Jakarta

Jakarta… You so crazy. I’m thankful I don’t have to visit on a regular basis and deal with your disgusting air, choking traffic, and your unseeingly organized chaos.

I visit only when I’m in the mood for a shit show. Show me your crazies; your women dressed in cocktail dresses and 5 inch heals to go out to lunch, your bedazzled cartoon iPhone cases, tiaras, and offensive signage. You’re so beyond help at this point that I visit you only to use you and leave. Give me your international food and chains. I’ll shop. But then I’ll leave. And be so thankful I can.

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A Love Letter to Portland

A friend recently shared this Love Letter to Portland published on Huffington Post. It made me smile, but also made my heart ache for home. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before… but I once thought I had exhausted Portland. I thought that living there for 20 years was quite enough, that I had seen all that it had to offer and was ready to move on.

When I read this Love Letter, I know exactly what streets the writer is referencing. I know the cafes, the dive bars, the balding Elvis with coke bottle lensed glasses; none of it is new to me.

What I think has changed in the past two years is my attitude towards the known and home. I still love the unknown and travel, the sense of exploration and surprise. But I crave the balance of returning home.

Portland is home.

5 more weeks.

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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