Idul Fitri was at the beginning of this month and it was nice to have a few days off. Going back to school after breaks is always tough and we all drug our feet a little. I definitely was way over jet lag at that point and dragging my body out of bed at 7am became the hardest part of the day. I decided after the first week back from Idul Fitri break to start getting up a bit earlier to give myself time to wake up and prepare my mind and spirit for the day. I now get up at around 6:30 and listen to some music and some BBC as I go through the slow motions of getting dressed, packing my bag for the day, check email, and go over some bahasa Indo notes. I also find that my journal entries are much more hopeful and positive when I write in the morning. There's something about the night that gives me a more somber view on life here and while that can be good for reflection, it's good to record my lighter, morning thoughts. My home-missings have happened all at night, when they happen at all. I am happy here and I can say I'm pretty content and present.
So yes. Establishing rhythm is essential for my feeling at home and it's been a good exercise for me.
The weekend of the 19th we went to a beach called Suing near Yogyakarta. Yogya is on the south border of the middle of Java. Salatiga is where I'm staying now and is an hour south away from Samarang- the capital of central Java. Some photos of the trip can be found here on Rae's blog : http://raehalder.wordpress.com/2010/09/21/pantai-foto-post/
One photo is of the shack on the beach that we stayed at the first night we were there. The second night we got kicked out (we hadn't reserved it and someone else had. oups. ) and ended up staying on the floor of the warung (an outside restaurant) next door. I go to hike up a little mountain with Rae where she took the beach pic, but unfortunately due to the runs couldn't go much farther. Happily, my health is all better now. With the help of MCC worker Dan and his ameba-killing drugs, the flora in my stomach (I did not know that I had flora in my body before this sickness getting) is now stable.
We were there for a weekend and other than changing our living quarters, sleeping on super hard floors and having the runs, the weekend was quite enjoyable. Loitering on the beach, finding sea life, getting wet in the shallow water, reading, laughing, eating awesome fish, and frolicking on rocks.
This past week was adventurous. On Wednesday we got to plant rice in a "sawa" together. The mud went up to our knees and the process of plunging little bunches of rice plant into the mud garden was a pretty unique experience. We guessed it wouldn't be long after we left that someone would come back along and correct what we destroyed of the rice paddy but hey, we tried.
On Thursday I went to a house warming service. I actually really enjoyed that because there was a man who translated the service for us and the man preaching had really good insights into God. He's a wise man and it was encouraging to hear his thoughts. I also got make pretty good conversation in Bahasa Indonesia. Score. My knowledge is growing and every night less words are falling out of my head.
On Friday we went to play traditional Javanese music and learn a little about Wayang Kulit. The puppets are pretty scary, not going to lie... But, it was good to learn about the history of them and to get to know their characters. Banging on symbols was pretty fun too. We were pretty bad at it and it gave me a head ache by the end but hey. It's about the experience. I'll put up pictures soon.
Saturday we had planned to go to a tree-top climbing place but unfortunately it rained like crazy all day. Ended up being a pretty fun day though. Had a great late breakfast at home consisting of home made granola and banana bread. Then Leanne and I met up with Tyler (I live near him and Leanne was staying with me the weekend). Thats when the heavens opened and we became the victims of the oh-so-stinking-often rains of Indonesia. Drenched. Luckly I had brought an umbrella and Tye and Lea bought themselves one and we leisurely walked to Este Soto, # 1 Soto place in Salatiga. So, so good. Soto is a stew of rice, chicken, bean sprouts, garlic, lemon weed, lime leaves, turmeric, and fried onions. There we met up with the rest of the gang and watched the rain get harder and harder at which point we decided that tree swinging would not be wise. So we walked down the main shopping area slowly and ended up at the Cozy cafe, a westernish but still Indo restaurant where we eat and drank some (juice and tea of course. :) I had an amazing blueberry yogurt smoothie that is definitely worthy of a blog mention.) and played the card game President till late. Dinner and laughter at my family's house and then convincing Tyler to come with Leanne and I to Yogyakarta for a wedding and shopping the next day.
Sunday was a full, full day but very fun and distracting (in a good way). The wedding in the morning was extravagant and the food was the best I've tasted in Indonesia (minus the fermented rice ice cream). Beautiful people, beautiful colors, wonderful food, and a few stares. Next we went shopping and I was able to get traditional Batik (printed cloth) oleh-oleh (awesome word to say, it means souvenirs) for myself and family members. I got a pink skirt (gasp) that will be great for teaching in Kudus and this is blog-mention-worthy because of it's implication for my growing up. I have begun to accept pink as an acceptable and respectable color to wear. Mother, be proud. After that we had dinner at McDonalds and it tasted JUST like the real thing and lead to some deep thoughts and conversation about western culture in the world. More thoughts on that later. Maybe. :)
Overall a very relaxing and funny week with new experiences and sights, sounds, and glimpses at what makes Indonesia what it is. Also some good deep thinking about this place, about God, and about what it means to be white here. I am growing and there are good thoughts being thought. Change is happening and I like it.