“time to get your tas cuci’ed”

Greetings from the steps of the Peace Corps office in Malang!

I can’t believe it’s barely been a month since I’ve arrived in Indonesia. A big thunderstorm is passing through as I write this and I just came to a realization! Nicole (a fellow trainee) is the rainmaker! Every time she forgets her umbrella at home, afternoon thunderstorms remind us that we’re in a tropical climate. This past week, she’s brought her umbrella and it’s been dry, dry, dry! Yesterday she intentionally “forgot” her umbrella and the rain gods decided that they weren’t going to put up with our tricks, and so I can tell they’re angry now.

Trying to recount the past three weeks since updating this blog feels a little bit overwhelming and so I’ve resorted to a 48-message-long-email thread, so let me know if you’d like to be included!

Every night that I’ve been here, I’ve had dreams that I’m visiting home. I’m never visiting for very long but it still makes me feel strange in the morning. I think that last night was the first time I didn’t dream about going home, however I did go to China instead. Being here is completely different that I had imagined. I hadn’t really imagined much because I didn’t want to go into this having an expectations. Village life is quiet and almost boring if you compare it to life back home. It’s only boring to an outsider though because I don’t know everyone and I’m not invited to peoples homes when they have gatherings. However the other night I went with my Bapak (father) and kakak perempuan (sister) to this prayer-group-music-playing-gathering going on down the street. We sat in no particular order on the carpeted floor of someone’s open garage/barn, playing tambourines and drums, belting out what I assume was prayers in Arabic. It was easy to follow the beat, but I have to say that I felt pretty awkward for a while because I couldn’t join in on the singing and because I was obviously the outsider. The people were very welcoming though, offering me various sweets numerous times, and I’d turn them down “Saya kenyang” or I’m full, because, I WAS!

Depending on the training schedule for the day, I usually wake up around 5am or 6am, take a warm (unusual for Indo, but I’ll take it!)  mandi (shower/bathe), makan pagi (eat breakfast), then read and wait for John, a fellow trainee who lives close by, to arrive and we walk together to class. John’s great, he’s pretty calm and understanding, and we chat about everything and anything that pops in our heads, it’s very soothing. My family is very sweet and lets me do my own thing. My Bapak is a farmer and my Ibu is a housewife, they have 4 older children, who all live in or near our village. Our home is seldom empty or quiet. Their 2 grandchildren are always running around the house, they’re very cute, but drive me crazy sometimes. I know that back in the States, I would talk about how I wanted babies, well being here has def changed my mind, at least for the time being! From another PCV’s blog, apparently being in Indo will make us want to join a convent when we’re done with our service.

I seldom have much free time, but when I do, I like to spend my time reading and writing to friends back home. Studying Bahasa Indonesia takes up a good amount of time, but the language makes a lot of sense and I’m picking it up pretty quickly! Here, I’ll tell you a little bit about myself–Nama saya Elle, saya berasal dari Amerika. Sekarang, saya tinggal di Indonesia. Saya calon relawan Peace Corps. Umur saya 22 (dua puluh dua). Saya tidak sukah makan nasi, saya sukah makan kerupuk. Brain hurts! But yes, things are coming along!

Being here has been really wonderful, I can’t imagine doing anything else right now, but it’s surely been challenging. Up until today, everything I’ve consumed has been agreeing with my intestines. The peanut sauce here is enak sekali (really delicious) but I’m pretty sure the intestines disagree. There are times when I feel on top of the world here where everything is going perfectly–connecting with the host family, eating good meals, picking up the language, perfect weather, spectacular views of the surrounding mountains that throw me into deep thought. Then there are the really crappy days (yesterday was one of them), where I’m homesick, lack an appetite, overall worn out, don’t want to deal with the screaming babies, missing: foods, good beers/wines, boyfriend, Gao Gao, family, goofing off, showing my thighs, my mom’s cooking, privavy, overall independence and control of my own time,  etc etc etc etc. Luckily I know that I’m not going through this alone, we have a great support network and PC team, but I’m terrified of swearing in, moving to my permanent site where other volunteers will be hours away, and of course teaching (with an Indo counterpart)!

Running out of time! More to come, promise!

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