First 4 days in Salatiga

by Tabitha Kidwell

Training in Bandung got pretty busy so I couldn’t find any time to blog. Okay, I’ll be honest… we started going out dancing and hiking and generally having a lot more fun the third week. But it finished up well and we 55 English teachers headed off to every corner of the Archipelago. I’ve been here in Salatiga almost four days now, and it has been a roller coaster. When I arrived on Saturday, my main emotions were hunger, heat, and thirst. The fact that those aren’t even emotions shows how basic my needs were at that moment. I probably should have just sat and rested, but I’m neurotic and can’t put off unpacking, so I powered through setting up my house and collapsed into bed at 9 PM.

Despite going to bed so early on Saturday, I slept over 12 hours! I was pretty tired from the whirlwind last couple of days of training, so I guess I needed it. I slept so much that I felt groggy all day Sunday, though. My counterpart took me on a marathon shopping trip all afternoon and I was just totally overwhelmed. We popped into crowded store after crowded store to buy buckets, basins, mirrors, a mop, a fan, a hammer, nails, a SIM card, food, cleaning supplies, towels, shelves, canisters, wastebaskets, floor mats, and probably a lot of other stuff I’ve forgotten. I got almost everything I needed for my house, but again, I got home hungry, thirsty, and hot, and could barely manage to get myself into bed.

Compared to what went down on Monday, though, Sunday was small beans. Luckily, on Monday, I was well rested enough to actually process and enjoy the many victories! I was in the shower in the morning when my counterpart knocked on my door an hour earlier than expected (this is the third time this has happened despite the fact that I actually have three phones he could have called me on to let me know, but that’s okay). We went to visit the head of the neighborhood and presented yet another person with a copy of my passport. Then we went to the university for the Idul Firti (end of Ramadan) celebration. I sat through two hours of speeches in Bahasa Indonesia that I didn’t really understand, except, of course, for my own charming and witty speech. Okay, charming and witty is probably a stretch since I have the language ability of a 4 year old, but the audience loved my halting language and funny accent. It was a success if only as comic relief.

After the speeches, the rectors and deans of the university stood at the front, and everyone lined up to shake their hands like in a wedding receiving line – except, after people shook the hands of the rectors and deans, people joined on at the end of their line, so everyone ended up shaking every single other person’s hand in the room. My germaphobe self was horrified when everyone then lined up for food, but I inconspicuously used some hand sanitizer and started tucking into some goat satay and rice.

After that, stuff really started to happen: I got my schedule (4 hours a day, 4 days a week – the 16 hour workweek!), I opened a bank account (No more usurious ATM fees!), I located the KFC (food that tastes like home!), I found a scooter I want to buy (The Honda Scoopy! see photo below), I picked up my laundry ($1.20 for 5 kilos of freshly pressed clothes!), I got home and the man was there to install wi-fi (faster than America!), and I cooked dinner for myself for the first time here (my new favorite vegetable, kangkung! see other photo below).

I was flying high, until I walked outside to take out my trash and saw a rat the size of my sister’s cat, Eddie George, slinking into my gutter. Eddie George may be a small cat, but that’s still a sizeable rodent. And it wasn’t cute like Splinter or Templeton. The good news is that it might be TOO big to fit into my plumbing!

Then, to add insult to injury, I spotted this bug crawling on my bed:

It wasn’t too big, and actually bore some resemblance to bugs that used to crawl on my bed at home in the states. Nostalgia aside, this is what happened to him:

So, in the end, some ups, some downs, but overall things are going well. I feel really lucky to have counterparts who are on the ball, a university that seems organized, and (did I mention?) WI-FI IN MY HOUSE! Life is pretty good.

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One Comment to “First 4 days in Salatiga”

  1. Congratulations on all your victories and for settling in! Maybe that rat IS Templeton…he did have quite the binge at the fair if I recall…

    Buy the scooter! So fun!

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