Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Two Stepping

So this past weekend was entertaining. A group of youth from a religious community about two hours away from Nurobo (my community) came to spend the weekend at our community parish. There was a soccer game on Saturday and a volleyball game on Sunday. There was live music provided by our awesome Canossian Guys' Band. They played many Indonesian tunes. I was asked to sing as I usually am asked to and I responded excitedly with the same response I always give "Ok!...No." They did just fine without my glorious voice, however, so it was no big deal.

I also learned to two step this weekend. Saturday night I got many invitations to dance and I refused many people saying "Saya tidak bisa" or "Saya tidak tahu," meaning "I can't" and "I don't know how." I felt really bad about rejecting these guys so when the opportunity to learn the next day came I took it. Well really the moment was forced upon me. Mary had danced with the sweet young guy who works for the priests the night before and she said he was a good dancer and a good leader and that if I wanted to learn I should ask him. Well Mary and I were at the Pastoral House when Mary came across this young man and she asked him to teach me how to dance. He accepted. I accepted being taught. I felt really embarrassed, however, because I really can't do partner dancing but he was kind and patient and by the time we were through dancing several times I actually think I got better and by better I mean I was no longer really bad just bad.

By the way, guess what? The Italians are coming, the Italians are coming...and one American. Our volunteer counterparts on the other side of the island are coming to visit us. I think they'll be in for a surprise when they realize how much less we have here compared to what they're used to. For example, we do not have canned tomato sauce like they do, we also do not have mozarella cheese like they do so this means no pizza. I wish we had these ingredients because, Francesca, one of the Italian volunteers made some awesome pizza when we visited her in Dili a few weeks ago. Okay well my ride is here so I gotta go.

Oh btw, got rid of the mouse. It took three men to chase out one little mouse. I helped, though, by screaming and climbing on a chair and basically staying out of the way.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Indonesian Toilets and Door Climbing

I have a problem with Indonesian toilets in that they're squatting toilets. Using squatting toilets is no problem for Indonesians because they can squat flat footed on the ground quite comfortably but I am not at all accustomed to this. I cannot, for the life of me, squat flat footed so using squatting toilets can present a bit of a challenge. Luckily for me, the volunteer house, where I live has regular western toilets. This is fantastic when I am near home but when I am not I find myself "holding it" until I get home. Sometimes I have to give in and use a squat toilet but it is not at all pleasant. The bathroom itself is usually always wet because people use water to cleanse themselves and not toilet paper so water is splashed all over the restroom. Every time I enter an Indonesian restroom I have to roll up my pants. While in the restroom I worry about losing my balance and falling which, thankfully, has yet to happen. This whole restroom thing takes some getting used to, it can be quite stressful and I'm afraid I will never get used to it as I simply try to avoid these toilets as much as possible. Its something to tell the someone's grandkids about I suppose.

Oh something funny to tell you about. I was teaching at the middle school last week when I needed to erase something from the chalkboard. I noticed there was no eraser and I asked the children where the eraser was and they said "di atas" which means "up top." I took this to mean that it was on top of the small hill in the school office where school items are sometimes kept. I asked one of the children to get it. Another child got up to join him and I was about to ask why two people needed to get me an eraser when the Martin, the second boy, stood holding the classroom door open, while the first boy, Roni, got ready to climb up the door to an open ceiling board above the door. Apparently when the kids said "di atas" they meant the eraser was up in the ceiling and not in the office like I had thought. I was going to stop Roni when he started climbing up the door. I let him continue, however (I needed that eraser), and just contented myself with saying "Don't die, Roni." As Roni climbed this door I thought to myself, "This would never happen in the States." Roni did not die and he came down quite calmly and gracefully. He and many children like him here are quite agile. I was not too worried about him because of this but if an American kid tried the same thing I think I would freak. Okay well that's it for today. Until next time.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Just want to apologize for not letting you people know I was still alive. Yes, Indonesia had an earthquake but no, it didn't affect our island. I am still alive and I was blissfully unaware of anything significant going on in Indonesia until I saw my Facebook full of concerned messages. Thank you for your concern. Its nice to know people care about me.

Now onto updates. I was away last week on the east part of the island in another country called Timor L'este. Timor island is funny cuz half of it is in Indonesia and the other half is a small country. Timor L'este has had a history of turmoil and as I understand it it was occupied by the Portuguese for several hundred years until sometime in the 1970s and when Indonesia began occupying it. The East Timorese wanted to be independent, however, and this desire to be separate from Indonesia ended in a bloody conflict in 1999. Timor L'este (or East Timor) has been independent ever since but it has needed aid and support from many international organizations including the UN. I had to leave Indonesia for visa purposes as I have to do every six months and since TL is the closest country to me I went there. There are also several Canossian communities there (the order of Sisters whom I work with).

I met other volunteers with my program, VOICA, in TL, however. I met two Italians, Francesca and Gionata, and one American from Iowa, Trisha. They're amazing people. I had a wonderful time and for a short while I actually had a social life. I actually got to attend Mass in English! It was fantastic and the priest who presided over all the English Holy Week Masses, Fr. Angel, is amazing. He's from Spain and he's Claretian and, therefore, very funny and fun.

While in TL I met many people from all over the world, due to the many international aid organizations there. I met Spanish people, Australians, Congolese, Brazilians, Portuguese. I enjoyed it very much because of this. I love meeting people from different places.

Dili the city where I stayed is on the northern coast of the island and I spent a few afternoons on the beaches of Dili. It was amazing. The water was kind of warm which was not to my liking because I am used to California cold ocean water but the beach and the view was amazing. I took pics which I wish could post. Someday I will, however.

On Good Friday, I spent the morning doing the Way of the Cross up a hillside. It was a little difficult hike because of the terrain and the heat and humidity but not so bad considering there were thousands of people and we were going at a slow pace. The view of the city from there was incredible also. I liked that I was able to remember Christ's sacrifice in this manner. It was amazing. I liked that no matter where people were standing, on dirt, leaves, or jagged rocks they still all knelt at each station. It was a good way to spend Good Friday.

Easter Sunday was spent at Mass then with the Canossian sisters at two communities in Dili for lunch and dinner. It was nice. I enjoyed my time there. I was sorry, however, that I could not spend Holy Week with my community of Nurobo. I wanted to be there with the people but it was unfortunate that I needed to exit Indonesia the weekend right before Holy Week.

Okay I have to get going now so I will conclude quickly with letting you know that Mary and I have a horrible mouse in our house. I am thoroughly disgusted at the thought. Also while I was gone some birds broke through a rusted screen in the window of my room and built a nest on my desk. I also sat on gum the other day and got it all over my good black slacks. Oh well that's life...in Indonesia anyway. Miss you guys. Until next time. (Apologies for any errors on this blog, I have no time to edit.)