Disclaimer: Please excuse any strange grammatical structures and awkward run-on’s for my body is still trying to grasp what day and time it is.
After waiting over one year and four months, more than 24 hours and thousands miles of travel, we finally arrived in Surabaya, Indonesia. Surabaya, which literally means ‘fish’ and ‘alligator’, is the capital of the Province of East Java. Please excuse any strange grammatical structures and awkward run-on’s for my body is still trying to grasp what day and time it is. The ride from Hong Kong to Surabaya was extremely bumpy and there were a few times when I woke up thinking I was going to die, luckily this wasn’t the case. Having a cup of Cabernet Sauvignon (probably my last for a while) during the flight probably wasn’t the best idea either. When we arrived at the airport in Surabaya, I immediately rushed to the restroom, where I encountered a western style toilet accompanied by a hose…something I wasn’t quite ready for, luckily I was equipped with a napkin that I had wrapped my bread from the flight in. I can’t remember the last time I’d been as nervous as I was when we first arrived. I couldn’t recognize any bits or pieces from surrounding peoples conversations. Once we got passed immigration, my nerves began to dissipate as we were enthusiastically greeted by the friendly smiles and warm handshakes of the Peace Corps Indonesia team. The group gathered by a Dunkin Doughnuts as we waited for our bus in the thick humidity that is comparable to some of the hottest summer nights in Richmond. A cute lizard joined us as we had a quick orientation to the new training staff that would be working with us throughout our duration in Indonesia. The staff couldn’t have been more friendly and more welcoming.
My roommate and I were awoken around 4am by the call to prayer that echoed throughout the city–something that I will surely need to get used to sleeping through. The hotel breakfast was surprisingly delicious, I had several pieces of tempeh and some green beans. We promptly dove into our first full day as Peace Corps Trainees (PCTs) where we were introduced to health, safety, security, and language. I know everyone’s expecting photos but I won’t be posting those for another week or so (haven’t had much of a chance to leave the hotel!). As we learned more and more about how to stay healthy in Indonesia, I grew frightened of my own body as I felt it was a ticking time-bomb for illness and disease–luckily some of this will be remedied by the 3 shots I received this afternoon! When I get a chance, I will post a very lovely ‘how to’ diagram of how to use a squatty potty…which is not exactly what you may be thinking. We received our village placements for the next 10 weeks of training–I will be living in a small village located in Batu-Malang. Malang is known for its beautiful flowers and tolerable climate. On Sunday, we will meet and settle in with our host families! I am pretty nervous, but very excited at the same time. From there, we will jump right into our intense Peace Corps training curriculum. More details to come when I’m less jetlagged! Thus far, I am very happy to be here! It’s definitely going to take some time to get accustomed to many of the cultural norms. Much love to everyone back home, I miss you all!