Walking back into my pre-IST life after living like a spoiled brat for the past two weeks felt like getting kicked between the legs. The first image I was treated to upon entering my home was that of my roommate sprawled out on the tile like a sweaty starfish, snoring the afternoon away with some other random dude I’ve never seen before. The kitchen was upside down, as per usual…food and dirty plates littered throughout, and when I stepped into my bed/everything room, it felt much smaller, dirtier and duller than I remembered; welcome home! Despite all this, I’m feeling pretty good right now, if not a little fatigued.
‘Primo‘ and I kicked the festivities off right two Sundays ago when we arrived at the hotel in Surabaya. Since we were the first ones on the scene and since we had no responsibilities to contend with, we lounged in and around the pool all morning. Later that afternoon, with my skin pruned beyond recognition, I walked back to room 333 with a newfound joy and a terrific sunburn that forbade (daytime) swimming for the next two weeks.
A lot of the volunteers must have felt pretty pent up, because that first nite was pure mayhem! I won’t name names, but watching a few people let their hair down was the inspiration for the rebel ‘Whoo!’ yell that permeated the hotel grounds right up til the solemn end (you had to be there). It was all a bit much for me, but it was great to see everyone so happy and enjoying themselves. That first nite pretty much set the tone for the rest, though I didn’t partake in many of them, because I’m still in the habit of waking up at a stupid hour here and burning the candle at both ends just doesn’t hold the same appeal it once did.
One of the highlights of week one IST was getting my teeth cleaned…until I was given the bill, at which point it became one of the lowlights of week one IST. Still, for a nite at least, I was feeling pretty fresh mouthed and I vowed to never drink coffee again, but forgot about my vow the next morning and drank two cups as soon as my feet hit the bedroom floor.
Speaking of coffee, a lot of the volunteers were OD’ing on it in order to power through our training/information sessions. Some of the topics were very informative, others not so much. One moment that stands out for me was our language training session. I was sitting in the hotel conference room for a good five minutes and was starting to sweat a little, even though the AC was roaring full stop. Surly, after six months of living in an Indonesian village I should be able to answer ‘how are you!?‘ in the local tongue? I was both relieved and slightly embarrassed then when I found out that I was sitting in a javanese class, which not the same as bahasa indonesian, which explains a lot.
Most mornings I was able to pry myself out of my comfy room and head out to the empty tennis court with B. Minty and do a couple of skip rope and do a couple of pushups, followed by a little pool time. All of this was before breakfast, which is a great way to start the day, unless of course that day was preceded by a great nite. I did the math in my cloudy head and decided I was getting about 4.5 hours of sleep a day. Was it sehat (healthy)?, probably not, but what it was, was what I got.
There are a number of other memorable moments during IST:
-Mexican food at ‘Desperado’s.’ The fajitas were were savory and I got the quote of the nite straight from a Scotsman’s vodka stained mouth. I was sitting on one side of the bar and all of the other volunteers were on the other when this older gentlemen leans my way and asks me, “are you in charge of these kids?”
-A rooftop bar for Alex A’s birthday after an expensive, but tasty Italian dinner. For about ten minutes, I felt as though I could party all nite long…for ten minutes.
-Late nite pool sessions were always enjoyable. One time was especially relaxing and afterward I couldn’t help but lament that there hadn’t been more just like it. It was during this particular dip that my friend and I spotted a luwak (civit cat) scurrying across the tennis court fence. For those out of the loop, the elusive luwak is responsible for the even more elusive (not to mention expensive), ‘cat shit coffee.’
-The weirdo, semi-impromptu, poolside Halloween party (thank you for getting that going, Melanie!). It was here that another friend ‘killed my game,’ lol (I literally laughed out loud when she apologized for it).
-Saw three movies at a theater near our hotel, three of which were duds, but I enjoyed the experience nonetheless. The ‘Premium‘ screening must be lived to be fully appreciated. I’ve only fallen asleep twice at a movie theater in my life and the first time was due to horrible jet lag, the second was due to ‘Premium’ seating.
-Found a football (the American kind) at the mall and fully intend to use it on the villagers.
-Ate some delicious Indian, Italian, American and Japanese food, but not all at once.
-Played tennis a couple of times and lost four tennis balls on loan from the hotel. I still stand by my statement that it was their fault for not having that court net in fighting shape.
-Had a great time playing in the PC badminton tournament with my partner, R. Vertino, despite being eliminated in the second round.
-Came up with a couple of new, golden nicknames.
-Got punk’d by Ellen C. and Kayla C. *I plan on spending the next 9 months plotting my revenge.
-Got to talk with a lot of people I hadn’t had a chance to during PST.
-The laughs came from every possible angle imaginable…they were unrelenting!
Yes indeed, IST provided some priceless moments that I will not soon forget. And though I’m pretty sure I already know the answer, I hope ya’ll had as much fun as I did. I’m looking forward to the next gathering!