Happy Birthday Mommo, Mom, Cynthia! Today (for most of you;
yesterday for us) is a milestone birthday for Mommo – more than 29, fewer
than 76. I’ll leave it to her to narrow it beyond that. We weren’t able to
connect on Skype, so we used my handphone. What we used to call cell
phones are here called handphones, or simply “hah-pay,” which is the
acronym as pronounced using the Bahasa Indonesian alphabet. Because it’s
taking a long time to set up a flat, monthly handphone rate, we still have to
buy pay-as-you-go “vouchers” or “pulsa.” These are sold everywhere – in
grocery stores, in malls, but mostly in the small, open-air huts that are
scattered along many streets. I had more than 80,000 rupiah (roughly $8)
left on my card when we called Friendswood, but it only took about eight
minutes to eat through that. We were unceremoniously disconnected.
Sorry, Mom. Happy Birthday some more.
To mark the birthday, we’re getting a big surprise. The surprise is that our
shipment is expected to arrive at the house today. We’ve heard of many
folks who had to wait three, four, even six months for their crates to come
in from Texas, so we are pleased with our seeming good fortune. Mind
you, it’s not in the house yet, and we don’t know what shape things will be
in, or what percentage of our household goods may have struck the fancy
of the customs inspectors. As such, I’ll temporarily retract my remarks
about good fortune.
We’re also pleased that it’s arriving on a Friday, giving us a weekend to
sort through things together. That said, Alissa and I won’t get much done
this evening as we’ll be away at the fancy, masquerade ball hosted at one
of the large, multi-star hotels by the Australia-New Zealand Association.
My custom-made tuxedo is nearly ready; I had a fitting yesterday, but one
of the sleeves was shorter than the other (or one of my arms is longer).
And I bought the obligatory shiny, shiny shoes yesterday, as well. It took
a bit of shopping before I found a store that could accommodate my size
I went on a delightful two-hour hike up in the mountains earlier this week.
Unfortunately, a two-hour hike in the mountains requires about seven
hours in total, including two hours of driving each way and another hour
for lunch. But it made for a pleasant day in the company of about a dozen
ladies from Australia, New Zealand, the U.S., and Denmark. This day hike
was also organized by ANZA (the Australia-New Zealand Association). It
was a great pleasure to get out into the countryside. Jakarta can feel a bit
closed-in at times, and we must make a point of leaving the city
occasionally to exercise our distance vision. The drive offered many such
opportunities and featured vivid, green vistas of mountainside tea
plantations and the terraced rice farms. The air was, of course,
considerably cleaner and slightly cooler. Without the protective layer of
smog and yuck, I came back with a mild sunburn after only two hours out
Arianna has joined the track-and-field team and now practices three times
a week. This afternoon will be her third practice and today’s time and
distance trials will help determine which events she will pursue. I’m also
supposed to go to a meeting this morning to learn more about the middle
school’s international travel club. One of the bullet points from the flyer
about their first trip states that the fee covers, “all domestic transportation
in China, including private coach, bicycle, plane, boat, train, and
rickshaw.” That seems to take care of the non-animal means of transport I
can think of. We’re not yet sure if we’ll send her (even from over here, its
not cheap), but it would be a helluva trip, including stops in Hong Kong,
Guilin, Yangshuo, Xian (home of the terra-cotta warriors), Beijing, and, of
course, the Great Wall. It would also mean she would be away for all of
Fall Break, when we were considering returning to Bali.
Annaliese is designing and creating the costumes for the high-school
musical, ‘Bye Bye Birdie’ (described as “like ‘Grease’ but without anything
catchy or memorable about it”). I believe the original intention was for her
to act as assistant to a woman, but the woman’s knowledge of the
appropriate era is limited by the facts that she was neither in America nor
alive for the 50s (think Indian accent: “Oh… so dis is a pudle skut”).