September 13, 2015

A few things I love about Indonesia

So we've been back in Papua for three weeks, and I know this to be true: if my relationship status with America is complicated, then my relationship with Indonesia, our adopted home, is equally so.

It's so easy when we're back in the U.S. for the stressors of overseas living to fade in to the background.  I watch our MAF video, all these awesome photos and video clips set to music  and I think of what a cool life we get to live, the exotic places we see, and the people we are with(what is it about videos set to music? I could be watching a video of someone cleaning a toilet, and you throw in a little Fernando Ortega and I'm weeping and ready to write someone a check). Then I get back to Papua and I'm all "What about the video? Where's the soundtrack? Why do I feel like I'm just living in the outtakes? Why does this not feel adventurous and exotic, but instead scary and stressful and frustrating?"

We arrived and jumped right back into life - school and crazy driving and visits to the immigration office and cooking.  Oh, the cooking.  Did I really cook this much before? Was the neighborhood really this noisy before? Our parents' homes, situated on woodsy acres, seem like veritable sound vacuums compared to the crazy cacophony that is life on Pos 7. 

And David had to turn around a week after we arrived and make the trek back to the U.S. for meetings.  So we're doing the separation thing again.
It's easy for me to spiral into negativity, shaking my fist at all the frustrations and yearning for the "easy" life I just left in America. But I know I need to hold on to the good.
To that end, the remainder of this post is dedicated to just a few of the many things I love about living in Indonesia.   

1. This octopus thingy we use to hang up laundry.  And hanging up laundry.  It's my favorite chore here. 
2. Better brooms and scoops.  Can you even buy a scoop like this in the U.S.?  It's the best.
3. Pineapples - they're in season now and we're averaging two pineapples a day from our plants out back.  Here's a recipe for a delicious smoothie we made the other day: 2 cups frozen pineapple, 2 cups frozen bananas, 1 small carton of santan (cream of coconut).  Blend it up.  It's about as good as a Dole whip from Disney (sigh - which we were eating about a month ago).
4. Bungkus.  Chicken, rice, and some veggies, wrapped up in in a paper bundle, for about $1.50.  We love it.
Photo credit: Grace H.

Photo credit: Grace H.
5. Rain.  It didn't rain nearly enough for me this summer in the U.S.  The day we arrived in Sentani it poured that night, a wonderful welcome back.
6. A more laid-back schedule.  I know this is possible in America, but someone tell me how???  It seems easier for us to do this in Indonesia.  
7. Flip flops year-round.
8. Beautiful places.  We went with some friends on a walk last weekend and had gorgeous views of the more uninhabited side of Lake Sentani. It looked like a tropical version of Middle Earth.
Photo credit: Grace H.
9. The pasar. In America, I could go in Walmart and, thanks to self checkout, not have to interact with a single soul.  I guess that's okay some of the time, but what I enjoy about the pasar is interacting with the local people. There's this one lady in particular who calls me "sayang" (honey) whenever she sees me, like I'm her long-lost younger sister.   Sure, it's more work going to the pasar than buying pre-washed salad and hermetically-sealed packs of chicken from Kroger, but there's a challenge to the pasar that I enjoy - navigating the stalls, never being quite sure about what I might find, and supporting the local sellers.
10.Beautiful people, like this young lady, Y, a girl from an interior village going to school here in Sentani.  She and another of her classmates spent Saturday with us, which included a trip to swim in the lake.
Those are just a few of many good things about living here.  What about you? What do you enjoy about where you live?