A quick note to let everyone know that I am alive and well. I have finally received my baggage after United Airlines losing it a WEEK ago. I spent my first days in Indonesia wearing the few items of clothing I was able to pick up during my one day stay in Singapore.
I live in what appears to be a real life Dharma Initiative compound. My home (Guesthouse 1) is where all the ex-pat teachers and a few other workers live. We are from various places including Shanghai, the Philippines, Nepal, the United States and India.
My schedule is quite nice actually. Monday and Tuesday are relaxed with only 1 teaching session each (2 hours) allowing me to use these days for planning and the remaining days are spread between my two classes but still with enough variation to keep my weeks interesting.
So far I have experienced my water not working, a thunderstorm and the power going out (at the same time), the Frogger-esque driving of all Indonesians, a traditional Indonesian market and hilarious money trade practices.
Additionally, I am jumping into Indonesian (specifically Sumatran) foods. Teachers have the option to buy into catering provided by the parents of our students. This means that I get a homecooked (and hot!) meal for lunch each day for a very small monthly fee (approx. $13 USD). Above is a photo of what I am eating today. They really love their chilis and there are moments when my nose is running and my eyes are watering but it really is delicious. Additionally, I am learning about local fruits, veggies and fish. Today I have some amazing mangosteen (in Bahasa Indonesia: manggis) for my dessert (in the small purple container in the photo)! Hopefully I’ll soon be able to replicate some of the things that I’m enjoying for lunch!
In regards to a few cultural things:
1) Shoes, take ’em off a lot, even in some retail shops prior to entering.
2) Appliances are cheap, linens are not
3) Indonesians love their tobacco. It’s intense how much smoking goes on here and the rate at which people go through cigarettes.
4) Going to an Indonesian market means that you can pick out your chicken (alive) and come back in 10 minutes and it will be waiting for you in a bag, perfectly sectioned off for cooking. (Thankfully my co-worker knows the only guy that sells local chickens, rather than the hormone-charged ones that are stacked 30 thick in tiny cages).
5) Barter, barter, barter…and bring a local if possible, yeah, I’m a bule and going to be charged double if someone doesn’t suggest otherwise.