Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Well first off, Happy New Year!!!!! 2011, wow, who can believe it?!

Changing colour volcano lakes...torquiose turning green at the edges. Its so weird, cause it looks like thick water because the colour is so dense and its so quiet up there, its a very surreal place.

 Woo, tiny road obstruction there! I conquor the boulder and offer peace man!
My Flores house, on Radio Street! On the left is my mango tree (yet to bear fruit) and the mat at my door says "welcome"!

A beautiful view to the south sea from the mountains.

This time of year always makes me excited. I find time for reflection and to consider what the year ahead has in store. It does me good to have this annual landmark, as I find energy in wiping the slate clean and starting again. This year’s first big new thing is cutting down on carbs. Despite being in a poor country the last four and a half months, I have gained weight, which isn’t very good considering I deliberately allowed myself to gain weight before coming, just in case I got ill. So rice and bread will be shrunk in my diet and water added. I’ve certainly not been drinking enough considering how hot it is and the malaria medication I am taking, so its a win-win, replace the bad food with the good water...lets just see how long my will power holds up!
I’m feeling quite positive on my second day back to Flores, and have just done my first healthy shop at the market, fish, veg and fruit. No rice, no bread, no sweets, it’s a good start. I got up early enough to go to the market before work. I was nervous about it as I had forgotten words with being away and the last time I went it was very crowded. I am pleased to say, I am starting to know where to find what and I had a few decent conversations with the ever curious locals who like to crack the mystery of what on earth this white girl doing on their island, in their town! I think they can’t imagine why I would be here, and I have to admit, sometimes when they ask me like that, I question myself!
 I had time to clean up the house and was able to realise I feel quite comfortable in my little house, which was a nice feeling, because I was worried after coming back to it from all the luxury in Australia I wouldn’t like it as much as before, but I like it just as much. The only thing that was different is the water is even dirtier. My friend told me this is because of the heavy rain they have been having, which slides a lot of soil off the hills and into the river. It made me think the water processing facilities are not very good. This is not something I can do anything about, even though I am working in the Government, because the water department sets their own objectives and are a department out with the Bappeda where I work. What Bappeda can do is set them performance indicators on the budget they agree with the Bupati. I think it might be more effective to have my placement at the Bupati, but that’s not where it is.
Through the reflection, and time away I have discovered that the changes I can make here are limited. I am definitely making small changes, but they are within the box. If the Government hasn’t prioritised clean water, I’m not going to change that. What I can change is the measures that monitor performance of the water department, and try to make them focused on number of households with clean water for example, and find stats from other countries to compare standards, so they can see how behind they are in this area. This is the kind of change I can accomplish in this job.
I had a good first day in the office, and was happy to see everyone. I was welcomed with handshakes and wishes of “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year”, which made me chuckle, because we drop the Christmas part at home after December 25th, but its hardly a big deal. My friend Arie came back to my house after work to fix my garden fence that had been blown down by the rain, which is heavy most days as we are fully in the rain season now. It felt good to get things in shape and I cooked dinner for Arie in return. I thought I bought tuna, but on cooking it, Im not so sure. I also thought I bought salad leaves but found out when I tasted it that it was leaves to be cooked, they were really fiery raw.  We ate it then the kids arrived  in time to share the banana and pineapple.  Arie made a dash at the first rumble of thunder to get home before the storm and the kids went at nine like he made them promise.
The next day I was invited to visit a village, Wolojita, where the government were presenting rice farmers with new, motorised cutting equipment. There was a long ceremony and then about 30 of us went into the field to have a blessing of the field and cut a batch of rice each. We used the old method of the hooked, toothed knife to do this and then moved to the next section of rice to try out the motorised bad boy! The farmers seemed impressed with its speed and with no training took it in turns to chomp through the field. One of them had the thing above his head and everything, I was just imagining an accident. It was still a manual tool, much like a grass edge strimmer but with a real disc saw with big teeth. We ate lunch before driving back to Ende, and I enjoyed the view, the peanuts and the chatting.
The next few days were back in the office and I am pleased to have prepared a couple of work plans and got some meetings set up to take projects forward as well as get some good work done. I went home early on Friday, as people seem to be working less crazy hours than the run up to Christmas, and ended up dancing in the rain with the kids, with much hilarity, well, if you can’t beat the rain, enjoy it! I haven’t been able to go jogging because of it and my inability to get up at 05:30am when its not quite light.
I’m glad that without my hard drive full of movies and TV shows, I am still able to keep myself busy in the evenings, and am actually surprised at how much I find to do. Aerobics, yoga and, shh, don’t tell anyone, cross stitch are the big hobbies at the moment.
Here is to great year for all!

Cutting the rice. In black, the Head of the Bappeda where I work, Dr Domi and in the locally woven coloured shirt, the Head of the Agriculture Dept.

One of the farmers with the new rice cutter - it allows them to get the rice cut in waaaay less time!

1 comment:

  1. Happy New Year Gemma!!! Good to hear you are settling in, you'll make some great changes over their, I'm sure of it! Great that you made it over to see the folks at Christmas too, did you have a nice time over the festives?

    Not much news to report from Scotland... had the 20wk scan last week... all fingers and toes present and correct... he/she is a wee hyper bugger, feel it moving all the time. Starting to show now and getting fatter by the day! :)

    Finally got round to updating my blog, have a look if you are in need of a snow fix...

    Lots of love,
    Laura xx