Finding my way in the rice paddies of Indonesia and my quest to learn the gifts of caring, giving, serving, and loving. All images are my own original photos.
The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps.
Riding my bike home I saw what looked like a tiny ancient lady struggling to get over the lip of the canal and onto the road. It was a steep little trail and I was worried she was stuck. So I stopped my bike, turned around and went to ask if she wanted help. She just squatted there and smiled the sweetest smile and laughed strangely. Then I realized she was going to the bathroom. I said sorry and realized that sweet smile was asking if I was freaking nuts! Haaaa! Not embarrassing at all! Oh so much to learn, so little time...
Ya gotta love that moment when you are shown to the bathroom and its a little hole in the base of the wall you have to poop next to and the swish it down after. So yeah I was doing my thing in the barely private mandi with holes and windows in every wall. My friend and her Mom were outside one wall while I was having a rather noisy episode pretending that no one could hear when my friend starts talking with me in between bursts. K, it's all part of the human body function and no one here really cares so I go with it. Then randomly after all that she asks, "My friend, do you want to tooth your brush?" "No thanks..." I was not sure what the connection was but I realized after I finished that I had used the wrong room and there was actually a different room with an actual toilet that I should have used. I saw a pile of toothpaste on the wall of the room I had just desecrated and realized that I just shat in the toothbrushing room. Aduuu! Will I ever outgrow these awesome faux pas? Now they can probably never brush their teeth in that room again. I bet they burn it down and just start over. Sheesh.
Well I'm awake now! Got up to go to the bathroom and the bat swoops over my head even though I made noise trying to give it a chance to fly off BEFORE I stepped out. After the bathroom, I start back up the stairs and a rat runs along the wall beside me and hangs precariously on a small wire over my head so I run of course. I get upstairs and grab my water bottle for a calming gulp but a lizzard flies off it at me. Sheesh!
I went into a spa today to celebrate my God given right to a day off (I mean, why merely observe the Sabbath when you can CELEBRATE it!) asking about options. Two rather fit and muscular fellows and one dainty spa lady are there to answer my questions. At the bottom of the menu I see "V fogging...." Hmmmm what is this? The lady tries carefully and discretely to explain without explaining. "It's to purify, to cleanse." She says not meeting my eye but smiling. Well I am just a brute and can't really take a hint so I push on of course. "Oh I see. Skin purification." Nope. We all go around for a few minutes with me trying to guess what the heck this place offers as I am getting a bit frustrated. Sheesh just tell me already! Finally, one of the nice helpful fellows says, "vaggeeeena." "Aaahhh. Thanks... I am sorry." I say to the poor very uncomfortable lady. I ended up getting a head massage. Probably safest.
Zee Doggie Style
Just finished a three day backpacking adventure up Gunung Rinjani on Lombok. A favorite moment was when the group I was with had just hiked down into the crater to swim in the lake and this French Canadian man proclaims proudly "I am really good at zee doggie style." Only the Englishman and two BC girls and I stopped dead silent in the water and stared at him to see his huge smile and little doggie strokes. Then busted out laughing and explained the different idioms.
God Bless my parents for naming me Jamie. I get such a sick twisted pleasure in telling non Americans my name. It's like saying I'm Fred in the states. I literally can't wait for the moment they ask so I can call them on their attempt at a straight face. One bartender just told me he is "used to all sorts of weird names on these islands." He just met a guy named Dikvajij, which tops my previous favorite Fahkmi... I will let y'all infer and if you don't get it Grandma, that's perfectly ok. Thanks Mom, and I don't mean that sarcastically. You know how much I love this kind of humor.
Don't pee on your feet
You know something? It's really hard when you're peeing in a squaty potty in the middle of the night and a tree frog randomly jumps out of the mandi onto your shoulder, not to miss the hole and pee on your feet...
Escalators are hard
How's this for AWESOME! I was leaving The Ranch food court in Surabaya when I realized I had left the umbrella that the hotel had lent me on the table. Well I of course can't afford the $4 to pay for it and I was already on the down escalator so I flipped around and started leaping up them to the dismay of an Indonesian man about to board. He so wisely said, "careful!" Things are going well when I lose my balance and start to stumble. The top is so near so I make a flying leap for the non moving platform. Next thing I know, I am lying there on my back, my butt being battered by the stairs continuing to carry those who actually want to go down, down. As I am laying there I look up at the poor man standing there who is completely shocked and keeps repeating, "Oh! oh! Sorry Oh Sorry!" Of course everyone is staring at me and its so ridiculous that I can't stop laughing and I am sure they thought I was insane.
Yes it hurt and I have some teeth marks and bruises in really weird places. Don't try this at home because it takes some awesome ninja super power skills. Good thing I have them. Happy Peace Corps.
Ok so I have to share this little story about Malaysia (can't go anywhere without something happening). I don't think it would be fair to post a photo with this one...
Anyway, I booked a room at a hostel my friend Ally had suggested and when I arrived we were disappointed to find that I was assigned to a different dorm. Whatever, I went upstairs to a stuffy and a bit smelly dorm compared to Ally and Cassy 's (who I just met) dorm. Then we all went out for a night in the city to experience real IPAs!
When I returned to my dorm, rather late, it was to a man standing naked in front of my bed about to put pants on to go to the bathroom. "Europeans," I thought. He apologized and with an exaggerated eye roll I climbed into my bunk.
The next morning I got up quite early to see Chinatown and noticed it was all men in my room. I stepped outside and read the names on the door and then it hit me. Jamie is a man's name in the rest of the world. I was booked in the guys dorm! The booking said mixed dorms so I thought nothing of a naked dude in my room at first. I bet that French guy was more embarrassed than I gave him credit for. He he he. That really explained the locker room ambience. Fun fun for this girl!
Flashing the Neighbors
Well I am not sure how to even start this story. I had just gotten out of the mandi (bath) and was changing in my room when I realized that the blasting wind felt exceptionally windy. I turned around to realize that my window had blown wide open, despite the fact that it takes two hands to force it shut, and I was flashing all the neighbors...
I am not really sure how this will go over. On one hand, a tank top is completely inappropriate outside of the house but on the other hand old ibu ladies sit around topless like the old days. I am just hoping to be blown off like the ibus. Ha ha ha. I just don't know what other messes can possibly be waiting. I mean sheesh, I only have two weeks left in my village!
I love when I go out shopping and forget that I have zit cream on... No one says a word anymore... I am that ridiculous on a regular basis I guess. Haaa ha ha. I will definitely have some readjusting to do back in the States... Like looking in the mirror more than twice a week.
Oh man I wish I had a photo for this one. I found the little kitty playing with a plastic bag in the kitchen of what I thought was stolen food. I picked it up and realized it had animal parts in it. As I looked closer, I realized it was a whole lizard as long as my forearm. Wow! Then I saw it was breathing and wasn't sure what to do. I snipped a hole in the bag so it wouldn't suffocate. If suffocation was some rare decadent way to prepare the meat, I couldn't go along. I texted my Bu for permission to throw it out which for me means let it go. So I walked to the balcony and as I started to open the bag he came to life. So I accidentally dropped it on the neighbors roof below just out of reach and not open enough for him to realize he was free. Darn it... I got a broom and dangled by my ankles from the balcony to reach the bag to open it. Success! Except then the monster ran straight up the wall for me!!! The cat and I both screamed and ran. We whipped back around at the stairs to see a green orange spotted head and an ancient cataract covered eye leering over the railing at us. I slammed the door and am now counting on the shyness of those lizards to keep us at a distance. Hope they aren't poisonous... Why put it in a plastic bag laying around the house?
I think this is it...
I decided to brave the worst of the rain this afternoon because I was just going across the street to a little coffee place. It was really raging and the streets were flooded so, armed with my umbrella and my pants hiked up, I sauntered out to the shocked expressions of the hotel staff. "Whatever, I've been doing this for two years." I waded through the parking-lot-lake and saw the edge of the sidewalk, which for some reason, water was raging along like a river but that's normal. As I stepped up onto the sidewalk, I found myself suddenly waist deep in the gosh darn SEWER... Is there enough scrubbing one can do? Luckily, it was raging with rain water and was only up to my waist so I wasn't swimming in it! The funny thing is that when I turned directly around to re-enter the hotel, the response to my drenched clothing was, "Yeah, it's raining, Miss!"
I just squeaked my way up the tile stairs to a hot bleach shower.
The Vagina Massage or V-Ratus
Well Curiosity finally killed the cat...
I just HAD to find out what exactly a vagina spa massage was here in a place where people are worried that a tampon puts your virginity in jeopardy and you could lose your job or be kicked out of school if you are found not to be a virgin. I knew it couldn't be what it sounded like to my American ears.
I was super nervous because I could never quite get a clear explanation as to what the V-ratus entailed. As I lay there with my pants still on, I asked myself how far my curiosity would let me go on this adventure. I kept hoping someone would try it and report back to us but I realized no one in their right mind was going to go there so it was up to me.
Here's what I found out. First you bathe and freshen up. Then your pants stay on but things go in the general direction to what it sounds like though it's nothing sensual of course (thank God). You end the treatment by sitting on a box with a hole in it. There is a smoldering brick inside that is exactly like what you smoke in the sheesha pipes and you just sort of sit there and read a magazine while you fumigate for half an hour.
I am not really sure what the health benefits may be... You have lymph nodes in the general area so massaging and warming them is probably cleansing but that's all I can think of as far as why you would do it. I do feel refreshed but that may be the actual body massage and ear candles that I had done first. Or the wine Margit and I have been enjoying. Well, anyway, if you see "V-ratus" on the massage menu, now ya know what yer in fer. Happy New Year 2566!