It’s come to my attention that I’m perhaps giving the wrong impression of my life and/or finances. I’d just like to try and clear things up for anyone who isn’t clear on what life is like for me these days.
It’s been a difficult transition to a very different life. Not only have I had to move to a new location, but also a new culture and a new language. To add to that, most of the western culture I am exposed to is American, which may not seem like a big deal, but it’s definitely a shift from what I’m used to in lots of subtle ways that all add up to being a bit of a challenge. I spent the first 3 months wanting to go home every single day. I’m ok now, but it wasn’t easy to begin with.
I am used to being a strong, confident, independent person who is in control of her own life. Now I have to abide by cultural norms that I don’t always agree with and I have to limit my freedoms in order to stay safe. That has been a big challenge. One of the things I adored about being in Brisbane the other day was not having to think about my physical safety, it was truly liberating! This isn’t a theoretical concern about safety either, it’s a very real problem that I have to deal with.
It’s been a fine line to walk, trying to be honest with my struggles, and not wanting to come across as a whinger who gets annoying. I want to be honest about how life really is in Indonesia, but I also want to share the good things.
I have met some wonderful people and I really enjoy my job. I have loved getting to know new people and seeing the wonderful and dedicated way they are committed to both the people and the work here. There are lots of incredible stories to share about what goes on here, but alas they are not mine to share, although with permission from others I might start passing some of them on so you can get more of a picture of things here.
On the other hand, life is hard. Basic supplies are not always readily available, people are constantly sick from some sort of tropical something (although thank goodness I’ve only been mildly sick!), you can’t drink the water, you have to wash your fruit and veggies with potassium permanganate because otherwise you’ll get sick, there are black outs pretty much every day, the noisy airport drives me insane (as does the noisy wildlife), the traffic is insane, almost everything is unreliable, I can’t buy the foods I’m used to (which creates some challenges as a vegetarian), the internet doesn’t always work and is terribly slow when it does, my phone doesn’t work either, and I have such a language and cultural barrier that it’s hard to live my life the way I’d like. Ok, I’ll stop complaining now.
I know I tend to post lots of pictures of beaches and gorgeous sunsets, but that’s because they’re so pretty! I certainly don’t spend all my time at the beach and it’s a bit of an undertaking to get there because the roads are so atrocious. In fact roads is a very generous term for what they are. A friend here described them as ‘places where there aren’t any trees’, which is probably a better description of some of them! Sentani is a beautiful place, but it’s also a place filled with poverty and lots of social issues. There is rubbish everywhere, the buildings are run down, and everything seems to be in a constant state of reconstruction. It’s been a huge adjustment just getting used to the different physical environment let alone everything else.
I don’t live on a whole lot of money in Indonesia. Things are very cheap so it doesn’t cost a lot to live there, but I also don’t indulge in many things so I am able to live off a small amount. The financial support I have been receiving is just wonderful and I am truly thankful and grateful to those who have decided to partner with me in this way, however I am still under supported and the money I am filling that gap with is fast running out, and in 6 or so months it’ll be gone, so that is a concern of mine.
Having said that it might seem odd that I am currently in Vanuatu. I am not on holiday for the sake of being on holiday. I had to leave the country for visa reasons. To get a new visa I have to leave and re-enter on a different one. The original plan was to go to Thailand because it’s close and cheap. A couple of my friends from Australia were going to come and meet me there so we could see each other and have a bit of a holiday. Another reason I was happy to go overseas is that an awful lot of people (mostly teachers & families with students) leave Sentani over the big school break (June to mid-August) and go back to their home countries, so there aren’t many people left and I wouldn’t be working so I’d get rather bored.
Once the coup in Thailand happened we decided that it wasn’t a great idea to go there. These things can escalate quickly so we had to find a new place to go. We picked Vanuatu because it’s also close and we thought it’d be relatively cheap. We were mistaken on that point. Sadly Vanuatu is not a cheap place to holiday. We’ve been doing everything on the cheap here, not going on any tours and doing it all on our own. I’m trying to spend as little as possible really.
Once I looked into flights to Vanuatu I realised that I couldn’t get here without going through Brisbane! This means it’s going to cost hardly anything extra to come back through Melbourne and visit! I had no intention of coming back to Australia so soon, but it’s a wonderful surprise! I plan to spend most of my time freeloading off my parents. Hi mum and dad! 🙂
My friends had already gotten their leave from work approved by this point so it wasn’t fair of me to bail on them once we’d started planning our trip. In hinds sight I should have just come to Australia instead of going to Vanuatu first, but it was too late to cancel on my friends.
I haven’t spent a cent of anyone else’s money on this trip, it’s all coming out of my own pocket (my savings account is being drained a fair bit for this visa run). All the financial support I have received is going to support me while I live in Sentani.
I hope this clears things up a little and lets you know why I’m doing what I’m doing.
I hope to see some of you next week in Australia!
(I’d love to have attached some photos here, but they won’t upload)