Tag Archives: Diving

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!


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!

A Surprise Vacation Itinerary: Part Satu

20 Nov

Day 1
I got up at 3:30am to gather my things and wake my driver up so I could make it to the airport to catch my flight to Manado by 5:30.  I got there around 5 because we left late, but because the airport is so small and I have made this trip before, people know who I am already and make me feel like the tiny jet is my personal Air Force One.  I landed in Manado and am greeted by Reagan, the brother of Ester, who is Polly’s counterpart.  Reagan was named after none other than Ronald Reagan, who was president when he was born.  We first went to Reagan’s school, where I introduced myself to grades 1-6 and took pictures with the gym class while they played tug of war (I was too tired to ask them to take a picture of me pulling on the rope against 25 4th graders with my camera and while I was definitely being a good sport, just wanted to either nap or hang out with my friends!) After going to his school, Reagan was extremely helpful – he helped me take three mikrolets to the bus to Tomohon, but then, in true Indonesian fashion, invited himself to hang out with Melina, Polly and I when we had our whole day planned around just us girls.  Polly was really nice and gently recommended he return to Manado because he wouldn’t want to do all of the girly things we were going to do that day.  Tomohon is definitely cooler in temperature most of the day (i.e. not when the sun is at its highest) and I wore a sweatshirt on the bus ride up! Total culture shock after being in sweltering Limboto!

I went to Melina’s school first, SMK Santa Familia (a Catholic school, completely with a mission, brothers and nuns!) where Ms. Riah, Melina’s counterpart, took me to meet ALL of the classes (16 in total…).  Melina’s school is different than mine in almost every way possible – her school has many floors, many more classes, and walking through the school, there always seemed to be another room to discover! Her students are also learning hands-on skills, such as tourism, administration, and cooking/fashion.  Most of these concentrations prepare you for jobs that require/prefer proficiency in English, especially tourism.  This was really inspiring to me – here is a school where English teaching is completely applicable to most of the students! At my school, I know some students want to be English teachers, some just LOVE English, some may leave Gorontalo for their career, and some may go to graduate school, but most will not NEED proficiency English to find gainful employment in the career they wish to pursue if they want to stay in Limboto/Gorontalo (which most of them want to do).  I mentioned this to Melina, who agreed, but then pointed out that SMK schools are a second choice for those students leaving junior high school – most want to attend an SMA (or if you’re Muslim, a pesantren or a MAN such as MAN Limboto). Ergo, most of the students in her classes, she says, are largely unmotivated to learn to begin with.  This gives Melina the added challenge of instilling a love of learning in her students, which I admire her for immensely and know she is completely capable of doing.

We taught the class about question words (what, where, who, when, why, how, etc.) and then asked each table to come up with one really interesting question for me or Melina.  The most interesting question I got was “Why did you want to be a teacher?” I found myself struggling to easily answer this question, and I didn’t answer it this way for them, but honestly, I’m not sure! All I really know is that communicating with my kids, in whatever way we can, is what makes me happy.  When understanding, however small, is achieved, I get extremely happy.  The other day, a girl in one of my shy classes, Lisna, correctly demonstrated the difference between “her” and “she” after being completely silent for the entire class up until that point, and I was so happy I practically cried (instead, I gave her a high five and sort of jumped a little in an effort to awkwardly contain my excitement). Those are the days where I’m so glad I’m here!

After hanging out at Melina’s school (which has a kitchen and an OVEN, so she can BAKE at school!), we went to her house, which is super interesting – one part, the downstairs, has a little kitchen, a living room, and an extra bedroom; the back part opens up to a huge concrete room with a ton of space (she has her bathroom, sink and stove here); upstairs (the best part) is a traditional Minahassan house (the people who live in North Sulawesi), which looks and feels like a nicely carved tree house! Polly arrived with Ester, her counterpart, and we went by car to Lake Linow, which is both green and purple-ish (we were told it changed color, which wasn’t quite the case).  It was so beautiful there and it was so nice to just sit and sip coffee and eat cookies with my girls 🙂 The lake also had the nicest bathroom I have seen since leaving the Sheraton in Bandung – you notice these things when you live in Indonesia! Later, we picked up some provisions at Cool, the local grocery store, and caught up over tea! Here are some pictures from Lake Linow:

Me, Melina and Polly are so excited for cool weather and coffee!

Me and Polly are really excited by the pine trees and were experiencing mild culture shock - when we looked up at the pine trees and wore our sweatshirts and felt the breeze blowing, it almost felt like early fall in America!

Ester, Me, Melina, Polly and Vica by the lake 🙂

Our coffee and the lake (the lake has different colors due to the concentration and mixing of sulfure and another mineral).

Day 2:
Polly and I woke up at 7am to catch the bus back to Manado, where we headed to the lovely Santika Resort/Thalassa Dive Center to do some diving and snorkeling. I met one really cool veteran diver in particular named Ian – he was in his early 60s and from Perth, Australia.  At first, being around so many buleh was overwhelming and reminded me of how individualistic Western people can be sometimes.  Ian was really great though – he was my buddy on my first dive in Indonesia and helped me navigate currents and make my initial descent.  On that dive, I saw mini-seahorses, nudibranchs, a million fish, beautiful coral, and some tiny crabs.  Most of the people on the dive had HUGE cameras that must have cost them tens of thousands of dollars – it made me want one some day, but at the same time, most of your time under water is spent with your camera! I feel like it would be hard to really appreciate the beauty of being underwater if you were constantly seeing it through a camera lens, but there’s something really appealing about capturing that world on film.  After the dive, Ian gave me some pointers on diving – I needed much less weight on my weight belt, and I needed to spit in my mask before using it so it didn’t fog up 🙂 Polly and I both were tired from the dive and snorkel, so we decided to pack up our things (instead of doing a second snorkeling session as planned) and head back to Manado to meet Melina in the Mega Mall, after which we returned to Tomohon.

Here comes the “surprise” part of the vacation: the night before, I had received several texts from teachers at my school (Ibu Anthy, who teaches 10th grade, and Ibu Sumarni, my other counterpart who teaches 12th grade) telling me I had the whole week off because of Idul Adha.  Half of what they said was in Indonesian, so I tried to get in touch with Yunus to translate and tell me, definitively, which days I had off this week.  Yunus was doing survey work for his second job working for a polling company on some islands between Sulawesi and the Philippines and had no cell phone reception most of the time, so through a series of phone calls and consulting my AlphaLink, I learned that yes, I did have the whole week off.  I did want to go home for Idul Adha on Wednesday, and after a million texts, phone calls in English/broken Indonesian, and car rides to Lion Air, we all made extending my vacation for two more days possible (special thanks to Ester, Polly and Yunus for helping me).  This took until Sunday morning to finalize, fyi!

I definitely experience culture shock when I go to North Sulawesi/Manado/Tomohon/Amurang, largely because the entire area is mostly Christian.  It’s so different seeing most women without jilbabs and to see churches everywhere instead of mosques.  Not hearing the call to prayer was also really different – I definitely missed it, despite its frequency in my life and the fact that it wakes me up most mornings at 4:30 am.  Christians are also really fascinated by the fact that I, a seemingly Christian girl, work in a madrasah (the M in MAN Limboto stands for madrasah).  “Do they make you wear a jilbab when you teach?”, “Is it difficult working there?” and “Do you feel safe?” are often questions I get asked by Christians (not just in Manado/Tomohon/Amurang) – I almost get the sense (Melina has also thought this) that they’re protective of their religion because they’re in the minority in Indonesia.  Yunus told me about his experiences as a Muslim coming to Manado, and has always had great things to say about Christians – they’re so welcoming, they buy him a bowl that’s never touched pork/non-halal food, and they tell him where the nearest mosque is if he needs to pray.  He had really enlightening conversations with his Christian hosts about religion, and even traded Bible/Koran stories.  My experience living in a Muslim community (which I am very attached to) and traveling to a Christian one is so different from my friend who is Muslim and traveling to a Christian area.  Perhaps the Christians are afraid of me converting to Islam (converting being the wrong word because I’m not Christian in the first place)? Sometimes I inwardly because frustrated with the questions I was asked by Christians and just wanted to say “the people where I am are just as nice and hospitable as you are and care about me very much – they just wear more conservative clothing and pray more often, but for a shorter period of time, than you do.” Other than Muslims not eating pork or dog, that’s pretty much it.  It’s hard not to get defensive of my area because they are some of the most amazing people I’ve met in my life – I would hate for their culture and experience to go misunderstood.  Keep in mind – Manado is 40 minutes from me by plane; the fact that Melina, Polly and I are so close but share such different cultures is just one example of how diverse Indonesia is.

Day 3:
On what was supposed to be my last day in the Manado area (but ended up being the middle of my trip!) we walked around Tomohon and later met with Maryo, a really bright student studying in Manado whose English is amazing for being 16, his mother, father and little sister Glory.  Melina told him about some scholarships he could apply for, which got me really inspired to talk to my school and surrounding schools about some of them.  One is only for 10th grade high school students – it’s a scholarship for them to study in a high school in the US for one year! After the talk, Maryo’s family invited us to go to Lake Tondano with them! We first ate at a restaurant along the shore (fish, kangkung and rice – always!) that had HUUGE koi-like fish in a sort of net for eating! Then we went to a pretty spot further along the lake to watch the sun set.  After the lake, we drove to Ester’s house and began a long trek through the mountains to Amurang at night 🙂 Pictures:

Me and Polly looking tough - I have no idea why I wanted to pose this way...that's a volcano in the background, by he way!

Melina and Polly being cute.

Melina with some kids haha!

Lake Tondano!

More Lake Tondano.

Melina, Maryo, and me.

MarMaryo, Indri (Maryo's mom), Me, Melina, Glory and their dad at Lake Tondano.

Day 4:

The three of us woke up at 7 to catch a mikrolet to Polly’s school by 7:45am – we briefly went to her first class before heading to Manado to pick up my ticket back to Gorontalo for the next day (bye Polly!).  We were driven there in a “dark taxi” (taxi gelap) which is basically someone’s personal car they use as a taxi unofficially.  It cost about 1/15 of what a normal taxi would charge from Amurang to Manado though! The guy driving was SO nice and spoke amazing English – he works for a gold mine teaching aerobics.  He wanted to take us to lunch, but we took too long in the Lion Air office and told him he shouldn’t wait for us.  We went back to Tomohon and hung out for the rest of the day 🙂

Day 5:

The next morning, we walked/caught a mikrolet to SMK St. Familia with Melina in time to go to her first class at 8:45 and chat with the teachers in the kamar guru (teacher’s room).  She taught a class on numbers – students had to practice “calling” their friends and repeating their phone numbers to get better at saying them.  This was really useful for the administration kids! Some kids were also practicing a local instrument for a competition, and they apparently made nationals!

Students practicing at SMK St. Familia.

After class, I said goodbye to Melina until probably January and caught a mikrolet to the bus station, where I hopped on a bus to Manado.  Our bus stopped half-way to Manado because a car burst into flames on one side of the road.  After sitting and waiting patiently in line to go by for a while, my bus driver decided to gun it past the burning car, hoping we wouldn’t catch fire ourselves.  We made it, but it got REALLY hot in the bus for a while! I went shopping for some cheese for Jolie and some grapes for me, then gradually made my way home via a taxi, then a plane. Good times!

Coming up next in Part Dua: Idul Adha and DIVING!

Some Two-Weeks-Till-Adventure Thoughts

7 Aug

This is going to come out in a bit of a random order, but bear with me! Keep in mind – I’m leaving in two weeks!

– I do not have either my visa, my plane ticket, or my flight itinerary, which is slightly worrisome. Even when I get my permission from the Indonesian government (or in my case, because I’m teaching at a pesantren (Islamic boarding school), the Ministry of Religion), I have to send my passport to DC or NY along with other things, and I’m pretty skeptical that it will get back to me in time to leave.  I’m trying to look at this as my first lesson in patience about traveling to and being in Indonesia, however – I’m going to need a lot of patience in times to come, so there’s no use in me getting too worked up now 🙂

– I’ve decided against buying a B&N Nook (it’s the only e-book reader which would have gotten here before I leave) because I really want a Kindle (which is on mad back-order).  I am going to have to survive on printed word alone, and anything I can download to my computer before I leave! If anyone has good book suggestions, let me know!

– I have discovered the “Indonesia Fulbright ETA (’10-’11)” Facebook group, which has been such a comfort and a great way to meet people and discuss mutual concerns and joys about our upcoming sojourn to the East. Everyone seems so great and comes from such different backgrounds and it makes me so excited to meet people in two weeks!

– I’ve been pretty addicted to Rosetta Stone and took a break for a day (tomorrow I’m going back) – I think I’m going too slowly though, I’m still on Unit 1! I can say something to the effect of “the/a girl” (seorang anak perempuan) “the/a boy” (seorang anak laki-laki) and “the/a dog” (seekor anjing).  There are few, if any, dipthongs in Indonesian – therefore most vowels are separated, i.e. seekor is pronounced “seh-ehkor” (man  wish I could type in IPA…). The trouble is, as of now, I don’t know which words make which parts of speech, so I have a lot to learn! I feel like it will take me a few months to finish the entire program, and I also plan on getting a Bahasa Indonesia tutor once in Indonesia. It’s super weird at first (they don’t translate anything, just give you pictures or words or audio and you do matching and recognition exercises).  Having take a few language classes, they usually involve some English in the explanation of words, and you’re at least allowed a few freebies when you ask “como se dice eso/esto”, etc. It takes some getting used to, but is really fun, except when the accent detector gives you a low score when you try out speaking – I’m not that bad, I swear!

– I really lucked out in my placement in that there is a TON of diving right near where I live, so much so that I will most likely not get to all of the dive sites in 9 months (but I will sure as hell try :)) I’ve been looking at this website (http://www.miguelsdiving.com) which has some really nice looking dives that are somewhat reasonable (especially the packages). I’ve decided to buy some gear (a shorty wetsuit, flippers, a mask/snorkel, and a BCD with weights at the very least) in Indonesia because for the amount of diving I’m doing, paying the equivalent of $20 per gear rental will add up quickly.  I just hope it’s cheaper there than it is here! I’m so excited to expand my diving palate beyond Boston Harbor and the one dive we did in Bermuda.  My dad and I are actually going diving next Friday or Saturday near Gloucester (hopefully), so I’ll get my fill of cold water diving before the 80 degree water of Indonesia 🙂

– I’m also really interested in the musical and film culture of Indonesia and really hope I’m around for a local film festival! I’m pretty sure I’ll get to see a gamelan orchestra at some point. A fellow ETA posted an article on NPR that linked to this video, “Laskar Pelangi” by Nidji:

It’s really cute music and it gives you an idea of how beautiful the Indonesian language is. A DJ for Indonesian MTV talking about Indonesian pop music was quoted as saying “We’re romantic people…We love our mellow songs.” I’d be interested to hear more Indonesian pop and get a sense of what role music plays in the life of Indonesians.

– Finally, on a completely unrelated note, I just watched “The Hunt for Red October” (starring Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin, and more!) with my dad, and we talked about the Cold War and how it affected his life growing up, and even in the early eighties. Since he lived 17 miles from Times Square, he had to do air raid drills where they would all go into the basement or hide under desks.  I think the threat of nuclear war really got to my Dad – it’s something that my generation doesn’t think about every day. He used to have nightmares about New York being destroyed and having to find food that wasn’t contaminated by radiation, etc. He told me some other good Cold War movies to watch, but I never knew how it affected my dad until today.

More to come on Limboto/Indonesia – I promise I have a bunch of random facts, they’re just scattered everywhere!