Wild Bule Chase

by Tabitha Kidwell

I had my first Indonesian adventure the other day. For a session in our training, we visited the “American Corner” at the university. There is a very special phenomenon in Indonesia called “jam karet” – rubber time. Nothing quite starts on time. Except, apparently, for the trip to the American Corner. We were supposed to meet at 8, but I got to the hotel gates at maybe 8:06, and everyone was gone. One of the staff members put me in an angkot (mini-bus) and told the driver to let me off at the university. I assumed this meant that it would be easy to find the American Corner as soon as I got off.

In short, it was not. I got off the angkot and walked in the direction the driver had pointed, then stood around looking lost until a lady sitting on the side of the road waved frantically to me, pointed behind her, and said “teman anda ke sana!” (Your friends went that that way!) I must have been right behind the group of 50 or so Americans all headed to the American corner. Clearly, since I was a bule (foreigner), I would want to follow all the other bule. Not always a correct guess, but in this case, very useful. Every 50 meters of so, I would stop and look confused, and another friendly Indonesian would see me and point me in the right direction. I got there just moments after the program had started! This is only one of the ways that I have been continually amazed by the kindness of the Indonesian people. I can’t wait until the next adventure comes along and I am again able to rely on the kindness of strangers.

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