Living in Sumatra

Time to Freak Out

I considered waiting to write until after things got better because I know they will. However, It would be more interesting to go back and look at how unnecessarily worried I was. In short, this is going to be long two months in Sumatra. I’m not so concerned that it won’t be worth it because I know it will and in the end I’ll laugh when I read back at this first post. It’s just that I’m sort of miserable right now. I have no one to vent to so here it goes blog readers I’m going to pour it on. It’s hot. It’s so hot. There is no escape from the hot. I want my mommy!!!! Waah! I have a fan in my room but if I blow it directly at myself I’ll end up with a sore throat. There is absolutely nothing to do where I’m living so I know I’ll be making frequent trips into the town of Bukit Lawang as often as possible to break up the boredom at the clinic I’m living in. I live at the Bukit Lawang Trust clinic which is a non-profit health center that was built after the 2003 floods that destroyed this town. The staff has been great. Everyone has been really welcoming so no complaints there. And no complaints about the organization itself as everything has gone as expected. The realization that my living arrangements leave me with very little to do is starting to set in though and only time will tell if I can manage to keep myself busy when I’m not teaching. On top of all of this, I’m still not 100% healthy. I have a finger nail infection that just won’t go away. Finally, the sores on my ankles healed up but now I’m stuck with this nasty crusty dried out nose from my prior cold that is getting kind irritated and gross. I’m starting to realize that these last two items are what mostly have me down right now. The heat, I’ve dealt with before, albeit not for this long of a period.

My Home at th Clinic

My Home at the Clinic

But, enough of all that. I have to suck it up and get to it because classes start on Monday and I’m the new English teacher in town. I have to put my game face on and start off my new career properly. I have quite a bit of control in how things go at the clinic and the school. There are only 2-3 classes that I am teaching each day. I can set my own schedule and even add as many classes as I want but I’m mostly going with what the last teacher set. One hour in the morning for the clinic staff, an hour and a half in the afternoons to children ages 8-11 at the school, and then back to the clinic for an adult class in the evenings for an hour. The prior teacher skipped Thursday night adult classes and moved it to Friday night so I’m just going to move that back to Thursday night so I’m teaching Monday through Thursday. This gives me a full three days to escape the clinic and get my head straight before coming back on Mondays. Even some of the staff admit they need to break away and stay at one of the tourist bungalows along the river on the weekends. I may even find myself making the five hour bus journey back to Medan for an a/c, satellite TV, room service, shopping mall, cinema, Starbucks halfway-point-reward! I think getting away from the clinic on the weekends is going to be extremely important if I’m going to make it through these two months. My only regret is not stocking my I-Pod with a few more audio books and not downloading a few more episodes of some shows to watch. But, who comes all this way for an experience like this and wishes they had episodes of The Big Bang Theory to watch? Sometimes I want to slap myself after having a thought like that. I do however have the complete seven season collection of Star Trek: The Next Generation that I could always watch.

Bukit Lawang

This is where I go when I "go into town."

It’s Not All Bad Here in Northern Sumatra

And now the good stuff. It’s not all bad here in Northern Sumatra. In fact, even as I write this I can roll my eyes at the previous two paragraphs of me whining and complaining about exactly what I set out for myself. I feel better after my venting session though so thank you for reading! As for the heat, there is a refreshing river to cool off in after my finger nail infection heals. When I step out onto the balcony of the clinic I’m smacked in the face with a misty jungle canopy and the back drop of rainforest mountains. The sounds of crickets and other jungle creatures are enough white noise to keep me asleep if I can battle the heat and actually fall asleep. Bukit Lawang is still as beautiful as it was when I first came in February and the people are just as genuinely pleasant to be around. Last night I made a point to go into town and find all my old friends I made when I was here. A few of them are still around but some have left. My Indonesian teacher Ria is a tiny little ball of happiness but is no longer waitressing the restaurant I used to frequent and according to her good friend Yanti, she is living about 25 kms outside of Bukit Lawang. I have to get in touch with her because she was a lot of fun to be around and taught me almost everything I know of Bahasa Indonesian.

I’m sort of a rock star when I walk around here. That may have had something to do with why I came back. Everywhere I go I get waves from children and adults. “Hello!!!”, “Hi Mister!” Everyone wants to talk to me and I don’t mind stopping for a few minutes to chat. Eventually I’ll have to brush some people off as I can’t possibly stop for everyone but in an area that doesn’t see as many tourists as other parts of South East Asia, I’m still a novelty. It’s pretty refreshing.

All-in-all I’m keeping my head up and taking this challenge head on. I’m currently back at the clinic and found that the balcony outside of the living areas is much cooler than inside the building so I may be spending a lot of time here, reading, writing, lesson planning and listening to music. I should get plenty of blogging done, I don’t think the teaching and planning is going to take up too much of my time so look for more regular blog updates for aw

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