Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Cyclone Fun

Indonesia does not experience four seasons like some parts of America. I say some parts because the Great State of Texas doesn't have a long fall like Washington, but then again Western Washington has about a week of summer. 

Indonesia is much the same. They tend to have two seasons- Rainy and Dry. We experienced rainy season in both Bandung and Bali. The first experience was in language school. We were learning so many things regarding language and culture but never caught on to the idea that we ALWAYS need to pack our rain gear for our afternoon outings. It never failed- sunny, beautiful blue skies when we left on the motorcycle; dark clouds, hard rains, flooded streets, and no rain gear when we were ready to come home. The second experience was in Bali after our first trip back to America. We were jetlagged, missing half our luggage, and hungry. It was sunny with beautiful blue skies when we left the hotel to find food. We learned our lesson and had our rain jackets in our backpack, so when the bottom fell out of the sky we were some what prepared. We still were soaked, lesson learned- take a taxi. 

Papua on the other hand is a different story in many ways. Even the weather in this region is different from the other parts of the country. Did I mention that Indonesia is about 3 times the size of Texas? As a Texan, I measure everything in "Texas". Anyways it's a big place. Papua's seasons are like this: Dry and West Wind. Rain does come during the West Wind season but with it comes huge gusts of wind. The rain usually comes in the evening and creates a nice sound on your rooftops. I hear that people miss that sound when they leave. I can understand why, it's very soothing and comforting. 

Cyclone season brings a totally different kind of wind. It brings the kind of wind that will rip up deeply rooted trees from the ground. It will rip nails out of your roofing materials. It's the kind of wind that makes all the starfruit fall to the ground before they are ready to eat. It's the wind that makes every single grain of dirt sting any open skin. BUT it's also the wind that makes it great to fly a kite.

Mary Poppins says it best: 
With tuppence for paper and string
You can have your own set of wings
With your feet on the ground you're a bird in flight
With your fist holding tight to the string of your kite

Let's go fly a kite
Up to the highest height
Let's go fly a kite and send it soaring
Up through the atmosphere
Up where the air is clear
Oh let's go fly a kite

When you send it flying up there
All at once you're lighter than air
You can dance with the breeze over houses and trees
With your fist holding tight to the string of your kite

Let's go fly a kite
Up to the highest height
Let's go fly a kite and send it soaring
Up through the atmosphere
Up where the air is clear
Oh let's go fly a kite

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Rainy Days, Indoor Plays

In recent weeks past Indonesia was surrounded by at least 4 cyclones. Cyclones have names, just like hurricanes. Cyclone Pam, Cyclone Nathan, and two others caused crazy winds, unpredictable weather, and hard rains. Large trees were blown over throughout our town. Neighbors were braving the winds and repairing roof damage. Temperatures were much cooler. I actually enjoyed the change in weather, but the way our house is set up the strong winds didn't blow directly into our house, like others experienced. Weather would change in a 20 minutes span... sunny, rain, heavy rain, wind, sunny again.

It was weird. 

So it made playing outside difficult. Kids would seek shelter under carports or trees to wait out the rain. Probably because they didn't want to go home, but might get in trouble if they were just soaked. So we opened up our gate and asked them to come play. The power was out that day, so leaving the front door open was no problem. Oh wait, that's NEVER a problem because we don't have central AC here. Neighborhood kids left their shoes outside and came inside. 

They love playing with all of Kate's toys. Balls, buses that playing nursery rhymes, toy pianos, and her set of cheap plastic letters and numbers. 

So I thought let's have an impromptu English language lesson. I grabbed one of Kate's alphabet concept books- you know the "A is for Apple, B is for Ball...". I said let's try to spell these words in English using the letters. We could only spell the words that did not have double consonants. 

It was interesting because the ones who were most interested were the boys who were not enrolled in school. They found the letters, spelled the words, and then pronounced the word in English. Then when we finished the book I asked them to make sure all the letters and numbers were there. We had an alphabet formed across the floor, and all were accounted for. 

They were eager to learn. I'm wondering what potential opportunities will unfold from cheap plastic letters and numbers. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Did you hear the one about the duck?

Did you hear the one about the duck? For some reason it sounds like the beginning of a great joke to me with a punchline that will have you wetting your pants. But seriously, did you hear about the duck?

K and I were on our way home from playing soccer when I had to brake for a duck in the middle of the road near my neighborhood. Living here I've had to brake for many things: adults, kids, soccer balls, bicycles, motorcycles, cars, dogs, cats, goats, pigs, cows, chickens, rats, frogs, cockroaches (just kidding! I run those suckers over), and now I can add duck to my list. 

This braking felt weird. There's a lake "near" my house, but it's not close enough for that duck to get confused. There's no pond or other body of water large or small near by, so this duck in my neighborhood left me saying,"Huh, that's different." If I'm honest with myself, I probably say that many times through my day, week, or month. I'd be rich if I had money for every time I either said it or heard it said. 

K and I left the house again for a quick store trip and on our way home the duck was still there. It was a hot day and it had found a nice shaded spot in front of our neighbor's gate. K and I unloaded and I took her to see the duck. We have pictures of ducks in our books, but to see one in real life in our neighborhood was something to see up close. Also this duck was not like most ducks in picture books. 

Later that afternoon we went out again. I asked the kids in the neighborhood if they had seen the duck. We all talked about how strange it was that it was there. They ran to where it was and pointed to show us that he was still there. 

The next day he was gone. Just like that. Someone may have enjoyed a nice duck dinner or he may have just found waddled to another place. 

You never know what you'll see here. Sometimes it's strange or different and most of the time it's unexpected, but it's so fun to see the differences and examine them, admire them, and learn from them. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Broken Shoes

A broken shoe is not an uncommon thing here. 
This is a sign that you've worn the same shoes for the past 2 or 3 years
 and it's almost time for you to return to your home country!

Sole separates from shoe

The heat and the humidity (H&H) melts away the glue that holds the shoe to its sole. H&H laugh when we spend money on shoes that are guaranteed not to separate! They accept our challenge and ALWAYS win. Here are a couple of my shoes that have lost the fight against H&H.

This happened while I was playing indoor soccer!
So I had been dragging my feet in search of a new pair of shoes that I liked and didn't have to spend a lot of extra money on. The day before I looked at the local sports store. I found one that I could live with, but they didn't have the shoe in my size. The other pair would force me never to look at my feet and just be thankful I wasn't barefoot. So I skipped on purchasing and walked out with my soles clapping with each step- a victory for them. 

While I was washing dishes, staring out my window, I saw a man walk by on the road. He was calling out "Sepatu", which is Indonesian for "shoe". When I say "calling out", he was really singing as he walked. He jingle was like this "Se-Pa-Toooooooo", which each syllable an octave above the previous. He was very fast, because by the time it registered in my head what he was singing and my running outside he was at the end of my street. I called to him,"Excuse me!" He turned around, and I waved at him. He was at my gate before I could gather my broken shoes. He walked with a stick that was balanced on his shoulder. The ends of the stick had boxes dangling from it. Inside those boxes were the materials that would be used to perform an operation on my shoes. He sat across from my house under the shade of the neighbor's starfruit tree and went to work. The operation lasted less than an hour, for he had skilled hands. I provided him with cold water, and left him with my shoes. 

The cost of repairing both shoes was less than the price of one new pair. I feel like I got a deal. I didn't even have to leave my house!

The shoes were glued and then stitched with matching thread. I'd say the operation was a success! 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Lesson Learned

Living on a remote island can be disillusioning at times.

You forget that grocery stores in your home country don't smell like this.

You forget that it's not normal to see rats racing across the ceiling beams in your home country.

You forget that even though all bell peppers begin the same color and change as they grow on the vine, that same process doesn't happen in the local grocery store, although local store owners believe that it does. 

Living on a remote island has taught me that I will always love the hunt for a good find at the best price. 

I enjoy [when the internet cooperates] finding the cheapest plane tickets. I don't mind sitting for a couple hours in the local travel agency buying tickets for myself or friends, as long as I get a good deal and can exchange my current ticket if a better one comes up before my travel date. 

I enjoy finding discounted items at the grocery store. Another part of the "fun" is not knowing the actual price of anything until you get the register and the cashier rings it up. 

Animal crackers for Kate- only 7,000 rupiah (roughly 70 cents) for a pack of 8, don't mind if I do! 

Imported granola bars from Australia- only 20,000 rupiah (roughly $2) for a pack of- I don't care, they're from Australia!! 

Our favorite fresh chocolate milk 70% off!! I'll take two, I think we can chug all this "Choco-Malt" before the expiration date of the 20th. [And we did!] This is not an item they have all the time, so it was a treat. 

I guess living here there are always some risks that need to be taken when buying these discounted items. I *thought* I enjoyed finding a good deal, until last week... 

I'm strolling through the store with Baby Kate in the baby carrier strapped on my front side. She was fussy and honestly, having a toddler directly screaming in your face is enough to make anyone crazy, even though it's your fault because you strapped them in facing you... I will learn some day. 

Anyway, K had skipped a morning nap and was like her Momma and instead of sleeping chose to stare out the window watching people and the city pass her by... needless to say, she was in need of a nap. She was screaming, screaming, screaming and then she "relieved" herself on me and felt much better. Thankfully we can't tell the difference between urine on the front of your shirt and sweat... so we went on our way. I'm running around like I'm on the old game show "Supermarket Sweep" trying to get the items on my mental list with an upset baby and a urine/sweat soaked shirt...

when I ran by the dairy section and saw this discount staring me in the face...

70% off!! For a cream cheese spread!! Yes, green peppercorn?? That might go well with some ritz crackers... let's get it! So in the cart it went, as we sprinted our cart toward the register, where a really nice lady behind me helped me move my stuff from my cart to the register. 

The following day I wanted to crack open the [potentially] delicious green peppercorn cheese spread and eat it with ritz crackers, tomatoes, and cheese slices- an edified toddler lunch for me :) 

I broke the plastic seal off, preparing to have my tastebuds tickled by this new discounted find...

ummm.... oh, noooooooooooooo.

Thoughts tripped through my mind-
Hmmmmm... how BAD is this?
 Really, can I just scrape it off? (this is a sign of how long we've lived here and if you knew how often I said this we may not be friends much longer...)
Can I save any of it?
Will we die if we eat this?? (This may be a relationship deal breaker too...)
Oh, wait... is this what green peppercorn looks like?? I've never seen it before...
No, that's definitely mold...
How much did I *actually* pay for this?  

I was relieved to see I had paid less than $2 and decided the return trip, which takes about an hour, wasn't worth it. After all another "risk" of living here is there are rarely refunds given. Josh was at a hardware store buying screws. He had just handed the worker his money and realized these were the wrong screws. The lady would not return his money or allow him to exchange them, he had to buy new screws. Although we have had two incidences where we were refunded money or allowed to put it towards a different purchase- a generator and a wireless modem. 

Have I learned my lesson? No. I mean, I will most likely buy another dairy product at discounted prices. Although I may crack open every discounted item to see if there is mold in there before I buy it... who knows. 

So be thankful for your grocery stores, people. Seriously, my vacation "relief" or "fix" of western society involves me walking up and down every aisle just looking... I don't even have to buy, just enjoy looking. Seriously, your onions are huge. Apples, berries, avocado... oh my. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

NYE 2014

The fireworks have been going off for the past month. Now, I love fireworks. There is something breathtaking about watching stuff blow up in the sky, creating a beautiful burst of color across the black canvas of night. However, I enjoy fireworks at specific times on specific days. Not random times- 7 AM, 8:30 PM, 3 AM; not random days- Dec. 7, Dec. 27, January 8. Having a baby here during this time of year really changed my attitude about fireworks. I still enjoy them but cringe every time they would pop off after Baby Kate was already in bed.

To "escape" we decided we would go to a friend's house on the Hillcrest hill. We set up Kate's bed there, and if she slept we had planned to stay the night there. She did nap, but there was no real sleep. We ended up packing up all our stuff and heading home around 1:30 or 2 AM. The fireworks were incredible, spanning 180 degrees across the horizon. They started around 7 PM, really ramped up around 11:30 PM-1 AM, before calming down around 2 AM or later.

Local Firework Stands

Local Firework Stand on NYE

Heading Home at 1:30 AM
 **The following photos are what NYE 2014 looked like the next day at our house and in our neighborhood.
Baby Kate slept in our bed due to the ongoing pops and flashes of the fireworks.

I'm fairly certain that only 1/3 of us slept well that night.

And it clearly wasn't me, and since Josh isn't in these shots we know it wasn't him.

The aftermath in our neighborhood

This cement is stained this rust color. I guess we haven't had enough rain yet to clean it up.

Some did make it to the nearest trash container.
We had an interesting NYE. We enjoyed being with friends, but it was crazy trying to hold a toddler who is literally clawing at your shoulders from fear of the loud pops and bangs. I hope she'll appreciate them more as she grows older. Honestly, I believe that more and more fireworks will be shot off during that time. No matter what, it was an incredible thing to see!


Lazy Sunday

My favorite place in all of Sentani would be the school hill from 3-5 PM. It seems like no matter how hot the day has been, between that time the weather and temperature is near perfection. There always seems to be a breeze, although recently we've turned to West Wind Season and there are huge gusts of wind that could knock you off your feet if you're not careful... ok maybe not that big, but they are big.

I would say about once or twice a week, Baby Kate and I will go up to the school after her afternoon nap to play with some sweet friend that live there. We will sometimes play on the playground and other times we just play in a wide open field. I have a renewed love for city parks, because of the lack of open, safe places for kids and families to play in here.

One Sunday we gathered our hammocks and our friends and had a lazy Sunday. Josh and Ben strung the hammocks in a square. Michelle and I played with our babies. Megan joined us. It was wonderful. We chatted about everything and nothing all at the same time. It was an absolutely perfect Sunday afternoon.

Images by Freepik