It’s “JoeTime!”

Jump for joy!

Bye bye training, hello “real” (P.C.) life!  I’m now a full-blown volunteer for Uncle Sam. I was ‘sworn in’ last Friday in Malang.  As of today, I’ve been at my “permanent post” for a week and a day, which is shocking.  Things are a liiiittle different here than they were at my previous site.  For starters, and this is a biggie, I can no longer lean on my village mates when I’m feeling the need to do so.  We can still text and call (mercifully, I have better signal here in the boonies than I did in the city), but we all know that nothing quite compares to actual, physical contact.

My lodgings are comfortable, but my new room is about a third the size as my last and

My last morning in Batu…more bitter than sweet; I’ll miss it.

I wasn’t exactly living in the Master Suite before.  It is MUCH hotter here (as I sit at the computer, beads of sweat are already pooling on my forehead and it’s only 4a.m.).  It’s also far more remote and since the P.C. has a strict policy regarding motorcycles, my only other option is to hoof it or ride a bike.  I love walking, but I purchased a bike my second day in town so that I might venture out a little further beyond my Desun (village).  I took said bike out for a spin the day after I got it.  Unfortunately, on my way home from wherever the hell I was, my left pedal flopped onto the asphalt….’good grief, Ahmad Yudha’.  I Jerry-rigged it just enough to make it to the house by hammering it back on with a stone I found aside the road.  I spent the rest of the day eating copious amounts of makanan (food) and falling in and out of consciousness on the sweaty, tile floor in my bedroom.  I ask, does it get any better than this!? *{somehow the pedal found it’s way to the street again on my way to a teacher’s house two days ago)

The place I attempt to sleep

My new host family is sweet, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss my last Keluarga (family), not to mention my real family back in F.L.A.  In addition to being sweet, my new host family is VERY religious and I can’t help but wonder how offensive I must seem to them.  Not that I walk around the house in a thong or anything, but I don’t follow the religious protocol that governs daily life here either.  My lack of language is also a hinderance at the moment, but I think that will come along with time.  In fact, my family has already got me saying some religious phrases in Arabic before and after every meal, which, if you ask me, is kind of a miracle in and of itself.

My workstation

Literally 15-20 feet from my bedroom, there is what is known as a Musola (a smaller Mosque), so I get a heavy dose of prayer five times a day and, pardon the pun, but I ‘swear’ it feels like more.  The party usually kicks off between 3:10 and 3:30am and with the final ‘call to prayer’ ending somewhere around 6 or7 pm, but who’s counting?  At that point I’m too bushed to notice.  It’s not uncommon for me to retire to my room at around 6:30pm to read a bit before I knock out.  In any other time in my life, I’d feel guilty about going to bed so early, but when a bullhorn is blasting the word of Alah outside your bedroom window at 3am every morning , I think it’s forgivable.

My school held a nice reception for me upon my arrival.  I had a necklace made of jasmine flowers placed around my neck.  It was probably the closest I’ll ever get to a woman’s touch in this country, but more on that later.  After receiving the neckless, I was ushered upstairs to give a speech and watch a drum and vocal (chanting of prayers in Arabic) performance.  That too was a pleasant surprise.

Me and Principal Ali…snappy dresser, good man

By the way, the school I will be teaching at is known as a Madrassa, which puts an emphasis on religious education.  Their are many rules at Madrassas in general, particularly for the females, but my school is even more strict on account that it is an Islamic boarding school.  The students that attend my school live in dorms on campus on a full time basis, only coming home for the holidays.  I have already told a handful of people about this, but it’s worth repeating to give you an idea about how serious they take their rules.  On my first day, I was completely taken aback when I went to shake one of my female counterpart’s hand and she reacted as though I were going in for ‘second base.’  She kindly whispered to me why she reacted the way she did later, which I appreciated…male to female contact is positively forbidden.  This latest discovery really puts a damper on my ‘Salsa Dance Club‘ idea.

I don’t want to make it sound bad, because, truth be told, I am very happy with my

One more time for the last time; O3 as a unit

school and everyone I’ve met there thus far.  They seem to be an extremely supportive, fun and caring bunch.  I don’t actually have to go back until July 9th (save for the “expression of gratitude to God party of the 3rd year students” on Saturday and the graduation ceremony Sunday, oh, and then there’s the……), so I have time to do…stuff until then.  You know, important things, like constructing a pull-up bar.  {*A quick side note: I saw what I thought was an ideal place to rig my new pull-up station.  It was up in the rafters in the room where my host family keeps their stockpile of rice.  When I told my host dad about my idea, he started waving his arms frantically and told me, with a furrowed brow, that I’d bring the entire roof down; back to the drawing board and…the mango tree}

Until then…

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4 thoughts on “It’s “JoeTime!”

  1. What an adventure!! Thanks for the good read. I’ll pass this over to Dad. Love and miss you!

    Brenda

    • Brenda, hello! I’m glad you enjoyed it. 🙂 There is plenty more to share. I hope I can get the photos up for you soon. Love and miss you too! Say hello to everyone for me….

  2. What the hell are you thinking, boy? LOL. What a riot. I still can’t believe you’re in the Peace Corps in a Muslim country. Allah must be shaking his head! LOL. I love the story about shaking the girl’s hand. Haha. Wish I could’ve been there for that. I like the bike pedal “F THIS” moment too. LOL. Is that a mosquito net over your bed?

    • YOU can’t believe it? How do you think Ala feels!? Oh man, I’m telling you, there is material here that would have us going for years! And yes, that is a mosquito net over my bed, though the tricky ones still manage to get in and leave a souvenir on my neck.

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