Tuesday, 22 February 2011

A lovely day...

A few days ago I got home from work and felt really happy since the sky was blue and the sun was out. We have been going through rainy season in Ende where it is usually cloudy, although bright and ever humid.
I decided to take a walk to see the coconut juice man and enjoy a glass of my favourite thirst quencher. As I walked along my street, Radio Street, a neighbour I didn’t meet before stopped me to say hi. It turns out we had actually spoken in the supermarket the week before when I was cooing over his cute little baby! So that was cool, a new neighbour friend.
I continued on my walk down the hill, round the corner and along the street to the little coconut cart, just opposite the gravel football pitch. They open a young coconut with a small machete, pour the juice into a big plastic container, then half the coconut and use a beer bottle-top nailed to a piece of wood to scrape out the coconut flesh and throw that in with the liquid. In your glass you get ice, coconut, a little sugar water, a drop of condensed milk and a squeeze of lime, it is a delight!
On the football pitch, there was a game on which I was not expecting, but was pleased about since it gave me a reason to linger a little longer and enjoy the sun. I had a chat with the coconut man and told him I am going to Lombok island soon, which is where he is from, and he was very proud to think I would visit his home island, and I in turn felt happy for making him smile.
And then a friend from the office walked over and said he spotted me from the crowd. So we went over to watch the second half together. On the way, we bumped into another workmate and his girlfriend so stopped to say hello to them. We sat behind the away goals, in the shade of the park trees behind it and Willie tried to update me with the first half action. A voice from behind interrupted us and as I turned round I saw the friendly face of the policeman from the airport. Since I am there a lot we have spoken a little so it was very funny to see him out of work. He knew Willie too, who told him to come and join us.
In this moment, I felt really happy. I felt very settled in the town of Ende, and liked the homely feeling of bumping into people I know. Despite my minimal language ability and different lifestyle, I’ve turned a corner in Ende, with people getting used to me being there and starting to like it.

So I enjoyed the rest of the game with a smile on my face, not really watching it, but taking in everything that was around me – the mountains, the food stands, conversations with my friends, the people watching the game wearing their helmets, the group of policemen watching in their uniforms, the sea and the boats out fishing, aside from the litter, it is a pretty place.
The man standing with the mustard top is my workmate, Heri. He initiated this university league 3 years ago and now it is a highly anticipated competitive cup!

 Jogya, who made it to the final but were knocked out on penalties. This is the team I supported since my friend Arie went there, and Willie played for them as captian.
Enjoying local fruit and the game with Sebastian and Helima.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Little miss scatterbrain!

For those of you who know me well, you will know that I can be a tad forgetful. Well, Ive been going through a spate of this recently. A few days ago I left my purse at home but needed it for my lunch. I nipped out of the office to bike home for it quickly only to get to my house and realise I left my house keys at my desk - a double whammy! Luckily my neighbour has a spare key since she is also my landlord so I didn’t have to have the embarrassment of going back to the office unsuccessful.
So, when i packed the next day to go to Maumere, I spent some time looking at my rucksack and figuring out what needed to go in there. Sleeping clothes, toothbrush, always need a toothbrush, I will put the toothpaste on top of the bag so that in the morning I wont forget that it has to go in the bag, same for the malaria tablets....what else, oh yeah, blanket to protect me from the mosquitos Theresa warned me about. Haha, if Ive remembered something so luxury and smart as that then I am laughing. So, I felt good when Arie arrived to take me to the travel stand.
It wasn’t until one hour into the four hour journey when we stopped at the market to buy snacks and I opened my bag for my purse I realised noooooooo! What did I forget, what was the other thing I brought with me to the internet cafe the day before to book flights....only my passport!!!!! The very thing I had to deliver to the immigration office, and take the trip for was the thing I ended up forgetting!

So in a panic, I told the driver, who found it all very amusing. He stopped a bus heading back to ende and after taking full payment, sent me back home. So, take two and l got back on the road a few hours later, and made my way along the now familiar road. I had the front seat this time, in the people carrier but it wasn’t much of a benefit since the driver had mirrors and cuddly toys stuck to the windscreen blocking the view and the seat was so far forward I was sitting leaning forwards not back. I didn’t dare to adjust it though, since behind me was a women with a baby, next to a young girl and a tiny grandmother. Behind them were another three people. A while into the journey we stopped to pick up someone else and this meant that the drivers helper (I think he put peoples bags on the roof), had to come and share the front seat with me! So there we were, a can of sardines travelling far too fast through the Flores mountains on the windy road from South to North. I have to say I was relieved to arrive in Maumere!

Theresa, a fellow volunteer, met me at the stop, and we went to her house so I could dump my bag and have a cup of tea and relax after the journey. She knew the man from the immigration office so she called him round and  I was able to give him my passport. Theresa was able to help me ask about how and when I will get it back which was a relief because a passport is not something you want to give out without certainty of its return!

I had a lovely time exploring Maumere with friends who know it well, meeting some new people and seeing others I hadn’t seen for a long time. It is a nice feeling to come to a new place and have lots of people to visit! The two days flew in before I had to make the journey home, in which i met more friends one of who owns a warung which I visted last night and met the rest of Elizabeth’s family and enjoyed a very tasty cap cay (vegetables in a stock with fried egg, which I gave to my friend!)

Out and about in Indonesia

Recently, I was in Makassar, a 5 million people strong city, mainly muslim, with a huge mix of rich, poor, local and other Indonesians all on top of each other on the island of Sulawesi. Its a very dense city, with rubbly shacks next to huge shopping malls! Its a coastal city, with a big active port from what I could see with a lot of cargo ships.  
I was there for another VSO workshop, with four other Government placed volunteers. Each volunteer was invited to bring two facilitators (people who’s job it is to get the views of the villagers and communicate them to the Government) from our regions and a co-worker from our office. The material was aimed at equipping them to represent the village further up the government chain than they usually manage to do today. It was run by a local NGO, which I thought was good because it meant the facilitators could relate to them and it showed VSO trust the ideas and thinking available locally.
I was really happy with the opportunity to catch up with volunteers on the Sulawesi island and was surprised at how different their social life was to mine in Ende. They were living city life, with Heinz baked beans in the supermarket, posh coffee houses and a MacDonald’s to fend off western food cravings we all have suffer from. In Ende, you will more likely finding me eating bbq’d sweetcorn sitting on the ground, in the dark with a circle of friends and a gas lantern or at the seafront market jumping over the fish water puddles trying to buy my fish and vegetables. It was great to experience the difference and really nice to see the sense of community between volunteers there.
I had a very fun experience while in Makassar, when I got to drive a baycek (pronounced bay check). These are bicycle taxis, not unlike the ones you can find in Edinburgh or India, with a 2 person seat at the front and a pedalist behind steering the three wheeled contraption. I was so excited when I was allowed to harness the hot seat and steer us shakily down a quiet street, I filled the street with laughter and us, with my zig zag driving! It was after 2 in the morning when we took the ride, and the streets of Makassar where serene and empty, allowing me to really see the city and its architecture away from the usual distractions of traffic chaos.
From Makassar I went straight to Bali for my first VIWG duties. We had a meeting with the VSO office and then organised the itinerary for new volunteers. It gave me time to get to know fellow volunteer Pete better and see returned volunteers Anouk and Mark again so it felt a bit like a holiday having spare time with friends and the Bali sunshine.  
We went to some places I spend a lot of time when I was new and studying language and I met some of the waiters that I used to talk to. This was really nice as they all mentioned with surprise at how good my Indonesian had gotten. They seemed genuinely impressed that I was able to hold a decent (chit-chat) conversation with them in their language, and I was genuinely pleased with myself for the first time being able to see a marked improvement in my language. I still say I am in the bottom quota of ability in comparison to the other volunteers, but in terms of personal achievement, its a big one!
It was great to meet the new volunteers, and see the excitement, enthusiasm, wonder and intrigue on their faces as they asked a million questions and tried to take in the huge change their life was about to take. We didn’t get very long with them though since their flights were delayed due to visa hold ups but I hope I represented volunteers well and gave them a friendly welcome!