Posted by: patriciamar | August 29, 2009

Settling In

Today, when we returned from jalang jalang (walking around), some of the other guest of the homestay were just starting dinner.  Two of the guests were new, a German woman and her husband, an Indonesian from Lombok.  Although we had only been in Kalabahi for two days, and they had been there for three, they seemed to be impressed with how we were meeting people in the village (Alor Kecil) and talking to many people already (with the help of Pak Amos).  It was a great feeling to be able to tell them a few things and feel like you are helping someone.  I think this is one of the best ways to make someplace feel like home.  Nothing makes you feel settled in like being able to teach someone about the place or help them do something.

A normal day for us in Alor is very slow, with not too much going on.

Each day, we wake up early (compared to the Netherlands, where no one starts anything before 9 a.m.).  We get up around 6:30 (even though pretty much everyone else is already up by this time).  Then we have some kopi or teh (coffee or tea) with or without gula (sugar) and Ibu makes us Nasi goreng (fried rice) with egg for breakfast.  We sit around for a little longer, waking up and getting ready for the day, maybe talking to Pak (Mr.) a bit.

Around 9:30 or 10:00, Matt heads off to learn more Bahasa Alor (Alorese language).  He goes by bemo (a little van that is like a city bus) or by ojek (small motorcycle).  It takes him about 15-30 minutes to get to Alor Kecil (Little Alor) a village of about 2,000 people where there are many speakers of Alorese.

I stay at the homestay in Kalabahi or head to the internet café.  I generally spend the first few hours of the day reading, writing, listening to music, playing solitaire, but mainly just trying to stay cool.

Lunch is around 12:30 or 1:00.  Most days, Matt is back for lunch and we eat together with the other guests.  Everyday is rice with some type of fish (delicious, fresh, tropical fish!) and cooked vegetables and sometimes a cold vegetable salad.  There is always sambal (a spicy addition to any dish) as well.  Sometime we also have a strange new fruit like Jackfruit or Milk bananas (which are those little sweet bananas).

After lunch is naptime for most everyone.  It’s like the Mexican siesta, but you don’t really have to nap.  If you don’t sleep, you usually at least sit in the shade.  This is usually the hottest time of the day, when walking two blocks will earn a cold shower.  I have more or less decided that I will be sweating for the next 22 days.  I generally shower normally once a day (with soap and shampoo) and dump water over my head in the mandi at least once more, maybe twice.  At a certain point shampoo just doesn’t seem necessary.  I’m just going to dump water over my head again in twenty minutes.  (haha).  I will add at this point, that Matt showers or rinses once a day, but doesn’t think it is nearly as hot as I do (I don’t think he actually has sweat glands).

Later in the afternoon, Matt and I usually go for a walk around Kalabahi, sit out on the Veranda and read or play cards.  Usually, Matt works on making transcripts for his recordings and continues to work on his dictionary of Alorese words during the afternoon and evening as well.  At around 5:00, we usually head into the room for a few hours to sit by the fan.  The malaria mosquitoes are supposedly out at this time of day (dawn and dusk), and we’re usually ready for another short rest by that time already.

We eat at about 6:30 or 7:00 in the evening.  It has been fun getting to know some of the other people staying at the homestay.  The German/Indonesian couple, a few local doctors, and a guy from Surabaya who is buying seaweed to send to Surabaya to make into pudding (I do not know too much about this) and cashews to send to India.  An interesting fact for cashew lovers… He buys the cashews for about 8,000 rupiahs a kilo.  This is less $0.40 cents a pound.  Quite the mark up, eh?

In the evening, we continue to work (Matt) and read (Me), and then usually hang out on the veranda and chat for a bit more Indonesian practice.

We go to sleep at 10:00 or so (although I admit, sometimes we are in bed by 8:00).  The combination of the hot weather and the new environment can definitely wear you out quickly.

On a side note, I am just decided that by the way he looks, talks, and sings, the man who runs the internet café is actually Usher.  It’s interesting who you meet.  I am pretty sure I saw Jennifer Hudson in the bemo the other day as well…


  1. Hi Tricia and Matt! Sounds like you are on a wonderful adventure! Hang in there and watch out for the mosquitos that are as big as dogs.

    The kids are all in school now, so we’re busy with play practice, football, and even some jazz band. Kim is getting started in her 3rd year at SDSU, and is in a house off campus.

    Take care!

    Rita, Kim, Whitney, and Eric


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