Wins and Losses
In the first days in another culture, our focus is first on the necessities and just getting by. We are trying to be fed, clothed, semi-clean, and legal! In the midst of it there are small victories and some losses that we take as learning experiences.
So, in the first week we successfully:
Figured out a ventilation system for our house (and bought fans!) so that we are not overpowered by the heat
Rode local taxis into town
Called and hired a private taxi when we needed to go off the public route
Bought a washing machine (on our own, in Indonesian!) and had it delivered to our house
Figured out how to wash with our new washer, and how to hang the laundry out to dry
Bought local SIM cards and a phone plan (on our own!)
Refilled our filtered water supply and paid the water guy
Figured out the local chemicals for cleaning fruits and veges and bought it at a pharmacy
Figured out the chemicals for mopping and mopped the entire house
Managed to buy the groceries and cook with only range and keep us fed for a week
Hired a “pembantu” (helper) to cook and clean while we are in language school full-time
Tried the local fancy import grocery store, the closest "big" grocery store, and finally found the really big grocery store that we will shop at most of the time.
Made some friends! Mita, Bambang, and Ning especially.
And then there are the losses, the times when we goof up or what we tried just doesn't work, and we have to try to take it all in stride and go with the flow.
Drove 8 hours to another town to pick up our bags, went to three different customs offices, and discovered a whole set of administrative hoops that we were supposed to jump through but didn't have the right paperwork for, and so had to return home late and empty handed, driving for 10 hours and arriving home at 5:30 in the morning. On the bright side, we did have a great time chatting with our driver!
Apparently, we used an inappropriately informal term to address our water delivery guy, and were reprimanded for it. Lots to learn about what is appropriate in the local culture!
Found that lots of Kacie's and Elly's shirt sleeves and shorts are just a couple of inches too short.
Finally got to the point where we could hang out a load of clothes to dry and were promptly dumped on by a tropical rain storm.
Finally got clothes dry after three days on the line and discovered they all smelled like mildew
Attempted to use our newly acquired taxi skills to call a taxi to get us to the language school for a meeting, but when the driver couldn't find us by address alone, our lack of knowledge of the area left him driving in circles somewhere. He finally gave up and left us stranded.
All in all, we feel like we're doing pretty well. It's overwhelming in certain moments to try to figure out official systems (like immigration or customs) without language or understanding of the bureaucratic system. It's overwhelming to deal with things like bugs and rats. And sometimes it's just overhwhelming to combine trying to figure this life out with parenting our energetic little boy and baby girl.
But it's also beautiful. It's beautiful to already be able to sit down and chat with the people we meet in our neighborhood or while we're out. It's beautiful to see Isaac managing to befriend and joke around with our driver, despite only knowing a couple hundred Indonesian words. It's beautiful to walk around our lush green neighborhood and know that this is our new normal, our place for now. It's beautiful to see Elly beaming with joy at the attention our new friends give her. It's beautiful to sit down at a dinner table together and realize that 1) we have a dining room table to sit at (for the first time in our kids' lives!) and 2) we got through the day and put together a meal!