Earlier this month I had a week off from school as students took their examinations. With a spare week and no other plans I decided to visit some nearby PCVs, enabling me to get out of my desa and see more of West Java.
As the second year of my service begins I have made a goal to visit as many other volunteers’ sites as I can during my free time. So far some of my best memories (but also quite a few bad ones, too) have been while traveling around Java so I’m trying to see as much of it as I can this last year.
One of the more common projects Peace Corps Indonesia volunteers put together is an English Camp. Camps can differ significantly but they usually last for one or two days and include a series of short, focused English lessons. The weekend of January 21st I helped with an English camp organized by ID9 Lisa in neighboring district Majalengka.
A little less than a month ago my parents came to Indonesia to visit me. Much of my father’s career has been spent abroad, often in developing countries, so they are not unfamiliar with the conditions most of the world lives in but I was still hesitant to have them come to Indonesia.
“What do Indonesians eat?” This is a question I oft fielded after disclosing that I had accepted a Peace Corps assignment, and would be living in Indonesia for two years. Well, the short answer: rice. Indonesians eat rice. Lots and lots of rice.
The Sunday after Idul Fitri began like any other day from the past month. I woke up around five, mandied, had breakfast, and continued to read my book on the history of the United States Postal Service (it’s fascinating). At some point midmorning my host family niece (I think, the family relations are still uncertain to me) asked me something. What she asked specifically, I do not know. But she used the words ambil, ikan, and kolam. Something about taking a fish, but I couldn’t understand whether they were asking if I had taken a fish, if I would take a fish, if they should take a fish, or some other equally odd question. Eventually, and after some helpful charades, I remembered kolam means pond. They were inviting me to a pond with them to go fishing.
Ramadan is a torpid affair. Not much happens. For my cohort and me the vacuous schedules of our various schools gives us very little to do for our first month at our permanent site. All this free time is great for picking up new hobbies, exploring the desa, meeting the community, planning for lessons, or considering secondary projects to take on over the next two years. Unfortunately, I have done practically none of these things.