Indonesia / Travel

The First Rule of Peace Corps…

(* Disclaimer: this covers most of my second week of training in Indonesia. Uploading images was the biggest pain ever, it took me like one solid week to upload these images…so I will seriously reconsider posts with more than one image. I miss fast internet. Meh!)

…is never ride a motorcycle. Well, it’s not the first and it’s definitely not the only rule, but it’s the first one that was explicitly designated to send a volunteer straight home if violated. Even if it’s violated during vacation—while in service—in another country. Fortunately, I have no desire to die (or be sent home) in the next two years, so this is one rule I have no intention to break.

...as tempting as it may be.

Although motorcycles are out, we encountered a (debatable) means of transportation that were neither approved, nor disproved by the Peace Corps. The Batu Ferris Wheel.

The Ferris Wheel - Batu, Indonesia

Yes, this is Indonesia and yes, riding this is questionably unsafe, but in Ecuador I’ve seen rides that look much less safe than this and kids ride them. And they survive.

We survived too!

After a long day of buying cellphones and other things in the city of Malang, me and two other volunteers took a relaxingly slow ride with incredible views of the park and mountains in the Batu town square, followed by my first Indonesian coconut. Afterwards, we took a final ride back to our village on our sixth angkot (small bus) of the day. The one pictured had a flashing blue and red light inside. I’m glad to see party buses are found everywhere.

Many villages in Batu are apple farmers.

Mosque in Batu Town Square

Coconuts in Batu

Batu Town Square - this reminds me of Up!

All you need is a flashing blue and red light to make the angkot a party bus.

While this may sound like all fun and games, it was just a lot of fun compiled into one day. We continue to study bahasa Indonesian 6 hours a day and have begun the second part of our training: learning how to teach English as a foreign language in Indonesia. We also have to do several community activities such as mapping our village and eventually, setting up English tutoring sessions in local schools. The only day we’re “free” is on Sunday and I’ve spent most of the day catching up on language homework and reading a very large required book on teaching English abroad.

On another note, there are goldfish in the mandi! I mistakenly understood these as new pets for Tashiah, but apparently they eat any insects in the water.  While I thank them for their service, these fish are literally dangerously close to getting flushed.

oh...hi there!

At least there will be something to keep me company the next time the electricity goes out in the middle of my mandi. Last week, my entire village blacked out and coincidently, most of the Peace Corps volunteers, including me, were in the middle of mandi-ing. While I devised strategies to dash through the house in my towel to grab a flashlight (completely unacceptable in an extremely modest Islamic culture!) Dina came to the rescue with a tiny candle. Mandi by candlelight? Challenge accepted.

"Malaria” pills…right…these keep you in the Peace Corps!)

Some things seem so surreal that I’m starting to think these malaria pills I’m required to take on a weekly basis, not only produce vivid dreams/nightmares/hallucinations, but are like the blue pill designed to keep you in the Matrix.

Vivid dreams? Check. Nightmares? Occasionally. Hallucinations? Well, waking up to the call to prayer at 4am every

day, combined with the constant Arabic chanting from houses and loudspeakers, I often feel like I’m in Aladdin and my life has its soundtrack. This is not a complaint by the way. It may be a dream come true. (Except at 4 in the morning.)

( I took an audio sample of the 4am call to prayer. It’s a little muffled and low…and on second thought, kinda creepy.)

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2 thoughts on “The First Rule of Peace Corps…

  1. The recording of the prayer is hauntingly beautiful in a creepy sort of way… And the tidbit about the fish in the Mandi is really interesting!

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