My summer started in May 2009 and has not yet ended. I was sailing in the Caribbean (and teaching English) May – August. Then I was in the U.S. for a couple weeks in August, during prime summer weather. Then I went to Indonesia, where it’s always summer. September, October, November, December – still summer. Then I spent Christmas and New Years in Australia. I normally think of those as winter holidays, but down under those are actually summer holidays. Then back to Indonesia, where January, February, and now March continue to be summertime. I’m about 3/4 done with my fellowship in Indonesia, and one of the things I have missed most during this contract is changing seasons. Ok, we did go from the dry season to the rainy season, and I hear we’ll be heading back into the dry season soon. But no matter what, it’s hot. And humid. And to me that equals summer.
While I’m at the 75% mark, here are the other things I’ve found myself missing most consistently during my 7 months living in Indonesia:
- Potable tap water.
- Mobility. I miss going where I want when I want. Public transportation is slow and involves language and route negotiations. Taxis are convenient but not good for just exploring. And arranging and then waiting for rides is sometimes a drag. I miss having my own wheels. Very American of me, I know.
- Streaming audio and video online.
- Looking up info online. Most Indonesian businesses just don’t have websites. That means I can’t look up business hours, addresses, bus/train/plane schedules, menus, what movies are playing, etc.
- Green space. Living in a city of 2.5 million has its advantages, but a distinct disadvantage is a lack of green space. I have to leave my city to get somewhere with fresh air and hiking trails and natural scenery. And the only way I’ve figured out to leave my city is by going on trips and booking tours. I didn’t realize how much I valued being able to go to a park, even for a short 30-minute walk, until it was no longer an option available to me on a daily basis.
- The four seasons.
Of course, living somewhere with continual 80-degree weather also means I can go snorkeling next weekend, which is exactly what I plan to do. Some students invited me on a 4-day trip to Karimunjawa, a collection of small islands off the north coast of Java. My Lonely Planet travel guide calls this area “one of Java’s last forgotten corners, and also one of its least-visited treasures.” I’m excited. My expectations for comfort are quite low as this is a student-planned “backpacking trip” that will involve a 2-hour bus ride and a 5-hour ferry ride to get to this remote island paradise. Our accommodations will be homestays with no a/c, no daytime electricity, and no showers (just the Indonesian-style mandi, which is a bucket of water and a scoop). But my expectations for fun and adventure are high.
And just how did I get invited on this trip anyway? The student organizing it was trying to convince her friend to go. Said friend wanted to go, but was worried about missing my writing class on Monday. Their solution? Invite the teacher along. I said okay, and re-arranged my class schedule, thereby solving the problem and making everyone happy. Expect a post on my Easter weekend adventure in the near future. If, by chance, there are no forthcoming posts on this blog, it could very well mean that I drowned in one of Indonesia’s infamous ferry accidents. But let’s not think about that. So yeah, it’s still summer, and I’m going snorkeling this weekend.