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.
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….
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.