News from a bule in Indonesia
Just writing to let you know that I made it to Indonesia. I have been in
Jakarta for a few days now. I think I have just about recovered from jet
lag, but still sleep 12 hours every night. Jakarta is a big, polluted city, with very rich and very poor living side by side. It is about as hot and humid as Texas, with a lot more smog. So many people live here, it's unbelievable. I took the most crowded train ride to Bogur yesterday. I've never been so intimate with so many people. The smells are very new to me. A mixture of human waste, sweat, fried food and garbage. I'm sure you're all ready to hop on a plane to Jakarta right now!
So far, I've been to the national museum, a national monument, and the
botanical gardens. The gardens were the best. They were designed by dutch green thumbs during the age of imperialism. Again, more people than I've ever seen visiting a botanical garden in the States.
What I love about Indonesia so far:
Great food (Gado gado and tahu goreng are yummy)
Kids giggling at me because I'm a bule (white person). They usually shout "hello mister" regardless of gender
Multiple mandis ("baths" taken while squatting and using a plastic scoop to pour water on yourself) every day
Different calls, tunes, bells of street vendors selling various foods and sundries
Yesterday a group of young people (early 20s?) asked if they could take a
picture with me. It was very odd, but fun because it made them happy.
I am staying in the VIA home office, which is a nice home complete with
Indonesian home cooking. Lukman and Soeranto are making me and the other
volunteers (Alice, Maddy, Catherine and Shannon) feel very welcome. When we arrived, Bob Marley was playing on their jam box. Actually, there are many similarities between here and Jamaica.
We stay up at night singing a combination of American folk and 60s rock
songs and learning Indonesian rebel music.
The sound of arabic singing early in the morning and at dusk to call people to mosque is very soothing. Although, I am told I will get tired of it when it starts to wake me up too early in the morning.
My vocabulary is improving a little every day, but I have much work to do. Luckily, we are leaving Jakarta tomorrow to go to Yogyakarta and start language training for a few weeks. Then, we will all separate and go to our posts.
Today, I did my first bit of hand-washed laundry. It was a relief from the heat. Anything that involves water is a wonderful thing here.
I'm sure I have many other interesting observations to share with you, but I will have to fill you in later. I hope all of you are well and are staying cool!