Happy Halloween

Last year we tried pulling a Halloween party together but lacked in enough interested expats. But this year, everything came together and we pulled off Halloween crafts, costumes (Eliana was Rapunzel), a pizza party, trick-or-treating to 9 houses, candy trading and pumpkin carving (I attempted Tinker Bell).

We walked in 90 degree heat at 7:00pm, a first for me. But the lightning and thunder was a nice touch.

Happy Halloween from Indonesia!

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Taman Safari

I had pretty low expectations for Taman Safari, a conservation/amusement park about an hour away from Bogor. I knew there was a zoo where you could drive your car through. Students told funny stories of zebras sticking their heads inside the car and they all screamed, etc. No one really raved of the place, but I had always wanted to at least check it out before we go.

What I didn’t know was how big the park was, how well organized it was, how the animal areas were so beautiful and well constructed (better than any zoo I’ve ever seen) and how the rest of the park had so many different forms of entertainment!

We arrived around 9:30 am and stayed until almost 6:00 at night. The day was packed with so much, from the actual zebra head in the car moments, to an acrobatic show, cowboy show (with Hollywood size set, people and animal choreography and effects), two haunted houses, a dolphin show, Globe of Death (with 4 motorcycles circling each other inside), kid rides, and NO LINES!

We walked from one thing to the next buying snacks and feeding orangutans, and seemed to always magically arrive only a few minutes before the next show started. It was great! And to be honest felt like it really blew Disneyland out of the water with cost and efficiency of time spent. Only tip is to go early as to avoid traffic to Puncak. If you ever find yourself on Java, I highly recommend checking out Taman Safari, a beautiful park in the middle of a jungle.

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Repatriation

A friend shared this article with my husband recently and I have just had the time to read it. It really spoke to me and helped me visualize what I’ve been feeling recently. One part in particular stood out to me:

If you’re from a circle culture and live temporarily in a square society, “You are no longer 100% Circle, but you’ll never again be 100% Square. You are left — almost hanging — somewhere in the middle.” This is such a great visual for me to express how I’ve felt these past 18 months. I have felt like a guest for so long, living and working the best I can in a culture so very different from what I know. To return home will be familiar, but a huge change as I’ve had to adapt so much in this time.

And Eliana?

Interestingly enough, there is a fourth shape that enters this discussion. If a child (in their developmental years such as our two youngest were), follows his or her parents from Circle Country to Square Society, he or she will become — not a Triangle Tenant, like the adult parent, but a Star. They will be a Star with multiple points of reference when considering where they are from, what they believe in, what foods they like, and how they see the world.

They will always be Stars.” To be honest? I love this.

You see I’m in a very precarious situation right now. I’m preparing myself and my daughter to repatriate soon while watching my husband repatriate already. He has done well, but has voiced a few struggles in the past couple of weeks.

I don’t think there is much that we can do to prepare for reverse culture shock. We will return as different people, which I’m pleased with. However these changes will most likely be long-term challenges we will endure for years.

I always wanted to know what it would be like to be one of my students, who are so often refugees or immigrants from other countries. But the thing is I will never know. I’m not moving to another country and staying there. I’ve adapted to a new culture and will be moving home, changed, and I have no idea how much.

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*Special thanks to Jessie for sharing the article and Christie for the picture!

Trip Home

Our way home started at 6:30am on Gili Air and ended at 11:30pm in Bogor. It was a long day, that went rather smoothly if not for the 2 hour flight delay. But I guess it just goes to show that even living so close to the Gilis does not make it easy to get there.

To briefly break it down it takes: a public ferry ride from Gili Air to Lombok, taxi from Bangsal to Senggigi, a brief stop at our favorite Italian Bed and Breakfast for lunch and a quick swim, local angkot around town for shopping, taxi to the Mataram airport, flight to Jakarta, and another taxi to Bogor. Whew.

A bit bummed to have left such a paradise. It really is my kind. Eliana hit her groove and owned that island. She electively spoke Bahasa to anyone who would listen and made a couple of sets of new girlfriends just by walking up to them and introducing herself. Such confidence! Its like something clicked for her on that island. We’ll see how it transitions in Bogor…

It feels like I’ve finally kicked off my two month version of making my way back home. My real home. And I think I’ll need the full two months to do it.

I think it’ll go by quickly, at least I kind of hope it does. Because I’m really craving my home; my city, my house, my complete family.

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How we get around the Gilis

My friend ran around the island yesterday in about 30 minutes. I wanted to explore it on foot, but with a 5 year old, that would take forever. So we splurged on a horse carriage. We looped the island (though I’m pretty sure he took a short cut down the middle through the kampung toward the end) in about 20-30 minutes.

Definitely accomplished one of Ellie’s Life List goals. Happy girl over here.

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A week in the Gilis

… Does the body good.

But you sure have to earn this little island of paradise. It took us a taxi at 6:30, a bus to the airport, then a plane to Lombok, a private car to the harbor, then a speed boat to the Gilis with an arrival around 3:00pm!

It’s worth it though. We checked into our cottage, swam, and ate an amazing dinner at Scallywags, an outstanding organic food restaurant.

I’m just waking up with a plan to work out by the pool with a friend, eat and swim at the beach all day and maybe order the same dinner again tonight because it was just that damn good. Or maybe I’ll walk around the island this afternoon and explore. No cars or motorcycles here… Just bicycles and horse carriages.

It’s lovely, really. One of my favorite places in earth.

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Five

I love that Eliana’s birthday is only four days after mine because I get to combine them into one party and step out of the limelight. Although today is technically my birthday (30! Wee!) we had a party for Elle and invited her closest (and my closest) friends over for dinner and cake.

It was lovely. And although she’s four for four more days… She already looks older. Acts older. Plays older. And I love it.

I hear moms sometimes say things like they want their kid to stop growing. They joke, can’t you just stay like this forever? And I don’t get it. Yeah, the kid is cute, but how amazing is it to see them grow?

Eliana read her birthday cards out loud. By herself. And she’s going to be five in four days.

I love this growing up stuff!

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The next chapter of Bali or Bust

It has been a delight to record our adventures in SE Asia on this blog for the past couple of years. I initially created Bali or Bust as a way to motivate me to meet one of my top goals on my Life List: living abroad for at least a year. We thought we’d be here for two, but we’ve been presented with an extraordinary opportunity… one we can’t pass up.

Indonesia has been amazing, challenging and sometimes even maddening, but nonetheless one of the most incredible things my family and I have accomplished. We have taken on tons of professional development, learned new cultural skills, a new language, and traveled every opportunity possible.

But as all adventures begin, they also must… evolve. Please don’t see this next chapter as an end to Bali or Bust. In fact, I’d like to take this blog to a new level and focus on other big items on my Life List. I plan to share my progress here.

The next chapter is still in the works, but enough has been green lighted to share with you now. Seth has accepted a position for a large organization in the United States, starting soon. I’m thrilled for him, and for what it means for our family. I won’t have to work four part-time jobs or scramble for child care like I did before we left the US. I won’t have to eat dinner alone on weekdays, like I do now, as Seth will be working remotely and will be home, in Portland, up to 60% of the time. We are thrilled!

But… You see I can’t just leave right now. As a teacher, I have invested a lot of energy into my students. I’m managing clubs that I created and a homeroom of seniors, who are desperate for help with their university applications. I feel obligated to at least guide them until the end of the semester, and I also recognize how essential the bridge is between the US and Indonesia. I don’t intend to burn that bridge.

Thus Eliana and I will stay here until mid-December. A part of me is buzzing with excitement, envisioning all of the new projects I get to do in my very own house back home (I forgot how much renting a house sucks). Another part of me is content to stay here forever, especially when I’m at school working. (What can I say? I love my job.)

I have a feeling these next few months will fly by. I have a lot of plans already (Hello Gilis in two weeks!!), which I think will keep me occupied and focused. My goal is to leave without regret; feeling fulfilled and satisfied and incredibly excited about returning home to our family and friends, which will hopefully involve even more growth beyond our wildest dreams.

Growth that I intend to continue to share with you here.