Archive for ‘Life in Salatiga’

January 29, 2013

New Beginnings

by Tabitha Kidwell

I went through a rough period in December. There were lots of reasons why: the excitement of my initial few months back had worn out; I was sad about missing the holidays at home; the semester was winding down, so I was busy doing the boring parts of teaching (grading) and not the fun parts (you know, inspiring young minds); the rainy season had started; mango season ended. It was a combination of all those things (but mostly the mangoes). I just felt really bored and tired of my life here in Indonesia.

But luckily the activities of the past few weeks have helped get me out of my funk and remind me why I came back for a second year and why I love teaching and living in Indonesia. First, I spent a week in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia helping to train the incoming Fulbright English Teachers. Their program has expanded in the past to years, from 12 ETAs to 75 (!) and this was the first time they had included teacher training in the program. Some of the ETAs had taught before, but most had little experience, so they were very motivated and ready to soak up any advice we gave them. They were an incredible group of trainees and were so excited to learn how to be effective teachers. Their fresh perspective reminded me how exciting and terrifying it can be to get in front of a classroom, and how far I have come since I was in their shoes. After almost a decade in the classroom, I can plan a lesson in a couple of minutes and feel pretty confident that it will go well, even if some kind of crazy discipline problem comes up. It was really exciting to share some of the knowledge I have gained, and to get fresh ideas and energy from these beginning teachers.

I left KL last Monday and flew directly to Bali, where I met my friend Erica. Erica and I met while leading the youth group at church, and we bonded over teaching (she taught high school English), running (we did the Cincinnati marathon together) and skirts (for the entire month of March 2011, we gave up pants to raise money for women’s issues as part of an event we called March is No Pants Month). We spent 3 days in Ubud, Bali, eating delicious organic food, shopping, running through rice fiends, drinking cocktails, getting massages, and climbing enormous (and very steep) Mt. Agung. Then we went to Kupang to help lead an English camp for access Microscholarship students. Access is a program of the U.S. State Department that provides extra-curricular English classes to talented high school students in under-resourced or remote areas. Kupang is a fairly big town, but its location on far-flung Timor Island makes it feel a little bit like you are on the edge of the world. The students were so fun, and Erica, who now works as a balloon artist and children’s entertainer, connected with them instantly. Now, we’ve flown back to Java, where we’re going to explore temples, paint batik, and pop into Salatiga for a little bit of work before heading back to Bali to go scuba diving.

The best part of having Erica here is seeing Indonesia through fresh eyes. She is delighted by the monkeys in Bali, shocked by the children precariously balanced on the backs of motorbikes, and overwhelmed by the huge menus of delicious juice options. She is impressed by the potted plants and neatly swept steps in front of even the tiniest houses. She is puzzled by the impulse to shower in the afternoon and amazed by the variety of options at the spa. Traveling with her reminds me of what life was like when I first arrived here, when everything was exciting and new.

After a rough December, these past few weeks have been a breath of fresh air. I have less than 6 months left here, and I feel re-energized to make the most of them! January really is a time for new beginnings!

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January 12, 2013

Finals Week

by Tabitha Kidwell

My 12 years of public schooling, 4 years of university, and 9 years of teaching add up to 25 years that my life has been set by the academic calendar – my silver anniversary! Over all those years, a few patterns have come to hold true, for teachers and students alike. For one, the first week back from a holiday is always miserable – given a taste of freedom, it is just painful to return to the shackles of the daily grind. The last week of a semester, when everyone just wants to be finished, is equally miserable, but with the promise of freedom lying just beyond that last exam.

So last week was notable because it was both the first week back from vacation and the last week of the semester. A freedom-misery sandwich, if you will. This strange occurrence happened because those two weeks I was galavanting around Bali and the Gilis were actually only my vacation – since I’m at a Muslim university, they don’t take the week of Christmas off. The Monday and Tuesday of each week were national holidays, though, and I hear not much got done Wednesday-Saturday anyways. After those 2 weeks off, I was dreading returning to work on Monday, especially given the two sessions of Speaking 3 final exam presentations and the pile of Evaluation of Language Teaching assignments that had been shoved under my office door. That first day, I ended up listening to almost 8 hours of presentations, leaving me way too wiped to work my way out from under this pile of papers:

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Unfortunately, out of foolish devotion to assessment for learning, I had promised my students that I would turn their assignments around in time for them to revise them and submit them in their final portfolio, so I graded all morning on Tuesday, only to be rewarded with this on Wednesday:

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… and again on Thursday…

Ok, I know this is the same pic as before, but  I forgot to take a new one.  Just imagine lots more folders and envelopes that look exactly like these!

Ok, I know this is the same pic as before, but I forgot to take a new one. Just imagine lots more folders and envelopes that look exactly like these!

… and a few more stragglers on Friday and Saturday.

But now, the magical moment – I am FREE! No more classes to teach, no more papers to grade. The grade book is filled out, percentages are calculated, grades are assigned. Time to breathe a sigh of relief and relax until the next semester starts in March!

Well, actually, not really. Since this is only a 10-month fellowship, we aren’t really given any vacation time. I mean, no one is really keeping track – I clearly find enough time to relax on tropical beaches. But I am encouraged to plan some kind of worthy pursuit to occupy my time during school vacations. So from now until March, I’ll be traveling all over the place. Tomorrow, I’ll go to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to help train the 75 Fulbright English Teaching Assistants who will be placed in schools around Malaysia. After that, I’ll spend most weekends in far-flung spots helping run English camps for Access Micro-scholarship students, who are part of a US State Department program that gives extra-curricular English lessons to talented but underprivileged youth. Work-related projects will take me away from Salatiga for the remainder of January and most of February. But don’t worry – I’m sure I’ll find plenty of time to chill on the beach!

December 15, 2012

Eddie George 2.0

by Tabitha Kidwell

I’ve never been a huge animal lover. Someone gave me a Hamster named Shithead in college, and he was pretty fun. I would put him in a yellow ball, let him run around, and then forget about him until someone down the hall would roll him back to my dorm room. Otherwise, dogs and cats basically just seem like little creatures that make your house dirtier and knock over glasses of water. I don’t especially dislike them, I’m just indifferent to their existence or their presence in my house.

So when I heard a loud meowing coming from somewhere near my back yard one morning, I basically just ignored it. When it was still going strong that evening, I decided it was time to investigate. I pulled up a chair to the wall separating my backyard from the backyard of the unrented house next door, and came face-to-face with the noisemaker. He looked right at me, and meowed a meow that was very easily interpreted as “HELP!”

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My theory was that the cat had climbed over the wall, then got stuck there because there was nothing to help him climb back over. I tried to call the number listed on the rental sign, but got no answer. (This may also explain why the place has never been rented!) I thought maybe he was hungry, so I opened a can of tuna and threw it over. Then I was worried he was thirsty, so I slid a container of water over the wall in the hope that it would land right side up with its contents intact. It did not. I soaked a sponge and tossed it over, thinking he could suck the water out. I tried the number again. Still no answer.

So I went to bed, but I could hear his plaintive meowing all night long. It made me think of another cat far away. My sister Katie adopted Eddie George the cat a couple of weeks after moving into our house at 222 W 2nd Avenue. She opted for a 7-month old rather than a tiny kitten, reasoning that the kittens probably got picked first. I would reason that that meant she was getting a rejected kitten that had now grown to a surly adolescent with abandonment issues. Eddie would follow Katie from room to room. When she wasn’t home, he would whine and cry would wait for her at the door. I was not a qualified substitute – he could sense my indifference to him and responded with disdain and peeing on my pillows.

Eddie was full of curiosity, but, unfortunately, the old adage did not apply to him. He had frequent emergencies, like getting stuck on top of the refrigerator, or in a tree, or on the roof of our neighbor’s 2-story house. This required rescuing by my sister or, once, by extremely conveniently located tree trimmers. And then, one September, he disappeared for over 2 weeks. Katie feared (and I hoped) that he was gone forever, but one night when I was out of town, and Katie had guests so was sleeping in my room, he returned to my bedroom window at 3 AM! Had he been waiting for me to leave so he could return in such a spectacular way? Maybe. Katie was overjoyed. I was, as always, indifferent. Except that Eddie then made it a habit of coming to my window in the middle of the night to be let in. Our house was almost 125 years old, and the ancient screens couldn’t be removed, so I had to either ignore the meowing 2 feet from my head or go let him in the back door. Sometimes he wouldn’t come down and I would have to lug out a chair and grab him. In the middle of the night.

So, I believe that somehow Eddie has deployed one of his far-flung relatives to seek me out as a reluctant feline rescuer. His friend was still meowing up a storm the next day, so I came up a plan. I took this big stick that was in my backyard:

I'm not sure why it was in my backyard...

I’m not sure why it was in my backyard…

and fed it over the wall on the other side of the house (which led to the outside rather than to my backyard), this creating a little ladder he could use to claw his way out.

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I waited a little while to see if anything happened, but then I had to go to work. I assume he escaped, because when I got home, there was no more meowing. I felt pretty good about my service to the furry creatures of the world.

Until yesterday, that is, when I heard meowing from the backyard of the house on my other side. I peeked over the wall and saw the same cat – but he wasn’t the one meowing! He’d invited a friend! There was some other, invisible cat, wailing away either inside that house or in the next one over. The house on the end is vacant, and the house directly next to me is rented, but the inhabitants live in another town and only stay there a couple of weeknights to avoid driving home after work. I assume they’ll come sometime and let out the trapped cats. Or maybe they are actually their cats, and they are just meowing because they want more tuna? Or maybe they are messing with me? I don’t know. But I think I have done all I can for the cats of the world. They’re on their own. Someone tell Eddie George to stop climbing trees.

December 13, 2012

The chop

by Tabitha Kidwell

Careful readers will remember item #67 on my uberlist back in January: Chop off hair! I wanted to wait until the triathlon was over, and since the world was supposed to end anyways, I decided 12-12-12 was the day!

This is the 4th time in my life I’ve done the grow-your-hair-really-long-and-chop-it-all-off thing. The first time was during my senior year of high school, when I my friend Brad cut it off onstage during our drama club’s skit night (in a skit totally plagiarized from Camp Akita). Brad and I played an unhappily married couple coming to see a wacky therapist, played by my friend Laura. Laura hypnotized us, then got a phone call. “Her water broke?” she said to the phone. Brad poured water over my head. “Cut it out!” said Laura, oblivious. Brad hacked off my braid and totally freaked out the audience. The second time was my senior year of college, when I returned to sorority recruitment after winter break sporting the “reverse mullet” popularized by Kate Gosselin from Jon & Kate Plus 8 – long in the front, short and spiky in the back. Half of my sorority sisters (the ones who also had that haircut) thought I looked great, the other half stood in the back during recruitment and wished they had been cool enough to be in another sorority. The third time was after the Peace Corps, when my hair was so damaged and disgusting from being dyed blonde in Africa that I had to just start anew.

So this has been a long time coming – I haven’t had more than a trim since 2007. I was so ready – I came home after class, put my hair in 5 little ponytails (as instructed on hawkslocksforkids.org) and cut them off myself:

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I felt like that would be easier than explaining what I wanted in Indonesian. I may have been a little over-generous with my hair donation, though – I cut it to about the length I thought I wanted my hair to be, unaware that the stylist would then cut like 2 more inches off. Oops. I guess it will grow. I went into the stylist looking like this:

I actually like this blunt-cut style (though it was super raggedy in the back) - maybe I'll try this in a few months when it grows more.

I actually like this blunt-cut style (though it was super raggedy in the back) – maybe I’ll try this in a few months when it grows more.

And showed her this picture of Katie Holmes:

I'm fairly sure the stylist thought this was actually me.  I didn't correct her.

I’m fairly sure the stylist thought this was actually me. I didn’t correct her.

And left looking like this:

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Though I can also do a pretty good Justin Bieber swoop:

This is also basically my brother Rickie's haircut.

This is also basically my brother Rickie’s haircut.

All in all, it’s not exactly what I wanted or expected, but I look in the mirror here about once a day, so it’s a good time to have hair I don’t love to look at. And even if I don’t love how it looks at the moment, I do love how much easier it makes my life – how much shorter my cold showers are, how I can just pop my motorbike helmet on and off, how I don’t have to move my bun around for different Yoga poses. Not too bad. Oh, and the people in my office spontaneously applauded when I walked in the next morning. They’re easy to please.

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My hair is now en route to Dublin, Ohio, where A.J. Hawks’ charity will pass it on to someone who will make wigs for cancer patients or Britney Spears or whoever. I sent it the same day I sent an expense report to Georgetown for almost $1000. Hopefully I didn’t get those mixed up! I imagine there are few things creepier than an envelope full of hair. Also, I really need that reimbursement. I have a lot of barrettes to buy.

October 9, 2012

My New Roommates

by Tabitha Kidwell

Disclaimer: If you don’t like bugs and rodents, don’t read this. Also, don’t move to Indonesia.

I may have been premature with my statement “the rains have come” last post. Unwavering sunshine is still prevailing, but I still hold out hope.

One major reason I am hoping for rain is because I am hoping it will wash away the rat family that has taken up residence in my pipes. There is basically one pipe that runs from the roof drain, through my bathroom, under my living room, and drains here:

Then everything goes into this open air sewer directly in front of my house:

Some history: one night, a rat got into my study/food storage room. I thought he climbed in through the open window, so I just closed the door, went to bed, and hoped he would be gone in the morning. It was a successful strategy and I only lost a cup o’ noodles. I thought closing the window would solve the problem, but the next morning a bag of soup mix had been nibbled on. My housekeeper told me they were probably coming from the pipes, so I constructed this:

Water can pass through, but not rats. Nice, huh?

But then I was awoken at 4 AM one morning by a rustling in the garbage in the other room. I arose just in time to see a little furry thing run into the bathroom and disappear with a clink of the shower drain. I have since started keeping a brick on there and that seems to have stopped them. I definitely confirmed that they are living there, because I saw 3 or 4 little guys peeking out of the drain hole pictured above, and I can hear their little squeaking at night. I’m hoping the rain will wash them away for good, but who knows.

Rats aren’t the only vermin to have taken up residence while I was away for the summer. I also have been killing cockroaches at the steady rate of one per day. They’re not even fast cockroaches, they just sit waiting to be smashed by my flip-flop. I wonder if they are a ploy sent out by the cockroach mafia to distract me while they are dealing cocaine in my back yard (or maybe I’ve been watching too much of The Wire?). I even killed one by accident in the door frame. It got stuck there, 3 feet off the ground, and for an entire day, an army of ants dismantled it and carried it away.

Which reminds me: ants are a problem, too. There seems to be a whole hierarchy of ant types: big, fat ones in the kitchen, medium-sized in my study, and teeny in the living room. But no matter the size, if I leave an empty teacup out for 5 minutes, they will swarm the still-sugary surface. I’m worried if I sleep too late they will begin to dismantle me like they did the cockroach.

In short, life is hard. But at least the spiders and small and the geckos are cute. And a mosquito hasn’t woken me up buzzing in my ear for like 2 weeks. So I’ll take the rats, ants, and lazy cockroaches. Until I figure out that cocaine scheme. Or until it starts to rain.

October 6, 2012

October Rain

by Tabitha Kidwell

There are at least 3 posts on my Facebook newsfeed referencing the weather in America. Snow in Colorado! Raining for the Saturday morning run in Columbus! Unseasonably warm in the northeast! We Americans seem to be endlessly amused/chagrined by the ever-changing jet stream.

When I explain American weather to Indonesian people, they are always a bit baffled. “So, it can be rainy and cold one day, then warm and sunny the next? Any time of year?” The idea that weather could change so drastically and so often is a new and foreign concept. Being that weather is basically the same here, day after day, small talk about the weather is pretty pointless. No one really asks “How’s the weather?” “How about that rain?” “Cold out there, huh?” because it would lead to the most boring conversation ever.

That is, except for right about now. The dry season has been dragging on since April and it’s just been getting hotter and hotter and dustier and dustier. People keep saying “It’s hot!” then fanning themselves ineffectively with a sweaty hand. “We need rain,” then say, and I agree. There is a drought so severe that entire dammed-up reservoirs now look like this:

And the rushing river that usually runs through the grounds of the fancy hotel where I work out now looks like this:

Though when I was there yesterday morning, it had a trickle of water flowing, making me think it was raining somewhere upstream.

Then, today as I was riding my Scoopy home from a Batik shopping spree, a drop of rain hit my face. Then another. And another. I sang an impromptu “Hallelujah” that I hope other people couldn’t hear while I was moving. I was super excited! No one else seemed to notice, though. Except the random Bule I pulled up next to at a stop light. I looked over, and she had the same silly grin on her face that I did.

“How about that rain?” she said.

Yep, pretty exciting.

September 22, 2012

“The Muslim World” and an “American film”

by Tabitha Kidwell

When I first came to Indonesia last year and was placed at a Muslim university, I wondered what it would be like to teach and work with Muslims. After getting used to dressing appropriately and learning to love the mobs of giggling, hijab-ed girls on campus, it was essentially a non-issue. Granted, Salatiga is a very open-minded town, is almost 50% Christian, and is accustomed to foreigners thanks to the many missionaries who come through here to study language. But I think most of my friends placed at Muslim institutions would agree with me – life among Indonesian Muslims is just not all that different from life among American Christians.

In the last two weeks, the issue of Christian/Muslim differences has been brought to light by the many protests around the “Muslim world” over the film Innocence of Muslims. This term “Muslim world” is fairly imprecise – wouldn’t you be offended to be lumped into the “Christian World” with no regard for your nationality, gender, age, or individuality? Muslims in Indonesia, Morocco, Bosnia, and Nigeria are a fairly disparate group, to say nothing of the 2.6 million Muslims who actually live in the United States. Reuters estimates are that less than .001% of muslims worldwide are protesting – out of Indonesia’s 200,000+ million Muslims, several hundred seem to have turned up. The protests aren’t even top priority for newspapers here, losing out to upcoming elections, forest fires, and the iPhone 5.

When I talked to my mom a few days ago, she said many people had asked if I am safe here. The answer: yes! I’ve never felt unsafe in Salatiga, and I don’t now. I am, however, more wary. I’ve received more text message alerts from the Embassy warden system in the last week than in the entire last year. The last one read:

US Emb Jakarta, US ConsGen Surabaya, APP Medan, US Cons Ag Bali, US Mission ASEAN closed 21Sep. Possible focus on US brand businesses 21Sep.

Now, I have never heard of an embassy and US mission closing it’s doors (albeit temporarily) in any country I have ever been to. But the murder of a US ambassador is also something that has never happened in my lifetime. Though I’m technically self-employed, I am here under the umbrella of the US embassy, and violence directly aimed at the US mission abroad is a scary prospect. So is random violence towards American corporations and towards anyone who seems to be American, like this Australian journalist describes. The uproar over Inocence of Muslims is a different phenomenon from anything I, the US State Department, and the global media has ever encountered before. The world will be a little bit different after this dies down; exactly how so remains to be seen.

I watched as much of the 14-minute trailer as I could stomach, and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton was absolutely right to call it “disgusting and reprehensible.” The pedophilia, graphic sex, and senseless violence would have been horribly offensive even if it had been about some random guy off the street. Given that it is about the most revered prophet of 1.5 billion people, the making of such a film is inexcusable. But a violent response towards the entire American populace because of the repugnant actions of one individual is equally inexcusable. The people who attacked the US consulate in Benghazi are individual actors who do not represent their society anymore than the man who made this hateful, insulting, and fallacy-filled film. Both acts amount to terrorism – violence (whether of thought or action) by radicals directed towards innocents and fueled by ignorance.

Which, I suppose, is where I come in. My main goal may be to improve English teaching and learning in my region, but an important side-product is the reduction of ignorance about other cultures. I meet many Indonesians who have never spoken to a foreigner before, and, hopefully, they come to realize that we are not all that different. I have a good relationship with my students and colleagues; I think I have shown them that many Americans strive to be respectful towards other religions, and that Nakoula Basseley Nakoula does not represent the typical American opinion. This morning, a colleague and I went to visit local officials to get support for several teacher training groups we are starting. I cringed inwardly every time she said “Miss Tabitha is from the U.S. Embassy,” but the response was unfailingly positive. The recipients of access micro-scholarships, the students of Fulbright English teaching assistants, and the host families of peace corps volunteers are not the people who are out in the street protesting. The “soft-diplomacy” efforts of the State Department – the people-to-people meetings and exchanging of ideas – are more important now than ever. I feel really proud to be here in the world’s most populous Muslim country, doing the job I am doing. And if I can teach a little English on the side, that’s a bonus!

Though it’s always over on the side of this page, I want to especially emphasize now that this website is not an official U.S. Department of State website. The views and information presented are the English Language Fellow’s own and do not represent the English Language Fellow Program, Georgetown University, or the U.S. Department of State.

August 26, 2012

Selamat Datang Lagi!

by Tabitha Kidwell

Coming back to Indonesia, I honestly didn’t know how I would feel. Would I be sad? Happy? Lonely? Overwhelmed? Miss the friends and family I spent the summer with? Excited to start a new year here? When I got on the plane in Ohio, I really didn’t know how it would go.

But the minute I got off the fifth and final plane of my 40-hour journey, I felt like I had come home. Even the familiar sights of the Semarang airport and the congested, 1.5-hour drive to Salatiga brought me joy! My Bahasa Indonesia started to come right back as I was chatting with my counterpart (my go-to person at the university) Bu Rini. It seemed like I had been gone for two weeks, not for over two months!

And once I got to Salatiga, it was even better! I was so happy to open the door to my house and unpack all of my new goodies from America. It was awesome to ride my scooter and my road bike, re-enroll as a member at the fancy hotel so I could use their pool, and make a pot of tea and drink it while I sat on the couch and read the New Yorker. I haven’t done too much since I got back, but that’s okay – I needed a vacation from my action-packed vacation! I’ve had to report at the immigration and police offices, but otherwise, I’ve just exercised, read, and settled in. Life is as peaceful and as joyful as I remember – actually, it’s even better. The American coffee shop down the street re-opened in a new location, and they now serve staples like burgers, pizza, and chicken wings! And the organic grocery store (I like to think of it as Pedagang Joe’s) now serves homemade bread! The sun seems brighter and Mt. Merbabu, always towering over town, seems bigger.

Ohio will always be my home – it’s where my friends and family are, and I will always go back there. But Salatiga is a pretty close substitute for the next 10 months!

June 5, 2012

Keeping up Appearances

by Tabitha Kidwell

I’ve never been an especially glamorous person. The fanciest look I can pull off successfully is “off-duty ballerina” (think scarves and buns). But I used to at least blow-dry my hair and wear make-up in America. That has all gone out the window here. I already attract a lot of attention as a tall white person here, so it just didn’t seem necessary anymore. Plus, I’m the only woman on campus without her head covered, so I don’t want to freak out everyone by unleashing my beautiful shampoo-commercial hair (ok, by that I mean my too-frizzy-in-this-humidity hair, but still). So I usually pull my hair back and wear long pants and tunic-y shirts. I usually look like this:

Nevertheless, people are pretty easy to please. I wear a ribbon in my hair and people say “Miss Tabitha, you are so beautiful.” If they only knew what they are missing out on!

But I’m worried about my upcoming return to the US of A and civilization as I know it. To fit in again, I’m going to have to really step up my game. I think I may have forgotten how. To help, I’m trying to ease back in. I blow dried my hair the other day and couldn’t stop running my fingers through it. And when I put make-up on to go to the airport for the Triathlon, I caught myself stealing glances in any reflective surface I could find: Hey, good-looking! It’s amazing what changing your outside appearance can do for your mood and your self-image. I had forgotten what it was like to feel good about your appearance. For some reason, wearing make-up or having pretty hair really did put an extra spring in my step. Let’s hope it’ll put enough spring in to let me compete in America. If worse comes to worse, I’ll just pretend I’m an off-duty ballerina. From somewhere where they wear tunics.

May 23, 2012

Triathlon Training

by Tabitha Kidwell

I came to Indonesia last August hoping to do two marathons, but then I got injured (and maybe also a little lazy) and I didn’t train for any. What I loved most about marathon training at home was running with all the fun people in my running group. It was much less appealing to train for a marathon alone here than it was with all my friends in America. I couldn’t fathom heading out for a 20 miler alone, particularly in a country where running even one mile gets curious glances. I still have hopes for the marathon next year, but in the meantime, I have discovered another sport obsession…

After next Saturday morning, I will be an official triathlete! Tomorrow, I will head to Bintan Island, near Singapore, to do my first sprint triathlon – swim 750m, bike 20km, then run a 5K. I’m going with my friend Jackie and a bunch of people from Tribuddies, her triathlete group in Jakarta, so it should be a lot of fun. I’m not too nervous about the distances or my time – I should be done around or just under 2 hours, and for this first one, I just want to finish successfully. I’m far more worried about the logistics of getting my bike there – I successfully boxed it up yesterday, but I have had to rent a private car to take me the 90 minute trip to the airport. I’m just hoping the airline will accept it as luggage, will check it the whole way through, and that I’ll successfully get it to the hotel and then to the start line without dropping a ton of cash. It’s a bit complicated, especially in this country, where everything is more complicated than it should be!

Bike transport aside, I’m really excited to get out and race! Bintan is supposed to be a beautiful island – it (like most islands in Indonesia, apparently) is billed as the “next Bali.” With just doing a sprint triathlon, I think I should do pretty well. Throughout training, I’ve easily swam much farther than this distance, I have a strong long-term running base, and I biked this distance almost weekly since getting my road bike in March. I trained pretty consistently, and I think I will be prepared. As with marathoning, the most fun part of it may prove to be the training. Doing so much and such varied exercise was a great way to fill my (ample) free time here. I got to swim, bike, and run in some beautiful places, both at home and while on the road:


Salatiga’s Ring Road, where I ran and biked while at home. Check out Mt. Merbabu!


The hotel pool where I swim laps.


The cove at Gapeng Beach, where I did open water swims in April. Doesn’t it look like a pool?


A pretty nice run on vacation on Pulau Weh!


Jackie and me after an open water swim at Pulau Seribu, near Jakarta.


After a second open water swim at Pulau Seribu!

And I got to meet some fun Indonesian people through Tribuddies when I tagged along for open-water swims on visits to Jakarta. I wish I lived in Jakarta so I could train with them full time, but what can you do? I’m looking forward to the fun weekend we’ll have on Bintan – especially after the triathlon is over and the real fun can start!