Weeks two and three, as anticipated, seemed to pass a lot faster than the first. Although there really is no “typical” day when you’re living in a foreign land, there are patterns. While I wouldn’t call it smooth just yet, life in Oro Oro Ombo definitely has a rhythm of it’s own and I’m learning to follow the beat. Here is what my days have looked like thus far.
More often than not, I’m up at anywhere from 3:30-4:30am and am treated to a concoction of rooster cock-a-doodle-doos, motorbike mufflers and prerecorded (I think) Islamic prayers broadcast in Arabic from crackling megaphones at unhealthy levels. Lucky for me, each area in the village has it’s own “Masjid” (Mosque) with it’s own set of ghetto blasters, so you get a bit of a mix. Not your image of a sleepy little Indonesian mountain town? Mine neither, but by this point I’ve learned not to expect anything.
After wiping the sleep from my face, I hit the streets for a little fresh air and look for a place to do some exercise or just sit and listen to music. Most recently, my favorite spot has been a soccer field that’s just down the hill from me. If I’m not there, I’m most likely on my family’s front porch skipping rope for a few minutes. (*I wonder what was gong through my host dad’s head when he first caught a glimpse of the pale faced stranger in running shorts whipping a licorice rope around his head in the predawn hours?) In any event, I relish my mornings here. They have become non-negotiable for me, because they are the only time of the day when it’s quite and I am truly on my own.
I’m usually back at the homestead before 6am and then it’s time for the first of two daily “mandi(s),” or, as I like to refer to them, shock therapy. I really have to work myself up for these, because, unless I’m engulfed in flames, I prefer a lot more temperate water to bath in; it’s FREEZING! Everyone has their own technique for taking a mandi, but personally, approach it like I’m going into battle. I’ll wet the floor down first, just to get some balance, but after that, I throw the rules out the Plexiglas window! I’ll forcefully chuck the cold buckets of water all over myself, usually starting with my face. (*Incidentally, this technique recently resulted in a blow to the forehead) I’ll then soap up, shave if needed, and then, just as forcefully as the soak, rinse myself off. There is no time for rubber ducky play during morning mandi. Want to close your eyes and think about the possibilities that lay ahead? Tough! Mandi(s) are all business, all the time.
One more note on mandi(s). As much as I try, I am still wildly inefficient with mine. I had to laugh when I read my friend’s blog about her own experiences in this pastime. She wrote that her family is in and out of the mandi in three minutes, tops. I can confirm that fact, about my own family, not hers. To give you a little perspective, it takes me the same amount of time to take my britches off without getting them soaked on the bathroom floor (not as simple as it sounds).
After my mandi and a little breakfast (rice with some fried sides), it’s off to “school,” which doubles as the village government office, or maybe it’s the other way around? Anyway, there are seven of us recruits in total, add one more for the teacher, in a, let’s call it cozy, room. We have a nice big window that you can crack open at least 2.5 inches, so you don’t get much of a breeze. The view however, is pleasant. (*Thanks to Maurice, we just got a fan in class it has changed everything!) We study Bahasa Indonesian in that room from 8am-3:30pm, Monday-Friday. From 3:30pm until around 5pm we have a another session with our cultural facilitator, which varies from day to day.
We have strict orders to be back home by 7pm. Apparently, it’s taboo to be walking around at nite, especially for a woman, so the P.C. doesn’t budge on this one. Once I’m back home it’s mandi time once more, followed by “makan malam” (dinner….more rice, more oil) and ALWAYS in that order, except for the nite I rocked the boat and reversed it all; pure chaos.
That’s pretty much it. I’ll put in a little face time with the family while I eat dinner and then hit the sack by 8 or so. I know that sounds a tad extreme, but by that time of the evening, I usually have had enough. My days are long, full and mostly enjoyable, so I can’t complain. Plenty of other events/activities are squeezed into my schedule, but I’ll elaborate some other time.