Bondowoso / Daily Life / Indonesia / Peace Corps / People

Ballin’ Birthday in Bondowoso

As far as I can tell, birthdays are pretty low key in Indonesia. I also didn’t make it a point to announce it to my community, so on the actual day, only my host mother knew.

The day went by. I went to a lengthy closing ceremony for a junior high school I casually taught at. I returned to my school. People fasted. I ate on the sly. I received lovely birthday wishes via text message, Facebook and email—which made my day—but overall, the day ended without much ceremony, and that was fine by me.

Just as I was about to brush my teeth, get into bed and watch True Blood and listen to my birthday playlist—both birthday gifts from Emily, an amazing PCV friend—my host sister arrived in her white, shiny motorcycle with a sweet chocolate cake with my name written on it (correctly!) in bright red icing.

I’m not really into sweets, or cake, but this cake is a mixture of yellow cake, chocolate swirls and some kind of crack because I have to restrain myself from eating more than one piece. (Ok, two.)

Now, Ramadan is ending and it will soon be Idul Fitri, which is like Islam’s Christmas. People will get gifts, and schools get a two-week holiday. Since we are much more settled in our sites and have a lot of time off, me and other PCVs are ready to venture out from our communities for the day and wrestle the public transportation systems.

I was spoiled for our first PCV reunion, because everyone came to me! Julie—the closest PCV to my site—coordinated with six of our nearest volunteers to come out and spend the day in Bondowoso. I thought they were just coming to hang out and visit, but they actually had some birthday surprises….

Seven buleh walked all over Bondowoso, hunting for restaurants and towing balloons. Sadly, most popped. Only this one remains.

Julie made this epic card, which pretty much sums up birthdays here. She drew a plate full of yellow rice, with candles. In Indonesia, you usually get special yellow rice for your birthday. (I didn’t, but cake is better.)

Thanks Sophie, Nicole, Blake, Mike, Delaney and Julie! It was great seeing you. (Mike, I was so happy to see you that I’ll ignore that you called me a brat on this card.)

We even had a little pool party, which made the day perfect. Sophie, Julie and Blake looking cool by the pool.

Also, a huge thank you to my parents and grandfather for gifting me money that will fund Bali next month—making it the most epic birthday present ever! And to Fer for actually paying for it with a functional PayPal account.

I can’t express how much I love all of you near and far—even if I didn’t mention you specifically—you have all made my 25th birthday very special and memorable.

XOXO – Melanie

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