My apologies for not posting in over 2 months. That’s my b. In the beginning of the year I set a goal to post bi-weekly, but these posts take a while to create and the semester has been off to a very busy start. I spent two weeks in Thailand in December, and was lucky to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s Eve surrounded by dear friends. It was wonderful traveling with Mizuki and Andre (friends from college), and with some of my Fulbright friends. Although I was sick during the first part of the trip, I had an incredible time. Northern Thailand and Bangkok were my favorite parts by far. Southern Thailand was… meh. Going to Thailand has been on my bucket list since I was a child and overall I had an amazing time, but I was a bit disappointed by how touristy the country is. I’ve never traveled somewhere with so many Americans everywhere. It was a strange and somewhat unsettling at first.
In regards to 2017…
Saturday marked 100 days left in Indonesia. The past few weeks have consisted of me vacillating between feelings of, “Wow living here is always a challenge and I still can’t sleep properly because my neighborhood is so damn loud. I hate everything, there’s trash everywhere, please get me the hell outta here!” and “Wow I love Indonesia so much. I’m so lucky to have the sweetest students and to live in paradise. Everything is great and I want to stay in Labuan Bajo forever!”
It’s been six months, only three more to go. This week has been filled with stomach problems and pink eye. Disgusting, I know, but this is my reality for now. However, my parents are arriving in Bali in 2 weeks, the sun has finally come out after 2 straight weeks of rain, I have an exciting English talent and speech competition coming up at my school, and I plan on finally getting diving certified. This is life in Indonesia: a constant cycle of ups and downs.
Speaking of parents, I recently had a conversation with my lovely mother in which she complained about “having no idea what my daily life in Indonesia looks like.” Since Mama always knows best, I’ve decided to give you a glimpse of what my day-to-day looks like here.
Luckily for me, most of my classes don’t start until 8am at the earliest. (Aside from Thursdays when I have class at 7:15am and have to wake up at the ass-crack of dawn aka 5:45am). As a country, Indonesians generally wake up really early in the morning. It was difficult to adjust to at first, but I now wake up automatically at 7am. I honestly never thought I’d see the day.
Breakfast almost always consists of black coffee and oatmeal. I don’t have a kitchen in my kost (boarding house), so my options are limited. After getting ready, I hop on my motorbike and drive for about 15 minutes to school. Labuan Bajo is a really small city, some might consider it to be a large town. My school is situated on the outskirts of town, near the airport. Sometimes I have to pause class because the planes are so loud.
Sidenote: Whenever I go anywhere, I either see people that I know, or people that know me. My site mate and I are the first ever Fulbrighters in Flores, so Labuan Bajo has never had American English teachers before. This has put us in a position of high visibility in the town/city. I don’t mind it for the most part. The strong sense of community reminds me of Rhinebeck in many ways.
I spend the rest of my mornings teaching class, decorating my classroom, preparing for after school activities, and hanging out with the other teachers at my school.
Unlike most Indonesian schools, classes end at 1pm. It is expected that all students go back to their homes or kosts to shower, eat, and nap. I love this. It’s probably my favorite part of every day. Having a break in the middle of a very sweaty workday has been my saving grace this year. Cold showers have never felt so good.
For lunch, I usually stop by a warung (a type of Indonesian roadside restaurant) and get lunch di bungkus (take away). Lunch usually costs between 10.000 and 30.000 Rupiah, which is less that $1-$3. My favorite dishes are gado gado, which is a vegetable, rice, tempeh, and peanut sauce dish and ayam goreng, which is fried chicken. Have I mentioned that almost everything is fried here? It keeps food from going bad in the heat. It’s delicious but very unhealthy.
Once I get home, I blast my AC, eat, and either listen to a podcast, read, or nap. Life is hard, right?
Sore (late afternoon/evening)
Three out of the five days of the week, I go back to school in the late afternoon for English Club and WORDS practice. WORDS is an English speech and talent competition that my Fulbright ETA cohort is running. We each have to host a competition at our school, and one winner will travel with us to Jakarta for the national competition in April. It’s been wonderful working with my students on this because the students who are participating are very driven.
My English Clubs have been another highlight of my grant. I’ve been able to celebrate US holidays with them, and meetings are more relaxed than in a classroom setting. I’ve been able to develop meaningful relationships with a lot of these students, and I’ve noticed an improvement in their English.
I usually leave school around 5pm and head home to exercise before heading out for dinner. If I have a lot of work to do, I will head to my favorite place in Labuan Bajo: Café. In. Hit. Despite the horrible name, this air-conditioned oasis has become my home away from home. The wifi is good and the coffee is even better.
I often meet up with Sam, my site mate, to eat dinner. Figuring out where and what we’re going to eat is probably our favorite past time. Labuan Bajo may be small and remote, but due to tourism there’s a plethora of great restaurants. There’s Indonesian food from all over the archipelago, American food (awesome veggie burgers), a vegetarian restaurant, 4+ Italian restaurants (I had some of the best pizza of my life last night), a Mexican restaurant, and much more.
After dinner I head home and read and/or watch some Netflix before going to sleep. Life is pretty good here, so I guess I really shouldn’t complain.