That Jomblo Life

The past two weeks back in Wonosari have been eventful—filled with adventure, teaching, frustration, laziness, coughing, naps, and homemade smoothies.

The Classroom

One of my classes!!
One of my classes!!

My time in the classroom was met with mild success. I co-teach ten 80-minute, roughly 30-student classes each week. Six of them are tenth grade classes, and the other four are eleventh grade. My eleventh graders were taking a test the first week, so I only had the tenth grade students. I had them all make nametags so I can at least try to learn their names. I also had them all introduce themselves to me and bribed them with American permen (“candy” – chocolate and fruit flavored Tootsie Rolls that traveled spectacularly). Hopefully that’ll give a little encouragement and take away some of the fear of talking in front of/with me.

Their English isn’t too great and only about 30-50% of the students will go to college. This plus the whopping 17 classes every student has to take (the normal smattering of history, math, science plus a handful of religion-based courses like Arabic because I’m at an Islamic school) adds up to very little motivation to learn English and very little time to practice it. Trying to find a way to actually make a difference in the classroom when I see the students once week (if I’m lucky) has been one of my greatest struggles. I haven’t been here too long yet, so I’m cutting myself some slack. But I am at a bit of a loss for how to approach the situation.

More students!
More students!

By far one of my favorite moments was when I asked one guy what his favorite colors are. He responded with “black and yellow. You call me Wiz Khalifa.” I was impressed and am very tempted to oblige.

This past week was my second week of classes, and it was rather short. We had off Wednesday and Thursday for the Muslim holiday Idul Adha (some celebrated it on the 23rd, some on the 24th), and then we had off Friday because the students were hearing some sort of presentation from local universities (???). This means I only met with two of my classes. One of them at least was an eleventh grade class, but I’ve still not met three entire classes (and I won’t this coming week because the students have midterm exams so no class).

My Monday eleventh grade class was a bit of a hot mess. To quote Miley Cyrus, “I came in like a wrecking ball”; or, since the lesson was on passive voice, maybe “a wrecking ball was what I came in like” would be more appropriate. Is that actually passive voice? Who knows! I’m sure my students don’t (through no fault of their own)…

As an English Teaching Assistant, my job isn’t really to teach the intricacies of grammar, but to get the students speaking and to act as a cultural ambassador, showing them pictures of all-American things like Eagles and hamburgers and Beyoncé. But I, along with my co-teacher, attempted to teach everything about the passive voice in 80 minutes. We treated the first bit like review because we thought they’d already learned passive voice (mistake #1). For the first activity, we had them paired up and identifying the passive voice in various passages. But they were on things like earthquakes and clouds and tulips and used very big, veryspecific vocabulary (mistake #2). Walking around trying to help students I

Lesson on the passive voice....
Lesson on the passive voice….

realized that I could barely tell which sentences were passive and which were not (mistake #3). In frantically trying to clarify the structure of passive voice, and ensure lots of learning was indeed happening, I spoke at a slightly-flustered-Bryan pace. My default speaking pace is sprinter-with-caffeine, so this was more like sprinter-with-caffeine-being-chased-by-cheetah (mistake #4). We ended with a game where I played music and they tossed around a blow-up globe and whoever had it when the music stopped had to go up to the board and change a sentence (no earthquakes, clouds, or tulips this time) from active to passive voice. This went over well, though I doubt the passive voice was learned by the students.

My tenth grade class was a little better, but that’s not saying much. I made the mistake of thinking class was over twenty minutes earlier than it was and so our entire lesson plan was awkwardly short. We were talking about intentions (“What will you do for the Idul Adha holiday?”), which sounds easier enough. But there was a lot of floundering. I tailored the globe game for this class, so that was a positive.

Shoutout to all the teachers I know for being awesome. I understand now.

Food

The first night I got back to Wonosari, I had nasi and ikan (fish) for dinner, and learned the proper technique behind eating with one’s (right) hand. You pick up

Learned the proper technique for eating with my (right) hand
Learned the proper technique for eating with my (right) hand

some food using all five fingers like a small, obedient arcade crane, and then bring your hand to your mouth and, using your pinky, ring, and middle fingers as a plate, push the food in with your thumb. Do not open your hand until you are positive all food has been shoveled in or you will end up with rice all of your face, your lap, the table, and your dining companions. I am not a Jedi yet, so it will take many more meals for me to figure this one out, but I’m on my way.

Often when I’m dining with my Ibu, I will have a small mountain of food in front of

me. Often, I will feel full and be unable to eat everything. My Ibu’s fave phrase has become “Finish it.” When she says this, her normally warm and affectionate voice takes on a steely tone and she becomes a mob boss who wants her lackey to off someone. This frightens me. The end result is that I immediately devour anything and everything in sight. This has led me to eating mysterious pieces of goat meat, at least three tons of rice, and chugging a coconut.

Idul Adha
(this section contains brief and slightly graphic explanation of animal sacrifice)

A Muslim Festival of Sacrifice, Idul Adha is a holiday commemorating Abraham’s obedience and willingness to offer his son, Isaac, as a sacrifice at God’s command. Just before Abraham did so, God intervened and stopped Abraham, saying that was good enough proof of Abraham’s willingness to follow His word. God gave Abraham a ram to sacrifice in Isaac’s place, and all was good.

In observance of the holiday, Muslim neighborhoods gather together and sacrifice animals (predominantly cows and goats from what I saw) in honor of Abraham’s deeds. They then butcher the animals and divide the meat into parcels for every family. It sounds bloody and cruel, but it is neither. I did not see the sacrifice itself, but the Islamic faith mandates quick and humane slaughtering practices (to ensure

Some of the neighbors gathered for Idul Adha. Immediately to their left, men are divvying up the animals.
Some of the neighbors gathered for Idul Adha. Immediately to their left, men are divvying up the animals.

that the meat is halal [which is a similar concept to Judaism’s kosher mandate]), and there was very little blood on the ground when I got there. The butchering itself, too, was extremely fast and efficient. The men in the community worked together with amazing speed and dexterity to divvy up the meat and organs.

All around was the buzz of life—families looking on, talking, celebrating. As odd as it may sound, the feel was similar to a lively yet reverent neighborhood barbecue in the United States (only instead of cooking burgers, they were making them). I was welcomed at the celebration with open arms. I realized later when a knock came and I received a bag of my own very fresh meat that I was welcomed to the community with open arms as well.

Banyak Pantai

Wonosari is known for its many (banyak) beaches (pantai), and after the Idul Adha ceremony, I was finally able to visit some of them! Bu Mul and myself piled into the car with her daughter, brother, sister-in-law, two of her nephews, and one of her nieces, and headed south to check out some beaches. (Note: I’d visited Bu’s village the day before and met her entire extended family and dozens of neighbors—it was exciting and I got to practice my Bahasa Indonesia and eat food, and it was also exhausting. Meeting people is hard enough when you both speak the same language).

Pantai Maron with Bu Mul's little nephew
Pantai Maron with Bu Mul’s little nephew

The first beach we went to was Pantai Baron, and it was covered in colorful wooden fishing boats and tourists. There was a tide pool area, so lots of people were hanging out in the shallow waters there. The water was warm and delightful and I wanted to go in, but no one else did so I thought better of it. I wore sneakers, which was foolish.

Pantai Kukup sign
Pantai Kukup sign

Next we moved on to Pantai Kukup, which has a cliff-ish spot overlooking the water and some coral reef. There were people everywhere on the reef with plastic buckets and little fish nets scooping up the many little creatures that live in the reef. We ate a lunch of rice and goat and chicken and beef (and my first coconut!), and then the younger group went down to try our luck on the reef. I was terrible, but it was a lot of fun.

Pantai Sepanjang huts
Pantai Sepanjang huts

After that, we went to Pantai  Sepanjang. This beach looked the most “tropical,” with a line of little grass huts along the roads selling coconuts and food and hats and everything else. This one was really just a pit-stop so everyone else could pray, but it was pretty nonetheless.

View of Pantai Indrayanti
View of Pantai Indrayanti

The final beach we went to was Pantain Indrayanti, which I’ve been told is the beach to go to. It was definitely the most crowded, and featured a little reef like Kukup. There was also a large rock you could climb, so a few of us went up and enjoyed the view. Again, I wanted to go in, but I didn’t have a change of clothes and only Bu Mul’s little nephew went, so I just relaxed a little on the beach. It’s odd seeing the beach culture here, which is very different from the Jersey Shore’s. We beach-hopped, and it seems like that’s what most people do—you don’t camp out all day lazing around at one beach. People here also don’t really swim the way we do in Jersey. Instead of going out to the deeper water with waves (and dangerous currents), they huge the shore and go under by just laying flat on the sand. No beach towels. No lifeguards that I saw. Very small beaches with large rocks/cliffs on the sides.

Beach attire is also very different. Because Indonesia is predominantly Muslim, almost all of the women had jilbabs covering their heads and pretty much everyone, men and women, were fully clothed. No bathing suits (except mine), no skin showing (except the chests of a very small number of younger guys), jeans, sleeves, everything. It was strange to me, especially in such a hot place. Neat to see though!

Other experiences these past two weeks:

–Went to an Indonesian concert—Ebeit G. Ade who plays the acoustic guitar and sings great, melancholic songs.

–Went to the immigration office in Jogja for the first of what I’m sure will be many, many painful times. It was awful and is one of the circles of hell and is worse than the DMV trust me and you don’t want to go there ever but they rejected me so I’ll be back real soon and I cannot wait.

–Went to a tailor (penjahit, not to be confused with penjahat, which means “criminal”) and had my very own batik shirt made out of the school’s new Thursday uniform fabric.

Some of the teachers became official civil servants and brought doughnuts for everyone!
Some of the teachers became official civil servants and brought doughnuts for everyone!

–Tried chicken feet.

–Tried goat liver. And bladder. And just lots of goat in general.

–Met a new frog friend who hangs out in a damp corner of my kitchen and, no matter how many times I move him (or her) outside, always finds her (or his) way back. Considering kissing it and see if royalty pops up in my kitchen (I do live in the Special District of Yogyakarta which is ruled by a Sultan, after all).

–Began riding my bike a lot to explore the neighborhood and Wonosari, and just to get some exercise. I wasn’t a huge biker back home, but here it’s much more convenient and allows me to zoom past people with a smile and a selamat sore (good [late] afternoon). When I walk, I have trouble making it ten minutes without being stopped, and people often call out to me. It’s never in a mean or offensive way, but my otherness is very apparent and I haven’t gotten used to or comfortable with it just yet.

–Started Bahasa Indonesia tutoring sessions with one of the teachers at school! I was kind of dreading beginning this because I’ve been lazy and exhausted and sweaty and hot and just want to sleep most of the time, but it was absolutely wonderful. I picked a few exercises in the first lesson of a Bahasa book that the

One of the things the students learn in school is how to prep a body to be buried. (1) Wait to hours to make sure it is indeed dead. (2) Wash the body. (3) Wrap the body in white cloth (regardless of status while alive, all Muslims are buried in a simple white cloth). (4) Pray. (5) Put the wrapped body into the ground.
One of the things the students learn in school is how to prep a body to be buried. (1) Wait two hours to make sure it is indeed dead. (2) Wash the body. (3) Wrap the body in white cloth (regardless of status while alive, all Muslims are buried in a simple white cloth). (4) Pray. (5) Put the wrapped body into the ground.

grant administrators in Indo, AMINEF, required all of the ETAs to get. I chose activities (dialogues and pronunciation work) that I felt hit at the areas I need the most work in (speaking in full sentences and not sounding like one of the goats that lives next door when I attempt Indonesian). My tutor, a Bahasa Arab teacher at school who’s about the same age as me, was very patient, took what the book gave and extended it to be more relevant, and used Google Translate with me like a champ (Google Translate is my life, my everything.). He also taught me the slang word jomblo, which is a term for an unmarried, single individual (male or female). We’re both v jomblo.

–Struggled with electricity. For a four day stretch I couldn’t use the air conditioning, fridge, and lights at the same time or I’d trip the breaker. This was particularly frightening when it first happened because it was night and dark and the breaker is outside. Quickly overcame that fear and was glad I brought a flashlight. After many visits from various electricity professionals, we finally fixed the problem (still unsure what it was). I never realized how much the lone bedroom airconditioner meant to me.

–Learned how to pay the water and electricity bills!

–Went into Jogja with Bu Mul and three students to cheer the students on in an Indonesian constitution competition.

–Learned how to take the bus to/from the big city!

Until next time which will hopefully be much sooner,

bh

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Bandung, Bahasa, and Banyak Makanan

So sorry that it’s been forever since I’ve posted. I decided I wouldn’t blog while I was at orientation in Bandung (from August 30-September 13) because I figured not much would happen. I was a fool. I’m going to do a quick re-cap of my adventures in Bandung, and then I’ll start posting about Wonosari again!

The first week in Wonosari was extremely difficult. I made a mountain of mistakes, waffled around a lot, tried not to drown my new lizard and ant friends in tears, and attempted to re-learn how to do basic life things. At the end of the week I was exhausted and knew I needed the time in Bandung—not just to begin getting an actual grip on Bahasa Indonesia and communicating, but also to mentally prepare myself for what my life will be for the next nine months.

When I met the four other ETAs flying out of Jogja (shoutout to Julia, Kendra, Safiyah, and Savannah) I realized just how much I also needed interaction with others going through the same craziness as me. We talked the entire trip and it was an excellent lesson in the importance of not only connecting with my community in Wonosari, but also connecting with my fellow ETAs—I never knew what a luxury it was to communicate free and easily in English.

Orientation took place in the lovely Hotel Sheraton in Bandung, and it was great. Enormous, warm shower; enormous, fluffy bed; Western food left and right (literally, they gave us snacks and coffee during every break and breakfast and lunch were sprawling buffets). I spent a good 85% of the time in that hotel eating. I needed to stock up on not-rice before being immersed in rice. Almost every day we had sessions from 8am-5:30pm and they ranged from Bahasa Indonesia class to teacher training to grant-specific and Indonesia-specific panels, presentations, discussions. Evenings we had to ourselves, and we often ventured out into Bandung to explore nightlife and such that many of us won’t have access to at our sites (I for example, ate Burger King one night because there are no Western restaurants in Wonosari and I figured I could get my fix of processed chicken for the year).

Bahasa Class

Bahasa class with Wisma Bahasa was by far my favorite. When we first got to Bandung we took a placement test and based on our results we were sorted into one of four classes (Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, etc.). Three of them were beginner classes (for everyone who failed miserably) and the last was a post-beginner class (for the small group of Bahasa masters among us). I couldn’t identify a ship or the verb “to cook” in Bahasa, and so I was put in one of the beginner classes. There were eight of us under the tutelage of the wonderful Ermita, and we had a great time (and learned lots!).

Favorite Indonesian word:
kacamata hitam (“kah-cha-maht-ah heet-ahm”)
Definition: Sunglasses (literally “glasses black”).
Definition to me: Karate battle cry–KACAMATA HITAAAAAAAAAAAAAAM.

Also. Best joke of the orientation?

How do you give someone a black eye?
You hitam.
(copyright Julia in Jogja)

As part of class we had a lot of homework assignments where we had to practice our Bahasa by interviewing Indonesians. The obvious choice was the hotel staff. By the end of orientation, I was best friends with the night security guard Iman, and I’m positive the staff were more than ready for us to leave and stop asking them questions (“Where are you from?” “Where do you live?” “Where do you work?” “Do you like bananas?” “What time did you wake up?” “What time did you shower?”)

Other Highlights

–Playing futsol (essentially indoor soccer) against the hotel staff. Though exceptionally unathletic, I managed to both successfully goalie and score a goal.

–Cooler Bandung weather

–Eating a meal in traditional Indo style with my hands (it was rice and duck and I was horrible at it)

–Watching the sunrise over Bandung while doing some 6am yoga with fellow ETAs Abby and Savannah

–Going out for karaoke twice and jamming out to Lady Gaga’s “You & I” with fellow ETA Grace (and getting to sing “Nebraska, Nebraska I love you!”)

–Finally experiencing the bowel discomfort that I’d avoided for so long

–The giant, awesome poolside pods

–Shopping at Pasar Baru, an enormous seven-story traditional market, and successfully haggling for some awesome batik clothing

–Air conditioning

–Meeting the ambassador to Indonesia who, when I told him at lunch that I was placed in Wonosari (v small town), stared blankly at me and moved onto the next ETA

–Co-teaching a lesson in a Bandung high school on describing animals with ETA Abby and panicking when we realized the students knew way more English than we’d prepared for. After considering throwing a video or a Tennyson poem at them, we decided just to add some vocab (“exoskeleton” to describe the bodies of cockroaches and habitat vocab like “tree” and “coop”)

–Riding in angkots! These minibus public transportation vehicles are basically a cross between the Scooby Doo Mystery Van and a clown car and fit about twice as many people as you think possible

–Venturing out the first night in Bandung to a mall and meeting native Bandung-ite Theo, who became our guide for the evening and bought us all Starbucks

–Drinking Starbucks in Indo

–Hiking around Tebing Keraton with a group of ETAs and Cynthia and Chris. Cynthia is part of the Uber start-up team in Bandung and Chris is her German/Indonesian boyfriend. Both are awesome and we had an awesome time hiking to the top of whatever it was we hiked. We saw Bandung in the early morning with mist over it, hiked through jungle/rainforest, were feet away from monkeys in the wild, walked through a creepy Dutch army cave left over from the days of colonization, and drank coffee at the most hipster coffee place I’ve ever been to.

–Going out to a few Indonesian bars

–Playing beer pong in Indo

–Co-teaching a lesson in the same Bandung school with my actual co-teaching, Pak Rifa. We taught about describing people and we rocked it.

–Getting to know the amazing 33 other people going on this journey with me

Sedikit Demi Sedikit

It’s been awhile since I had time/WiFi to post, but I’m in the city Bandung for a two week orientation and I have the internet! So here’s finally a post with some more about my first week in Wonosari. It, too, is also long and rambly. It, too, is also a far cry from Dickens or Marvel.

Wednesday, August 27

For breakfast today I had a tiny banana and a Nutella+strawberry jam+tiny banana sandwich with some instant coffee I stole from the hotel in Jakarta. The coffee was pretty terrible, but the breakfast was great and did wonders for my mental health.

Pak Rifa briefly explained how to walk to school yesterday. I decided I would try to do that instead of making him pick me up. I left 40 minutes to get to school even though it’s only about 10 minutes away because a sense of direction is not one of my gifts. Somehow, miraculously, I DIDN’T GET LOST! It’s all about the small victories.

A group of students invited me to join their conversation outside and we chatted a bit. There were about two dozen, and they had been chosen because some important official was visiting and they were the ones who talked to him. Almost all of them were able to and comfortable with introducing themselves in English, and it got me excited to teach. Afterwards, I went back to the teacher’s office and then Pak Rifa took me to introduce myself to every class. It was a bit exhausting and I think I spoke a little too quickly (what else is new), but it was really fun. I was prepared for them all to ask me my religion marital status (oftentimes some of the first questions Indonesians ask), but only one or two classes did. I said I was not yet married and that I was single, but I fear I may come to regret the extra attention…

I also tried to speak a little Javanese, the local language spoken throughout Central Java, in each class. Although “Nami kulo Bryan” (my name is Bryan) wasn’t much, it made the kids laugh without fail.

For lunch, Bu Mul took me to the former ETA at my site, Anna’s, favorite restaurant. We got lotek, which is sort of an Indonesian salad with vegetables and such, but way better. I also had dawet, which is a traditional drink that is excessively sweet and has gelatin-like chunks made from some type of leaf.

On Rabu We Have English Club

Pak Rifa runs the English club, which meets every Wednesday (rabu). Today was their first session, and he asked each student to come up with a question to ask me and ideas for what they wanted to get out of the club. Questions included “How old are you,” “What do you think of MAN Wonosari?” and, my personal favorite, “Can you tell us the history of America?” It was difficult for me to think of a way to concisely and simply put our history, so I tried to explain that we were colonies of Great Britain like Indonesia was a colony of the Netherlands. We fought for independence and got it and then slowly started moving west. Among the things they want to learn are about America, how to speak English confidently, how to give speeches, about storytelling, how to sing English songs, and about theatre (I’d told them all I studied theatre). Hopefully I can deliver!

Batik!

After school, Bu Mul took me to the traditional market (basar) because I explained I wanted to get some batik (traditional Indonesian formalwear that’s really colorful and has cool patterns) to wear to school. We walked instead of taking her motorcycle because a woman is not allowed to drive with a man behind her. The market was fascinating–people and stalls everywhere. The batik stall we visited was owned by Bu Mul’s family and thank goodness Bu Mul was there to help me because I realized I cannot buy things in Indonesian yet…

Once I got back home, I introduced myself to my neighbors across the way and brought some Oleh-Oleh. I spoke as much Indonesian as I could and relied heavily on smiling. It was far from perfect, but not bad.

Thursday, August 28

This morning I sat in on one of Bu Fitri’s 11th grade English classes. She’s my other co-teacher, and it was really great to observe and see what the students are learning (how to write invitations and letters), how they’re learning, and how they are with English. Later I sat in on one of Pak Rifa’s English classes, and that was great too.

After school, Pak Rifa and I went to get food (I treated him this time!) so that I could practice ordering in a restaurant. I crashed and burned. Even though I pretty much understand all of the numbers, I can’t comprehend anything at normal speaking pace. I just panic, squinch up my face in a “confused-help-me” look and swivel to Pak Rifa to save me.

Bu Mul was looking for me, so we took the food back to my home and ate there. Bu Mul had left a bowl of fruit for me (this is where the tiny breakfast bananas came from) when I first moved in and she brought it over to the table. Before she and Pak Rifa left, I asked for help with the fruit. I don’t recognize most of it and so have no idea how to eat it. They explained how to eat starfruit, and showed me how to eat salak or snake fruit (which is very aptly named because the skin literally looks like scales. It’s freaky actually, but tastes good).

Bu Mul also showed me how to work the television in the house (!!!!). I don’t anticipate using it much, but it’s still good to know. Before they left, I noticed a big lizard (still small, but a fat small lizard) on my ceiling and a little baby lizard in front of it. I turned to Pak Rifa and said, “Look, a family!” The second the words came out of my mouth, the fat lizard pounced on the baby lizard, suffocated it, and swallowed it whole. After a moment of shock, Pak Rifa let out a laugh and said “Family.” Unsure whether Fat Liz(ard) was sending me a mafia-esque threat to behave or protecting me a la secret service.

After Pak Rifa and Bu Mul left (around 4:30), I decided that instead of hid


***I’d like everyone to register this line and put it in the back of your minds, we’ll come back to it later.***

As I was saying, after Pak and Bu left, I decided to venture out and explore the neighborhood instead of hiding in my air conditioned bedroom.

I was only about ten minutes into my walk when one of the people I said hi to invited me into his home for tea. They told us many many times at the Pre-Departure Orientation in D.C. that we should always say yes—that’s how you’ll really experience the culture. So I said yes. Complete stranger, but he seemed nice enough.

We had hot (and sweet) tea and chatted. His name is Pak Doressaetyawan (maybe?) and he has an eleven-year-old son. He works at a bank in Jogja (which is about an hour/hour and a half away). My Indonesian and his English couldn’t get us too far past that, but it was nice. His wife brought out a plate of fried sweet potatoes snacks. They were delicious. Then he asked me to stay for dinner. Again, I thought, why not? So I did. We had nasi (rice), tahu (tofu), and some sort of soup with corn in it. I told him Nebraska, where I went to school, is famous for its corn. We exchanged phone numbers and he gave me the rest of the sweet potatoes to take home. I’ll have to stop back and thank him and his family for their kindness.

I thought I’d just about escaped making any enormous cultural faux pas when WHAP. He asked for a picture with me and I said sure! His wife (in shorts and out of her jilbab [head covering]) took the picture. I asked her to join us and be in the picture and she, only slightly uncomfortably, insisted “No. Shame” and pointed at her head. I didn’t realize she couldn’t take a picture without her head covered. It’s slow going, but I’m learning Bahasa Indonesia and Indonesian culture sedikit demi sedikit (little by little, as one of the teachers at school told me).

I went home after dinner and decided that, since it was almost 6 and dark out and I go to bed around 10 because exhaustion, that I’d shower and lounge around the house.

After a semi-successful run-in with my shower I took out my computer, tried and failed to make the magic WiFi corner work, and decided just to write and hope I could get internet at school tomorrow.

Now I want you all to think back to that line I asked you to remember. I was right there in my writing when I heard a vehicle pull up and my gate scrape open. By this point it was dark and 7:15 and I wasn’t expecting anyone and then someone called my name from outside and I felt like I was caught in my curlers and my bathrobe with my fuzzy slippers on (I was in basketball shorts, a tshirt, and my glasses, so pretty much the same).

I was a bit unnerved, but happy to see Pak Pandu, another teacher at the school. About 20 students live at MAN Wonosari, and Pak Pandu is the teacher who lives with them and acts as dad and RA. Pak Rifa and Bu Mul both live far away, so Pak Rifa explained that Pak Pandu is the person I should call if I need anything or want to explore or eat or something. So happy, but surprised.

He asked if I’d eaten and unsure how to respond I kind of mumble-slurred something unintelligible in English. He said he was going to take me out around Wonosari at night. So I hopped on his motorcycle and we drove around. The cool night air mixed with all of the banners and lights left from the Indonesian Independence Day celebration made for an exhilarating experience. We grabbed dinner (because now I’m eating ten meals a day like a hobbit), drove around some more, stopped at a really hoppin’ park with a sculpture of a broken plane that was actually just a mounted broken plane, and had some streetfood meatballs that were very spicy. I’d thus far been shielded from makanan pedas (spicy food) by Pak Rifa and Bu Mul on grounds that my stomach might rebel, but I dove in. It was good, but set fire to my tongue. Pak Pandu insisted on buying both the dinner and the snack saying, “Tonight is your night.” It made all of the stresses of the past few days melt away. I can do this! I have another friend! Hooray!

Until next time,
bh