Saturday, April 9, 2011

Saya calon relawan Peace Corps Indonesia.

It was a sweaty reception at the Surabaya airport last night. Sweat and bags and bags and sweat. I'd be curious to know the volume of perspiration I will produce in the upcoming years here. I sat on the bus from the airport contemplating how this could be calculated. Unfortunately, I think it would require a suit similar to the one in Dune that captured all body moisture. However, instead of reusing the moisture, my suit would need to tabulate how many swimming pools my sweat could fill.

I was reading one of the other volunteer's Lonely Planet Indonesia on the plane from Hong Kong to Surabaya.  In regard to the city housing the Peace Corps Indonesia office, the authors said something like, "Surabaya is a hard place to love." Not exactly a rousing review. I can't give it a fair shake until we actually get to spend some time outside of the hotel. That probably won't happen until after training is done since there is so much scheduled. For example, here is today's itinerary:
  • Approx 4:15am - get awoken by call to prayer, go back to sleep
  • 6:30am - Wake up, ponder for a full minute how to turn on the bathroom light w/o turning on all of the room lights, thus waking up my lovely roommate, Allyson
  • 6:31am - Opt to turn on all the lights, waking up said roommate and then shower
  • 7:00am - Check on our new hotel room pet, Cicak, seen below
  • 7:30am - Breakfast of fried chicken, rice, fruit and other delicious things that I forget
  • 8:00am - Welcome from Country Director
  • 9:00am - Fill out bank account paperwork and receive walk around allowance for use through May of 1,250,000 rupiah. We are millionaires! Only, it equals about $144 dollars, or $4 a day.

  • 10:00am - Find out training village assignments. We leave Sunday for Malang to meet our host families, and we will have language and technical training with our village cluster. In my village are DJ and Andria - a married couple from Michigan, John - a West Virginia native and long-distance runner, and Jay - a masters student studying volcanology. 
  • 11:00am - Health Presentation with special attention to the squatty potty. This was followed by breakout groups for men and women to address gender-specific bathroom issues. It gave me an idea. Someone should produce little biodegradable baggies made from recycled materials in which women could dispose of their feminine supplies. Currently, they buy black plastic baggies and throw each out individually. If you can give me some more insight or breakdown on how to produce and sell for cheaper than 15 cents for about 20 bags, have your people call my people. 
  • 11:45am - Lunch. Man, I forget, but most likely rice, tofu, chicken, soup - all wonderful.
  • 12:45pm - Safety and Security Presentation and team project to share safety concerns. Luckily, we don't have many concerns and feel pretty confident that the most we have to worry about is petty theft. Oh, and I guess the earth's seismic forces. 
  • 1:45pm - Introduction to Head of Police
  • 2:00pm - Immunizations and interview with doctor where we also got our goody bags complete with water filter and mosquito nets. Fridays are also malaria pill day. TGIF!
  • 2:15pm - Bahasa Indonesia session where we learned how to say,"I am a candidate to be a volunteer for Peace Corps Indonesia."
  • 4:15pm - All staff introduction and "Stand if" icebreaker where I learned a fellow volunteer spent some free time in Brazil volunteering at an orphanage. Yeah, this is what this crowd does for fun. Pretty awesome. 
  • 4:45pm - Indonesian dance lesson where I failed miserably in following the Electric Slide-esque moves. It also awakened the dance party junkie in me, and now I long for my next Miley Cyrus or Cee Lo fix. 
  • 5:00pm - Down time in the room checking email. 
  • 6:00pm - Dinner. Again, I forget what we had, but it was tasty. It was topped off with a juicy fruit cup which tasted like paradise when it touched my lips. 
  • 7:00pm - Walk to Surabaya Zoo and hang with staff and other volunteers inhaling some fresh motorcycle fumes. Our Security Director told us that the Surabaya Zoo used to be the largest in Southeast Asia, but it has declined since. Last year, he said, "they lost 3 komodo dragons." Hmm. Lost? I'll keep my eye on Cicak over the next couple of days. 
  • 9:00pm - Skype with Ma and Pa
  • 9:25pm - Bed
Today is another full schedule, and tonight we meet the current PCVs. Our Training Director, Betsy, wrote in our welcome letter that training "is a bit like trying to drink from a gushing fire hydrant when you’re very thirsty."  

No kidding.


  1. 1) Please send me a Cicak.



  2. Good luck and have fun! I'm a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer living in Jakarta and hopefully will have the chance to meet some of the PCVs here in Indonesia. I plan to be at your graduation ceremony in June, so we can meet then. These are exciting times - enjoy them to the fullest!

  3. Sounds good! I must warn you that we are a tad resentful toward bules who can ride motorcycles.

  4. I'm afraid I never did make it to your graduation ceremony, but rather sent my colleague Amy instead. I have been following your blog though and really enjoy reading about your experiences - keep up the good work!

    About motorbikes, I've been in a couple of ojek wrecks over the last month or so, so am sticking to walking to work these days - it's a whole lot safer.

    Have fun!