Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Idul Fitri | Salatiga | Indonesia

The last two days, we've been observing the traditions in celebration of the end of Ramadaan, the fasting month. Last night, we went to the town square to watch a parade. Each of the neighborhood mosques made a float of their mosque and were judged. 

Think 4th of July + New Years Eve + Super Bowl Halftime, all rolled into one. I woke up pretty much every hour, despite my iPod and sleeping pill. The same guy was praying the entire night, from our neighborhood mosque. That's some serious devotion.

This morning, we got up at 5:30 am to walk to the town square, again, to see the morning prayer. It was an incredible sight:

People as far as you could see, in every direction.

See the women? Probably not. They are behind the men, behind a rope, at the back of the field.

It was definitely an eye-opening experience, to see the devotion of that many people, all gathered in one place together.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Taman Safari | Bogor | Indonesia

As we have a week off from school for Idul Fitri, several of us hopped out of bed at 3 am and jumped on a plane to Jakarta. Out of our list of activities to do while we are here, we decided to rent a car and drive to Teman Safari. We got to drive through and see everything from elephants to alligators to hippos. At one point on our drive, I had a bit of deja vu as we approached a stone archway and mechanical gate (Jurrasic Park anyone?). A variety of signs warned us to stay inside our vehicle and keep the windows up, if we didn't want to get eaten by tigers and/or lions. We got up close and personal with some pretty ferocious creatures. At the end of our tour, after checking out some monkeys and giraffes, we had a photo op. I got to high-five a lion and cuddle an orangutan. Awesome? Check.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Scoopy | Salatiga | Indonesia

I got home from school today and my Scoopy was in the garage. Isn't it the cutest?!

This is Pak Nosh. He is my Indonesian tutor from school and we went bike shopping on Saturday. It took a few stores for us to find this particular bike but we did some wandering and finally found it! We went back yesterday to make the actual purchase and arranged for it's delivery today.

Unfortunately, I couldn't even get it started once I wrestled it out of the garage. And alas, the owner's manual was entirely in Indonesian. Suprising, right? The whole time, I had a very entertained audience viewing (and laughing) from the porch next door as I kept turning the key and nothing happened.
Pak Nosh came to the rescue and of course had it turned on as soon as he entered the gate. You have to turn the key, pull the left brake and push a button all at the same time. The diagram in the book didn't quite get that point across.

So after I was feeling like a complete idiot, I took her for a spin around the neighborhood :) I only drove on the wrong side of the road once and managed to avoid the abundance of critters that call our neighborhood home. I did end up driving through a soccer game, which all of the players found quite entertaining. After I got my balance, I was feeling adventurous and drove up to school without getting run over  (or running over anyone else)! I have missed my Jeep dearly and I am so excited to finally be driving again :)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Telomoyo | Indonesia

Saturday morning, a group of us met at school to drive to a mountain called Telemoyo. I've been missing my Jeep, so it was really nice to be able to drive out of town for the day! The road up was just a bit bumpy, but we all managed to make it up alright. Here are a few pictures:

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Critters | Salatiga | Indonesia

Happy Indonesian Independence Day!
(No School!!!)

So I was going to do a tour of our house/ neighborhood on the blog today, but that can wait. Something far more interesting happened this morning.

I was drying my hair in our extra bedroom, as usual. After I finished, I needed to get something out of my suitcases that were stacked against the wall, so I moved them. I expected to find a bag of corn starch but instead, I found this lovely creature, staring at me:

Long story short, I screamed bloody murder (really, it was a scream worthy of a horror movie). Kriston, my roomate who is much braver than myself, came in to check out the situation and we decided to take action (I mean, who wants to wake up in the morning with that thing staring at you?!)

We tried to scare it so we could trap it and let Ibu Wasti dispose of it tomorrow, but he was a fast little guy! He ran across the room and hid behind the wardrobe. 
Can you spot him?

We're not quite sure where he is now, so for the time being, we opened the window for an exit route and  locked the door. We called for some reinforcement just to make sure that he wasn't dangerous. Apparently, they're not poisonous but you don't want to get bitten by one because they lock their jaws and you can't get them off of you...yikes! 

On a more pleasant note, I finally got the packages that were mailed from home right after I got here. So glad to finally have authentic Sharpies and working Expo markers (as well as a lifetime supply of Cliff Bars)! Thanks mom!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Singapore | Singapore

As many of you know, I had to travel to Singapore recently to obtain my official work visa; here's how that went down. Right after I got off the plane, I had to rush across town to meet a guy named Wahab who was sitting outside of McDonalds. I handed him $230 and my passport. I returned at 4:30 and my passport had a visa. Sketchy? Without a doubt. Effective? Most definitely.

While my passport was off getting special treatment, I was escorted to a local strand of food stands and introduced to authentic Singaporian fare. Now, if you know me well, you know that although I travel often, I am a rather picky eater. But in this particular instance, I sucked it up and ate roasted pork and rice from the above eatery. Yes, I'm branching out. 

On Friday, visa in hand, I decided to do the cultural thing and visit the Asian Civilizations Museum. It was a pretty cool place and I learned quite a bit about Indonesia. Unfortunately, it was a rather small museum and I was finished exploring an hour into my 2.5 hours of alotted time.

So I decided to go on a bit of a hike. Singapore is quite possibly the hottest place I have ever visited and being an island, it has about 1,000,000% humidity. By the time I found the cool little path below, I was most definitely looking like a tomato.

On my little excursion of the greater Singapore area, I found The Coffee Bean, where I happily replenished my depleted stock of coffee grounds in Indonesia. Apparently despite the fact that Indonesia is a major coffee producer, they export all the good stuff and everyone here drinks....instant. Ick. Real coffee beans are difficult to come by.

I met the Graham family (my hosts) at the Japanese mall for lunch. Despite the temptation of authentic Dim Sum, I opted for the more rare, Subway sandwich. Yum.

I passed the rest of the afternoon shopping in the Orchard area. Heaven. Not only were my favorite American stores there, I also got to visit some of my European favorites. Unfortunately, everything is marked up to ridiculous prices (dresses at Forever 21 STARTED at about 40 USD and books at Borders were around 30 USD for a paperback) but that didn't stop me from doing some damage.

Singapore was a great holiday. 
I got to see some new things, eat some new things, and shop for some old favorites. I found Jiff Extra Crunchy peanut butter and Dr. Pepper! And, I even got to make some new friends :) It's the little things that make life so great.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

School | MICS Class of 2019

Sorry about the delay in uploading pics from the first day of school! I handed over my memory card to superwoman Hesti, our secretary, to have pictures printed...and I forgot to dump the pictures first. A couple of my kids were a little camera shy, but I told them not to worry because they were going to get used to having their picture taken :)

Yes, I'm a nerd but I took a picture on the first day of school!
I got to school at 7:10 Tuesday morning and...suprise! Half of the class was already there! (We start at 7:40). We began the school year with chapel. We sang several songs that took me back to my Pine Cove days and one song that I had never heard in English but knew by heart in Portuguese :) After an introduction from our new superintendent we went over some very boring procedures and rules for a couple of hours. Then we had a snowball fight!

The kids each wrote three things about themselves on a white sheet of paper, wadded it up and had a "snowball fight" for a few minutes. Then they picked up a random "snowball" and introduced another much fun! They had specials, which means I got a break for three hours, and we finished up the day with decorative nametags. These kids are a lively bunch, it's going to be a great year!

Currently, I am in Singapore (a.k.a. heaven). After waking up at 3:30 this morning, I dropped off my passport and $230 with a strange man at a McDonalds. I went back at 4:30 today and my passport had an Indonesian work visa. Crazy? I think so.

Oh, how I have missed hi-speed internet, air conditioning and Starbucks. More on Singapore tomorrow! But for now, I have a lovely steak dinner and rooftop sunset with my name on it :)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Selamat Datang di Indonesia!

After flying from Montes Claros to Belo Horizonte to Miami to Dallas to San Francisco to Hong Kong to Singapore to Solo City in a period of 3 days, I finally arrived in Indonesia. Much to my suprise, my final flight was filled with Parisians headed to Bali on holiday so I got to use my French skills :)
Several of the single teachers from the school were waiting to welcome me when I got through customs and it was so nice to see smiling faces. I survived my first jaunt on an Indonesian road. In this country, stoplights are more of a suggestion, traffic drives on the left, and there are no lanes marked on the road, which means a lot of weaving. Most people drive motorcycles and it is not uncommon to see an entire family of five (or even six) people all on one bike together. I arrived at my house:
My pembantu (helper) was waiting for me, with a hot lunch already prepared. Her name is Ibu Wasti and she cooks, cleans, launders, shops and brings lunch to school. She is awesome.

Rice, meetings, cockroaches. Those three things have been a staple of life since arriving here. Each deserves a more detailed tale but for now, I must summarize the Roman Empire for an upcoming social studies unit.