing how happy they are almost every day, it’s hard to imagine what they felt like before they came to live at YPA.

This week progressed as normal. I taught my kids a little about Halloween – we talked about ghosts, witches, zombies and vampires, I learned about some Indonesian ghosts, and after they asked the question “Trick or treat! May I have some candy?” I gave them a piece of candy! On Monday, my fellowship application for the Shansi is due, which will be awesome to have out of the way 🙂

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This weekend has also been fun – Friday night, Martina, Marjolein and I went to a great coffee shop and ate dinner and had a work party/talking about love and life. Saturday in the morning, Marjolein and I decided to go to Gili Air, which is a small island in a trio of islands (the others being Gili Meno and Gili Trawangan, which is the biggest/most famous). We dived together once and say some amazing fish, and then today, Sunday, I dived and saw 4 sharks, 2 sting rays, and 2 turtles! I forgot how much I loved diving, and how much I want to buy an underwater case for my camera and a dive computer! We came back from Gili Air this afternoon (it takes around 3 hours round trip to get there if you time it right). Tomorrow night we’re hoping to get together with Jen and/or Jess, the two ETAs teaching in Mataram, to watch Hocus Pocus in honor of Halloween! Now I’m just preparing for the week (which will include editing the current English curriculum, making a guide for future English teaching volunteers, researching potential grants for YPA, and making a video of the kids sharing their dreams) and putting the finishing touches on the Shansi application – wish me luck!


San Francisco, San Diego and Mexico!

11 Sep

The past two weeks have been magical. I LOVE California and the Rosarito Beach area of Baja California and will need to live close to these places at some point in my life. Hanging out with Jasmine Mote, Cynthia Guggenheim, Emmy Brockman, Lindsay Sutton, and Jolie Colby have been amazing and therapeutic, and digging in deep with Jolie’s clan and family made me feel like I can find home anywhere I go.

I had a teeny bit of a rough start to my journey west – Hurricane Irene caused Manchester, NH to pre-emptively cancel ALL their flights. After much stressing and me staying on the phone with a woman named Monica for 2 hours, I got one of the last flights out of Boston (to Philly, then Cleveland, then San Fran…). If not for Monica, I may have been holed up on Boston until the following Tuesday! In San Francisco, I was surprised by both the cold wind and temperature, and the beauty of the area! It doesn’t surprise me that so many people I love live there and few intend on coming back. Any time I tell people I’m going to California (the Bay Area in particular), they say “Don’t go! You’ll never come back!” I can definitely see why. There is so much to do around the Bay Area and the hills give the City so much character. The University of Berkeley (or “Cal” as the locals call it) is so beautiful and in such a great area. One of the quirky things about the Bay Area is the amount of transient people/homeless in the area and how aggressive (in a friendly way) they are! In Harvard Square, I am used to seeing a few homeless and occasionally give money to a few, but in the Bay Area they completely overwhelm you and you feel weird giving money to one because it would almost be unfair to favor one over the hundreds around you! Some of the highlights of my time in the Bay Area:
– riding an old-school trolley up and over and down the hills of San Francisco
– watching the seals roll around on the docks near the bay
– hiking up Panoramic Hill and seeing most of the Bay Area (and using leggings for the first time haha)
– eating brunch and having a potluck with Jasmine, Cyn and Emmy (and meeting Alex, Emmy’s boyfriend) AND seeing their fab apartment
– seeing a series of short films celebrating contemporary Bay Area animation
– eating breakfast at a place called Sconehenge…enough said.
– getting a $2.00 custom made fresh ice-cream cookie sandwich
– eating pizza on a street median with some ladies in Jasmine’s clinical science cohort
– making a spicy Indonesian chicken dish with Jasmine
– catching up with my cousin Lindsay and getting some fantastic soup and salad

I may have forgotten some things, but it was definitely a blast – some pictures:

Jasmine on the trolley.

Apparently Mr. Bogart himself was there...

Alcatraz Island

So much seal love!

Cyn, Me, Jas and Emmy at our potluck.

My life's worth for the next three months!

San Diego, from what Jolie told me about it, was a lot like I had pictured it. Small-ish with surfers everywhere and the chillest people you’ll ever meet, and GREAT Mexican food. It was really nice to spend some time with Seth, her fiancee, meet her amazing and diverse housemates, acro-yoga buddies, and of course her sister and mommy. I had met her mother, Cathy in Gorontalo and she was so warm and hilarious as ever 🙂 It was so nice to see all the different facets of Jolie reflected in all the people in her life. We went to Mexico for Jolie’s engagement party, and crossing the border was an experience in and of itself – she lives about 30 minutes from the border. Mexico was also lovely – we stayed in Las Gaviotas, a gated community village near Rosarito Beach, with its own beach, pool and hot-tub. Highlights included:

– meeting Jamie, Jolie’s childhood best friend, and being “single” buddies with her
– laying out on the beach in a tiny bikini and feeling super self-conscious
– swimming at Blacks, a beach and prime surfing spot and reading tarot cards
– driving across the border to Mexico
– playing volleyball with Tori (Jolie’s sister), Michael (Seth’s friend), Seth and Jolie
– eating amazing tacos and tres leches cake for Jolie’s engagement party
– playing “Extreme Charades” and “About Time” with new friends and family
– eating amazing Mexican brunch (with free margaritas!)
– surfing for the first time
– eating burritos on the way to the airport


Gone surfing.

I want to live here for this.

Lovely beach.

They hook you up - instantly!

You can even bike to Mexico!

Crossing the border.

Trying out tacos for Holie's engagement dinner and drinking Tecate with the girls!

The view from the window of the house in Las Gaviotas.

Volleyball kids.


The engagees getting the royal treatment from Elijah and Willow 🙂

Kameron, Mama Cathy, Roxanne and Uncle John

Jamie, Tori and Holly

Jolie and Seth do acro-yoga.

Getting to Indonesia was surprising painless. I sat next to a Chinese nun, an amazing Indonesian woman from Kalimantan named Cindy, and met a girl named Putri who lives in the US but her parents are from Jakarta who said my Indonesian and my accent was really good (I think I have a ways to go). I did wake up in the middle of my Hong Kong flight and wonder what I was doing flying all the way to Indonesia, but I got over that quickly by watching some Diamonds are Forever and Goodfellows. When I landed in Jakarta, I was met with the chaos of the airport that I had expected – I felt I had the insider knowledge that only come from having lived in Indonesia before. The crowds didn’t stress me out and I had a nice talk with my taxi driver. Mia and Ab have been so accommodating and sweet to me – I’m still recovering from jet-lag and they don’t laugh too hard at me sleeping all the time. I can’t go to Gorontalo until Wednesday because ticket prices are so expensive after Idul Fitri, the celebration of the end of Ramadhan, but I’m having fun seeing friends and former ETAs that live in Jakarta.

I’ll report next from Gorontalo to tell you what I find there – yay for second homes!

A Long-Overdue Update: Vacation and Limboto Life

20 Dec

There are many reasons why I’ve neglected my blog for over a month.  I’ve been falling in love more with the people here and, with a few exceptions, prefer to spend my time with them when I have free time.  I’ve also been on some awesome vacations, where, again, I preferred people to computers.  Then, I had some pieces in a handbook to edit, which occupied my time for a while.  Now, one day before my next big adventure, I’ve decided to update you on what has happened since mid-November!

Side-note: I received 4 priority packages today from the US that were sent before November 5th, but it was amazing to actually get “Christmas presents” of a sort the day before I left for vacation! One of the packages was completely destroyed by Fluff that was lovingly sent to me (sorry Bridget, Paul and Jeremy!) but I was able to save the peanut butter and chai tea inside.  THANK YOU to Mom, Dad, Casey, Bridget, Paul and Jeremy for thinking of me!


On November 17th and 18th, I got to celebrate a really important Islamic holiday, both with Jolie’s school (the 17th) and my school (the 18th).  Idul Adha commemorates the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son, Ishmael, before Allah/God presented him with a ram to sacrifice instead. At Jolie’s school, we woke up early and had soto ayam (a sort of chicken soup with rice and lime) and cookies.  Then the sacrificing of the bulls began (there were eleven in total) – I was beginning to wonder what all the cows with numbers on them were doing hanging around Jolie’s school!

The elaborate ritual goes something like this.  Someone begins by roping the bull’s feet so it can’t run, and gradually they lay the bull down.  They then tie its front legs and back legs together so it can’t kick.  Then, an old Ibu along with an old man comes over to say a prayer over the bull and calm it down.  The old man slits its throat quietly and majestically, covering the bull’s neck with a huge leaf to prevent blood spattering the many people gathered around. You know how in the movies when someone gets their arm/leg/head cut off and then blood sprays everywhere, sometimes comically? Thy had to get that inspiration from somewhere, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was animal sacrificing.  After the bulls throat is cut, it does one of a few things.  I saw some try to walk again, which only made it worse for them because their head had no support.  I saw some kick a lot and snort and struggle. I saw some take death lying down.  I was asked to stop taking pictures and comfort one of the bulls as it passed onto heaven instead – this involved me talking to it and stroking it as it died.  After the bull  is completely dead (which can take up to 20 minutes) the carcass is dragged by students (male, of course) who are eager to dismember it and divide up its parts (which can be really interested to watch – the students get so excited!). If this process sounds horrible and you’re wondering why I would want to watch something like this, I don’t exactly blame you – just remember that all that beef Americans was once a cow/bull that was killed by someone.  Granted, it’s done in a completely impersonal environment, probably by machines, but does that make it any better/worse? Personally, I’d rather have someone say some soothing words and be with me to watch me die then get electrocuted.  Jolie’s mom Cathy was also there and it was so fun to be a part of her first Indonesian experience.  If I had pictures, I’m not sure I’d post some of them, but I hope you can imagine whatever part of this experience you’d like to!

On the 18th, I went to an Idul Adha party at Ibu Nurmiaty’s house (one of the vice-principals and a teacher at MAN Limboto).  I missed the potong sapih part (the killing of the bulls) but was able to enjoy delicious sate, more soto ayam, and take some pictures!


Ibu Warni, me and Ibu Aisa all dolled up.

So many curious ibus.

Me and Ibu Sumarni making sate!

Students and adorable children.

Two of my favorite MAN Limboto boys.


Many people have told me this already, but I didn’t believe it until I saw it – Gorontalo has some truly amazing diving! There is a sponge in Gorontalo that was discovered and named by Rantje, an American originally from the American and Canadian Northwest who runs Miguel’s Dive Shop in the city.  It’s called the Salvador Dali sponge because it looks like something weird and angular and out of place (it could belong in one of his paintings, for sure).  You can only find it here! Rantje has also discovered several new species in the area and often sends samples of wildlife to Australia for tracking and cataloging.

I’m getting a little ahead of myself here though – I went on 5 dives in 2 days with 5 Indonesian guys from Jakarta and Kalimantan.  It was hilarious hanging out with them and I learned a lot.  I went a little deeper than I’m supposed to (beyond 18-20 meters is what I’m certified to dive as an Open Water diver), and it was really awesome.  We dived some walls, went through a fish traffic jam, dived a wreck (!!!), saw many cuttlefish, one sting-ray and one lobster! I was hoping for a whale shark because on of the ETAs who went here before saw one (sometimes they come feed on the plankton nearby) but I’m determined to see one before I leave Gorontalo! I paid $200 for 5 dives, including equipment, and it was completely worth the price (which is pretty standard and even a little better than most places in Indonesia, and certainly cheaper than US prices).


Resting after my first dive!

Me and the dive team!

The view from the boat!


…was awesome! Even though I only had Thursday-Sunday for vacation, I definitely made the most of it. First, I met a bunch of other ETAs in Surabaya to go to a dinner at the Consulate, where we met other buleh doing really inspiring and interesting work – some of the English Language Fellows (ELFs) from orientation were there as well and it was nice to reconnect with them.  We were all so grateful to have real Thanksgiving food – turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, two kinds of stuffing, green bean casserole, brussel sprouts and herbs, SALAD (it’s sad that this was one of my favorite things on the table), WINE, fresh fruit juice, and three kinds of pie.  It was so nice to gather with Americans and to dress up a little nicer than normal.  After the dinner, we headed to the Majapahit Hotel, which was the site of a lot of Indonesian resistance to Dutch rule in the early 1900’s. It’s a beautiful hotel and we got to have a little tour, as well as enjoy some delicious iced tea and meet some foreign service officers (FSOs) who worked at the consulate in Surabaya.

The next day, a lot of us headed to Lombok, where we met with other ETAs to catch a boat to Gili Trawangan, a smaller island with amazing beaches, delicious food, great snorkeling, and nightlife! The next 24 hours of my life were spent bar hopping, dancing, eating a bagel and lox, swimming with a turtle, and being able to be on a beach in an actual bathing suit (as opposed to a t-shirt and long shorts, which is even a little racy for Gorontalo).  I had to head back to Lombok early because I had an early flight to catch the next day back to Gorontalo, and I had an adventure haggling for affordable transportation while trying to make sure no one made off with my bags, in the rain, by myself.  I stayed at Ben’s house and had some killer gado-gado (rice, vegetable and tofu with peanut sauce) and fresh pineapple for $2 at a hotel across the street from his house. The next day my flight from Mataram on Lombok to Surabaya was delayed for 4 hours, and because there are only 3 or 4 flights in and out of the Gorontalo airport per day, I ended up staying in Surabaya for a night and crashing with Lupi, a friend of Jack (an ETA) who is a member of Couch Surfing. I got to see several ETAs that day too and got my mall/consumerism fix in as well (and I saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows for $2.50!). I’ve found that if I have more than 3 flights in one day and one of them is delayed, I end up with an extra day of vacation!


We all imitated our favorite Indonesian while posing for a picture in this photo. From left: Rachel, Luca, Jack, Rick, Leif, Grace.

Luca, me and Rick toasting to wonderful food.

Croquet at the consulate (Leif and Brett)

Hanging out on Gili T - another Indonesian impersonation.

The view from the boat back to tha mainland.


I had a random vacation between December 3rd and 7th (the 7th was Islamic New Year, so we had no school) and decided to go to Surabaya to visit Adam (an ETA working in Gresik) and Emily, an FSO working at the consulate.  On the way there, I met a really nice Indonesian man who ended up buying me a scarf and playing cards, which I didn’t know what to make of, and a woman who lived in Gorontalo and had a hair salon business there.  Adam and I were supposed to leave the night of the 2nd for Banyuwangi (where our friends Grace and Leif work as ETAs) but they didn’t have tickets until the morning, so we crashed with Emily (and saw another movie – they are so cheap).

The next day we took a 7-hour train to Southeast Java, which was really delightful – it was air-conditioned and had a ton of leg room.  We met a really interesting guy named Jimmy, an American who runs a small home-stay in Thailand and teaches English there on the side.  He was tripping around Indonesia, and I’m so glad we ran into him because he had some amazing stories.  He has worked in so many places, but his most riveting adventure he told us about was the time he spent in Yemen.  I think he said it was the early 1990’s (around the time of the Gulf War) and he was teaching English there and ended up getting put under house arrest and was in prison for a while because they thought he was an American spy.  He also was jailed in the US for a while for being a conscientious objector for non-religious reasons.  He made our trip really entertaining and now if I ever go to Thailand (which is looking increasingly likely), I will have a place to stay near Bangkok.

We arrived in Banyuwangi (we got off at the wrong stop because we were unprepared and they only stop for 45 seconds so we literally jumped off the train) and got some nasi pecel (like gado gado, but set up differently and with different veggies) and got to meet some of Grace’s neighbors and see where she lived, as well as meet Grace’s counterpart, Shinda, who lives with her. The next day, we went to a wedding with gorgeous flowers and delicious food, a rujak party (we cut up young mango, papaya, and other fruit I forget the names of while an ibu made some delicious sweet and spicy peanut sauce – you combine them and MMM), toured a salak farm (known to Americans more as snake-fruit for its brown scaly exterior) and then ate some delicious ikan bakar (grilled fish) with a tomato-like sauce and some cumi rica (squid with pepper sauce) at a little place near the beach.  Definitely one of the best days I’ve had in Indonesia so far, despite my HORRENDOUS allergies (I was sneezing so much I couldn’t talk). I also learned a tiny bit of Javanese, which amuses my Gorontalo friends to no end. The next day Grace, Adam and I ventured back to Surabaya, where we got some great pasta with Emily and pigged out on ice-cream and cookie fondue at Hagen Daas – I left the next day for Gorontalo, and Grace too a train to Yogyakarta (in Central Java).

I didn’t have time to post pictures from Banyuwangi before I left, but I will when I get back!


…is going great.  I’m really beginning to feel at home here, despite being away so much.  I’ve gotten to know the security and staff who work for the school more, been more accepted in the social circle of men who work at my school (I keep a lot of their secrets now, which helps) and generally feel like I actually live here now.  Just this Sunday I went on an outing with several teachers, staff and the 10th grade of my school.  First we went to the site where Sukarno, Indonesia’s first president, first landed in Indonesia.  Then we hiked up a million stairs to a really nice view of the valley and I got to see the hilly part of my area, which made me overjoyed for some reason (mainly because I see all the hills and I never get to go up them!) Then we went to the beach and I had an amazing time laughing with the staff, walking and dancing with the students, and snorkeling. Each time I hang out with my students after school, I love them more and more – most of them are incredibly eager to learn and we really enjoy swapping languages.

Over the next 5 weeks, I will not be spending more than a few days in Gorontalo.  Tomorrow, I’m heading to Bali for a night, then the next day going to Labuanbajo, Flores, in hopes of chartering a boat with my friends Rachel, Luca and Nicole to the Komodo and Rinca islands.  Hopefully we will do some amazing hiking and snorkeling there, as well as seeing some Komodo dragons! (And maybe a Flores hobbit – they supposedly inhabited the island thousands of years ago and could have been the first example of human dwarfism, but maybe some of them are still around!) On the 28th of December, I head to Ubud for a night with Luca and Nicole, and then we head to our amazing villa that I scored north of Seminyak until the 2nd of January! After that I have until the 9th to get home, and don’t know where I’m going yet for that leg of the journey.  I teach for 4 days, then head to Surabaya for a fun two days with Emily on the 14th of January, then spend until the 18th at one section of the AMINEF mid-year conference whe all the ETAs will gather for more training and merriment.  On the 19th we all head to Lombok (Mataram) for additional training. Then, on the morning of the 21st, I will go MEET MY MOM IN BALI! We’ll be there until the 24th, when we’ll head back to Gorontalo.  She’ll stay and watch me teach/go see Saronde Island and other beautiful Gorontalo sites before leaving for the US on the 27th of January.  I cannot express how excited I am for the next month of my life, and especially for seeing my mom.  I don’t know when I’ll be able to update again, but I will try to find time between searching for Komodo dragons, learning to surf, diving with manta rays, eating chips and guacamole, bungee jumping, and any other crazy adventures I come across. Much love, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

Pictures: Bike Riding and MAN Limboto!

17 Nov

Sorry I haven’t updated in a while – I’m not really keeping my promise of once a week! My excuse this time was that I went away for the weekend and then ended up staying longer than I thought because I have this whole week off because of Idul Adha! I’ll post later about that trip and will put up some pictures of the vacation (when I get them from Melina and Polly and Jolie – my camera battery died the minute I got to Manado!) but for now, here are some pictures of my school, my students and my bike rides to tide you over!

One of my bikerides – this is my favorite view, especially when there’s a rainbow!
Another pretty bike-ride view.

Yesterday, after a serious rainstorm, my bike ride looked a little different.  Irrigation isn’t the best here, and I definitely rode past houses which were half underwater and rivers overflowing into the street.  The people seemed unfazed, however, as they sat on their porches saying hi to me.  I also noticed three houses I’d never noticed before – a yellow one with a bright red roof, a bright blue one, and a hot pink one.  I’ll take pictures of them next time – they’re really cute!

We were in the mood for an adventure, so we made Jolie's driver drive to somewhere he'd never been before - this little village was cute, but the rocks in the water hurt my feet!

I love this picture, for some reason.

Some of my students dressed up for Halloween! I was so happy! Trisul (in the middle) was about to change into her costume but wanted to be in the picture anyways.

Pictures of my kids watching Casper - they were sort of mad at me for taking these because it was so dark and my flash was so bright! About twice this many showed up in the middle in typical Indonesian style (being late, that is).

After a bike ride, my boys wanted to take a picture with me! Zul (10th grade) and Darwin (12th) are to the left and right of me.

My students (Alwin, Indrah, Febri, Sofian, a friend, and Rachmad) on the roof! Hati-hati (be careful)!

My school from on top of the roof! The ones with the greenish roofs are (from the left) the library, the mosque, and an 11th grade classroom. The red roofs are the teachers room and performance space on the left, and the ones on the left are classrooms for 11th grade religion and science classes.

More classrooms straight ahead!

Pretty sun over the rooftops.

More of my school - this courtyard is where many students greet me in the morning, afternoon and night, where we play games, where sometimes I teach class, and where the floods happen at school!

The teachers room, where all the teachers have desks.

The basketball court and student dorms on the right.

Pretty clouds at Jolie's school (Insan Cendekia, meaning brilliant person!)

A pretty rainbow to end the day 🙂

“Every Day is a Winding Road”

24 Oct

I taught this phrase to my co-teacher, Yunus, and he loves it – it’s how I describe to him how being in Indonesia feels to me.  We were in a car and this came on the radio and he asked me what it meant.  Sometimes I think Sheryl Crow really sums up how life can be in this town – not good, not bad, just surprising and completely unexpected.

Now that I am well, I have so much to talk about and seem to be really embracing life here in Limboto! I’m feeling much better – it took me 5 days of being sick to feel better, but  I did get to go to Manado the weekend after (October 15-17th).  Jolie and I got to see Polly, our ETA friend who lives outside of Manado in Amurang.  Our friend and ETA, Melina, also came to Amurang on Friday from Tomohon because it was Polly’s birthday! We had an amazing day filled with crazy food and cake and lovingly hovering Indonesians.  It was so nice to just hang out in Polly’s house with her PUPPY (yes, she has a dog, which goes by Puppy for now) that she got for her birthday! (If anyone is thinking of a late birthday present, my house is currently puppy-less!) It’s little and white and is really shy but slowly came out of her shell.  The next day we went to the beach and then to a wedding, which was very long but pretty and full of yet more food.  Since I was recovering from my unknown sickness, I couldn’t eat anything with any spice in it, but I did have some really good coconut yellow rice and marlin satay! The next day Polly and her counterpart Esther took up shopping in Manado, which was amazingly overwhelming. Jolie and I definitely experienced some culture shock walking into a HUGE Hypermart with everything in it under the sun, including gouda cheese for ~$25 a pound…yeah. It was also really interesting being in a Christian community – we wore dresses to the wedding that just came below my knee and went below my shoulder.  For weddings in Gorontalo/Limboto, I wear a shirt that goes at least past my elbows, definitely not a dress, and a skirt that goes to my ankles.  It was so nice to just hang out in a pretty dress that showed off some of my body and made me look attractive in a way I am used to – Muslim clothing is definitely attractive, but it’s also very conservative. Here are some pictures from our trip!

The kids at Polly's school performing Justin Bieber's "Baby" for her birthday!

Polly with the best birthday present ever - given to her by a student!

Polly and Jolie at Polly's party!

Polly, her cake and her excited students!

I call this one "Mother and Child".

The beach near Polly's house.

The wedding we went to.

Bride and groom!

The sweet band at the wedding!

Pretty sunset right outside MAN Limboto!

Today (Tuesday, October 19th) was the best I have felt so far in Limboto.  I think being sick for so long made me miss my students and gave me a renewed sense of purpose here. I’m really excited to be teaching debate to my more advanced students slowly but surely, and I think I’ve found a way to manage my bigger English Clubs – playing telephone in groups, and listening to music and making dialogues based off of new vocabulary words. I woke up feeling capable of facing anything.  I went into the teachers’ room (I have my own desk where teachers and Rici, a guy who works for the school, leave me snacks often).  I began the night before in somewhat of a bad mood – I hadn’t prepared my lesson for the 11th grade students and I found out 24 hours prior that I would be speaking at a conference today, which gave me no time to prepare! I woke up at 5:30am and went to work – in 20 minutes I had prepared my lesson (teaching them the verb “to be able to” and “there is/there are”) and in another hour I had planned my speech about teaching speaking in a fun and engaging way (with a lot of help from Penny Ur’s “Grammar Practices Activities” book).  I waited around for while until we left for the conference and then sat through an hour of introductions that I did not understand. Then I gave my speech slowly and clearly and hoped that people both understood me and weren’t completely bored.  Surprisingly, I got a lot of questions afterwards – Yunus made almost everyone talk about problems at their school or questions they had or comments or suggestions for other teachers.  It gradually evolved into a workshop where we all shared our opinions on teaching and we even played a “getting to know you” game together! The “workshop” lasted 90 minutes and I definitely had fun and felt somewhat useful – it was surprising how much I felt I could contribute to the conversation and how we could solve problems encountered by teachers together. The gist of my speech was just getting teacher to take curriculum they already had and make it more engaging for all students and aiming curriculum at encouraging speaking to a larger extent.  After we were done, I was asked to sign papers confirming my participation – Yunus told me it didn’t mean anything but that, so I didn’t think anything of it.  And then a woman hands me an envelope with an insane amount of money for a 90 minute presentation.

I ask Yunus to take it and then take him outside and begin to freak out.  I am NOT allowed to have another job or accept monetary compensation for anything on my grant.  I had no idea they were going to pay me in anything besides some food, perhaps.  He tells me it’s rude not to accept the money and if the school takes it, it’ll look like corruption and they could be investigated.  I repeat my statement and call Nadia (my contact at AMINEF), who talks to Yunus.  Yunus eventually tells me that Nadia says it’s ok if the school keeps the money in their name and buys me gifts with the money instead of giving it to me directly.  They tell me I can still keep the money with me, but I make Ibu Sarkiah take it.  They decide to take me cloths shopping, which is great! It still makes me uncomfortable, but I am trusting Yunus to tell me what he and Nadia discussed.  Pictures from the conference!

The conference panel - I wish I could tell you what the titles of the men sitting next to me were! They work for the local Ministry of Religion. Also, the poster is hilarious - what's more enticing than a white baby calling for you to join it in speaking English?

I just thought this picture was amazingly awkward - this gentleman is introducing the conference and I am attempting to listen with my quite limited Indonesian language skills.

Me giving my speech!

Asking questions.

Playing games!

Me and the lady teachers.

Me and about half the male teachers - I think some of them were afraid of me?

Another thing I forgot to mention about Indonesia (probably because it happens all the time) is that there are a lot of power outages.  About 5 days of every week, power goes out somewhere around school for varying lengths of time – anywhere from 2 minutes to 4 hours.  Usually it’s not a big deal, but one night, the entire school went out and everything was pitch black.  Everyone came out of their houses and we basically had a party on the basketball court outside my house.  Yunus was talking about how the students who are dating often find places to go during these blackouts, when no one can see them. Sure enough, when the power came back on, we saw a few students quickly separating from sitting next to each other.  The best part was watching the stars and talking with my neighbors and learning some more Bahasa J After the power went back on, I asked two students, Tiara and Irwan, and my neighbor Ibu Fatma to help me cook kangkung (grilled water spinach) and nasi goreng (fried rice).  It was so much fun hanging out with them and getting to know my new “family” better.  I also might attempt to make it on my own soon!

Wednesday, October 20th,  was my 60th day in Indonesia.   It’s so crazy that I’ve been here for that long.  It’s even crazier to think that I really won’t be here for that long in the grand scheme of my life.  I’m trying to enjoy every minute of life here and weather the frustrating moments.  I also have about 18 week days of vacation (not including Fridays, my day off), most of which occurs in November, December, January and February, which I am excited about! If I just stay prepared for lessons and realize that I have to let go of expectations, always.  I am falling in love with this place in so many ways and am so lucky to be in such a beautiful place with such amazing people.

The picture on this blog is another pretty sunsets – I’m on a roll! I promise the lead picture will be something different next time 🙂

Limboto in Pictures

5 Oct

The view from my living room

Take a few steps back and…

My cute little living room! The jars are full of cookies that people keep giving me.

Turn around and go left and you’re in the…

Kitchen - often home to many friends such as lizards, cockroaches and ants!

Take another left and you’re in my

My bathroom - it looks moderately clean from here, and there's a showerhead I couldn't fit in the picture. I often wake up to mice leaving presents for me on the floor, so I clean my bathroom often!

Turn around and you’re facing…

The other side of my kitchen - so grateful for my fridge, rice cooker, and water dispenser! Are you seeing a color theme yet? 🙂

Go through that door on the right and you’re in…

This is one of my favorite rooms (the study) - there's now a keyboard to the right of the desk and this room looks the most lived in because it's now messy!

Go out the door of the study and take a left and you’re in…

My bedroom - there's a TV on the left with local channels, and my awesome bedspread and mosquito net! Makes me feel like a princess.

Hope you enjoyed the tour! Here are some pictures from around school and at Saronde Island this past weekend!

Me and some of the male students at MAN Limboto - they're hilarious.

The kids at Insan Cendekia (Jolie's school) eating Indian food that Jolie made for us!

Shifa, Jolie and a friend get ready to go to Saronde Island!

Us on the boat ride over form the mainland!


I want to live here...

Needless to say, I was pretty stoked.

Kucing (that's what Jolie calls him) and Jolie arguing about whether the thing in the sky we were looking at was the moon or Mercury...

Me and Yunus keeping it real.

Jolie and I trying to jump at the same time for an action shot...

The only downside on this adventure was the mob that followed us everywhere asking for our picture...

There were at least a hundred people surrounding us while we ate lunch (these are just a sampling) and also blocking our view of the ocean...a little creepy, huh?

Despite our rather large fan base, we all had an awesome day!

Next post: My trip to a local school, my favorite phrase in Indonesian, my classes, and maybe some religion talk too!

Good Morning Limboto!

2 Oct

I woke up in Ibu Rose’s house feeling super bewildered – I had said I would go drive around town with her and her family, but I needed another hour and a half to sleep. When I woke up, the only person in the house was her daughter Ika, whose English is not bad at all for a 10th grader.  We talked for a little – she’s pretty shy but we got along well.  I also walked around the huge and beautiful house taking pictures! When her mom got back from the market, we went to lunch and drove around Limboto and Gorontalo for a while. We went to the beach too, which made me super happy!  It is SO beautiful here – I could not stop taking pictures.  For some reason, my favorite person in that family is the driver, Ben. He doesn’t speak any English at all, but somehow he knew what I needed to know and helped me out by teaching me easy words.  He also helped protect me from some of the people who wanted to take my picture – they don’t lie when they tell you you’ll be a celebrity in Indonesia if you’re buleh.  People call out to you and snap photos with or without asking. Sometimes he would drive by his friends and say hi – they would ask to take pictures, and he would just say “later”, smile, and drive on. Here are some pictures from that day:

The ride to the city.

Me, Ika, Ibu Rose and Apik after lunch.

Going to the beach! The car in front of us is a bentor, which is basically a motorcycle with two seats on the front that you can take around the area. They only have them in the Gorontalo area in all of Indonesia!

So yeah, this is the beach that's less than an hour from where I live...jealous?

More beach!

The magical view of the valley from the Governor's building.

Ben and I on a bridge over the river.

Sunset in the jungle.

The next day was my birthday! Jolie and Trisna came to pick me up to take me to the beach, which was AMAZING. Right off the beach there are reefs – I saw so many angel-fish and some parrot fish and other fish I thought were super pretty.  We then went to lunch, which was also awesome – there was a huge spread of fish and soup and greens and rice (of course) laid out o the table with a happy birthday sign and some cake. It made me so happy, despite the fact that I was tired and confused and overwhelmed at being away from all the ETAs. We also sang karaoke later, where Jolie and I were encouraged strongly to sing “Lupa, Lupa Tapi Ingat” for our party train.  I also sang some No Doubt and listened to some pretty awesome renditions of Air Supply’s “Goodbye” by several Indonesians.  We then went back to Jolie’s house for some much needed ETA nongkrong-ing (hanging out/doing nothing) before I went back to Ibu Rose’s house for the last dinner away from my new home! I couldn’t wait to get to my new house in order to make it my home by putting my stuff everywhere and getting to know my community. Pictures:

Another beautiful beach!

The Ibus from Insan Cendekia being cute.

Trisna, Ibu Fitri and me!

Mountains and ocean? ohh yeah!

Blowing out my candles!

Trisna, Jolie, me and Pak Suwardi signing our hearts out!

The next day, I was picked up by several MAN Limboto employees and driven to school.  Ibu Sarkia introduced me to anyone she could find, which I know now was almost the entire staff and almost the students at the school. It was really hot at around 11am and sweat was dripping onto everyone I touched, which made me feel embarrassed but apparently did not phase my new friends.  I was lead to my house, which is super cute (I will post pictures of my new home and my school soon – I forgot that people might want to see pictures of where I live and work!) and was followed by a train of mostly women fussing over me, my bags, and my house. They attempted to straighten every corner of the curtains in my house, as well as remake my bed all while holding my hand, literally, or my shoulder or my back. I felt like a little puppy who was just picked up from the pet store – I even had another ring of flowers around my neck! I was really happy to have a house, but felt pretty overwhelmed by all the people speaking Indonesian around me and laughing at me for reasons I could not understand.

My house is really nice (the theme is pink and orange, with yellow and white on the outside – everything in Indonesia is quite brightly colored!): when you enter, there is a little sitting room with a few chairs and a table. If you keep going straight, there is a small kitchen with a water cooler, rice cooker, gas stove, and sink.  If you turn left, there is a pink bathroom with a Western toilet (which has definitely come in handy – thank you AMINEF/Fulbright!) and a shower-head. To the right is a study room, which I will also make into a sort of guest room for when people visit. To the right of that is my bedroom – I have a small boudoir for my clothes, a rug, and a TV that gets local Indonesian channels on top of a really nice set of shelves.  My bed is pretty awesome – it’s got pink sheets and a huge pink comforter (I guess they thought I’d get cold with the air conditioner, which is also pretty sweet!) and so many pillows.  I spent the rest of that day unpacking and getting to know Ibu Sarkiah and Yunus and Dian, the two English teachers I’ll be working with.  We went shopping for food, some kitchen supplies, and to visit several important people at the Ministries of Education and Religion, as well as the police office to try to register me without my police card (however unsuccessfully).  I will write in the next post about how amazing each of these people are and what they’ve done for me, as well as the funny and fascinating things I’ve encountered in being here 🙂 The featured picture on this post is me on a boat on the ocean!