Well I’m back in Sentani. I have a visa. However… it’s still not a work one. I’m not allowed to work with my current visa, but I am allowed to observe and consult. If you want more info on all that stuff, you can ask me somewhere that isn’t a public forum. I can stay here on this visa for up to 6 months, so this means at the end of the semester I’ll have to leave the country again and HOPEFULLY by then I’ll have my work visa approved and I’ll be all set to start teaching properly in the next school year (which starts in August here).
I had a pretty hard couple of weeks recently where things really started to set in and the culture shock hit me. I’m feeling much better this week, but the last couple of weeks were not good ones. I’ve been feeling lonely and frustrated and fed up. Everything here is so different and it’s hard to adjust to absolutely everything being other than it has been, not to mention no one I’ve known longer than 2 months. Australia is such a lucky, convenient place to live. Here, things don’t always come easy. Electricity isn’t a given, neither is phone reception or hot water, and the humidity never goes away! If you go shopping with a list of things to buy, you’ll never get all of them, and if by some miracle you manage to, you’ve had to go to 5 different shops to do it. Also, my clean dishes are often either covered in dirt that has blown in through the kitchen window during the day (it’s been super windy lately!), covered in ants that are looking for food, or I find geckos rummaging through my things. Everything in the kitchen either needs to be kept in air tight containers (cheap ones don’t do the truck, ants still get in) or kept in the fridge. I have to keep my kettle in the fridge because otherwise I have to clean the ants out of it before each use. Also, things go mouldy really quickly, so some things I normally keep in the cupboard now live in the fridge (like vegemite).
The noise is unbelievable. I live quite close to an airport and the planes taking off are very loud! If I’m watching tv I usually have to pause it while the plane takes off because I can’t hear anything else. As if normal planes weren’t bad enough there are ludicrously noisy cargo planes here that are banned in most parts of the world due to the noise pollution they create, but not in Indonesia! They’re welcome here! And you can’t close the windows to help insulate against the noise, not that you’d want to with the weather as it is, air flow is vital for not drowning in your own sweat.
It sounds superficial, but having to adjust to utterly different routines and ‘things’ is actually a big deal when it’s everything at once. I miss not being able to do the things I’m used to doing and the easiness I’m used to. It’s also hard not having my own transportation. I’m going to get a vespa style motorbike, probably not ’til June, but I think that’ll really help me feel (be) more independent.
My poor turtles haven’t been doing very well. I’m sad to say that Fran, Bernard & Manny have all died. Fran was sick when I got her, and I think she passed it onto everyone else. I still have Tina & Miranda, but they’re both sick too and it’s not looking good. I’m loathe to buy more in case they just get sick too. If both Tina & Miranda die, then I’ll look into getting some more. It’s very sad. Apparently this is very common here and everyone who has had turtles has had many of them die. They don’t seem to be well cared for in transit or in the shops here.
On a completely different note, there is this thing here called pinang. It’s a red berry that people chew. There are red spit marks all over the ground here, and it’s quite disgusting. It turns your tongue, teeth and lips bright red and looks just awful. I heard it was like a bit of a narcotic and that’s why people chew it. It’s so common here that I thought I’d look into it and see why it was so popular, and I’m rather confused… It gives you a buzz roughly equal to drinking a cup of coffee, so yeah, big deal. Also, it causes cancer, particularly mouth and throat cancer. I can’t understand why anyone would risk cancer for a buzz equal to a coffee. Just drink a coffee! I can’t tell whether people don’t know this, or don’t care.
Last Friday was my birthday! I can’t believe I’m 32. I have no idea how I got so old! I must say it wasn’t a particularly great birthday. I left Singapore at 6:45pm on the Thursday and arrived in Sentani at 8:45am on my birthday… As you can imagine I wasn’t feeling particularly awake or enthusiastic about anything. I went home and slept for a lot of the day, then at night I went over to the Thompsons’ for dinner, along with the Webbs and the Doriots. It was nice to hang out with great people and have a delicious meal together. Belinda even made me an orange and cashew cake. Yummo! I have a good birthday night, even if I had a rather lame birthday day.
All in all I’m having a much better week this week, and I’m starting to get used to life here. It’s been a hard adjustment, harder than I thought it would be, but I’m persevering. I’ve said I’ll be here til mid 2015 and I have every intention of sticking to that. I have some good people here to support me, wonderful people supporting me back home, and God, who knows everything about me and exactly what I need.