Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Tough Things and Things I Love


We have now been in Manokwari for three months. 

Timehop is showing me all of the same stages of adjustment to Salatiga a year ago: first trip to the open air market on my own on the motorcycle, rounds of sickness as we and the kids adjust, amazement at the beauty, struggling with the décor options for the house. I have a post I wrote and never posted that listed the things I loved and the tough things about that move to Salatiga. Much of the same things are true here, but unfortunately for Papua, a lot of the things that were a delightful return to “home” in Indonesia were new in Salatiga but as a result aren't new and freshly experienced as a part of this move. I am now used to having rice all the time again, I am used to the tropical greenery, I am used to driving a motorcycle with one rule – don't hit people. I know the products I like and the foods we enjoy.

So moving back here was actually filled with some... hesitation? Fear? The joy of returning that I felt when we got to Indonesia was a little tempered by the fact that this actually is where we stay, and I wondered – what if it didn't feel like home? What if this is really hard? I was afraid.

The first two weeks are always crazy. Exhaustion from travel, high highs and low lows as everything is new and we are unsettled and disoriented. We love some things and treasure them, the things we don't like we sit with for a few days until the disappointment fades and we adjust. We grit our teeth when we kill 40+ cockroaches on our first night in the house. We gasp in wonder at our first Saturday afternoon at the beach. And eventually....

So here we are on the other side of that transition. Sort of settled. Home! But truly it takes longer than this to actually settle. It's just the crazy transition is past. Before it fades in memory I thought I'd detail the great and hard things that have been a part of this adjustment.

Things I love 


  • Tropical rain.
  • Cool tile floors.
  • Lucious greenery everywhere.
  • A yard, with fruit trees in it.
  • For the first time ever, growing my own plants! I'm a gardener!
  • Tropical fruit … and tropical fruit shakes.
  • Fish. I love that I can buy fresh fish at the market and we can get cheap grilled fish at roadside dives.
  • A car. I love love love driving a motorcycle, but I feel much safer transporting my kids in a car
  • A car with AC! My AC didn't work most of the time in Texas, and the borrowed car we've had here didn't have any, so I am very thankful to not be sweating the entire time we're driving around town running errands.
  • Internet and data. We are surprised that both are pretty good. The week before we got here the President of the country came in and inaugurated a new below-the-sea internet line that sped everything up.
  • Pay as you go everything. This is a little strange, to where we think before we do anything on the internet, run the AC, etc, because we buy these things in increments and when they're used up, you buy more. It helps us to be better, more careful consumers. Strange to say things like, “I have to go buy more electricity.”
  • Bottled jasmine tea. Better than Texas sweet iced tea. Just good stuff!
  • Our home. I don't know how long we will be here in this home, but we could be here a long time. Having a place that is sort of actually ours (even though it's really not) and is more permanent than anything we've ever lived in before... it's quite a treat.
  • Neighbor kids. God gave us so many kids around that are little boys Judah's age. I'm super thankful for friends for him.
  • Papuan tribal culture. It's amazing to have a pig hunt happen by our house, to have cook fires and murmured village languages floating around us as we sit with students from the school. Papua is a unique place and it's such a privilege to see these cultures firsthand as they change.
  • The beach. I've actually never lived so close to the water – just minutes to walk to the coast, and a 40 minute drive across town to a stunning beautiful white sand and blue water beach. Every time we go I come back so soul-refreshed by the peace and beauty.
  • Owning my own schedule. I set the pace for the home. I plan the meals. I guide nap times and bath time and media intake and discipline. I like managing things.
  • Watching my husband do what he is gifted and called to do. His job is needed, he is so suited to it, he thrives in it. That's super cool.

Tough Things



  • Bugs. We killed around 40 roaches our first night here. We spent the first two weeks clearing out the infestation and it was GROSS. Cockroaches are my least favorite thing.
  • Rats. In our house. We got rid of two in our first week and a month and a half later had another intruder. In two nights he ate through two tupperwares, a paci, two spatulas, a cheese slicer, a three packets of hot sauce. Luckily we got him too.
  • Heat and humidity. We sweat all the time. I plan my day so that I am in under a fan or AC during the middle of the day, but that's pretty limiting. Cooking uses heat in the kitchen, and it all ends up sweltering. Making trips anywhere midday guarantees being covered in sweat. As a result I rarely feel pretty and put together.
  • The aesthetics (or, in my perception, lack thereof) of household goods. Sheets, curtains, material, furniture, decor.... they all are made for a different culture's tastes, and I just don't like the look? I long for a cute Target pattern. Paint colors, bad paint jobs, bad grout jobs, etc. All of that doesn't ultimately matter but I've been trained by my culture to love a Pinterest-worthy household scene and that's hard to give up. Oh for a Joanne Fabrics to find curtain material!
  • Shopping in so many places. There's one store in town that sells wheat bread and big bags of oats and prepackaged meat. However, I can't get a number of produce items there, so I need to make a trip to the open air market as well. But if I want chocolate chips or raisins or tomato paste, I need to go to a random store on the other side of town. There's one store that sells pork. There is definitely no one-stop shop.
  • Lack of variety of restaurants and entertainment. Like shopping, you end up finding good options but they are all spread out and hidden and it takes exploring all sorts of unlikely places to find a variety of good food. And as for a fancy-ish spot to go out on a date? There really isn't any such thing here. We are adjusting, trying to shift from American style outings to taking advantage of the unique things here. 
  • The paparazzi. The toughest thing for me. I think it's more extreme here than in Java, and it was extreme in Java. We cannot go anywhere that is public and not have people come up to pinch our kids' cheeks, try to take the kids and take pictures of them, or just stand at a distance and take pictures in general. I understand that people are just being friendly and we are unusual and interesting, but on days when we are out at an event and can't move for the crowd that forms around us, it is truly exhausting and can make me want to go and hide. My kids have reacted by now pulling away from and resisting all of this attention, and so they are perceived as rude, which I feel bad about but feel their response is totally understandable. It also is hard because I want to connect to people and really talk to them, but this type of attention can be sort of objectifying and dehumanizing, and results in less conversation and more swarming.  We want to be a part of the community, not be a spectacle.Obviously I'm still processing this, but I can't tell you how many times I've headed out to socialize and then had to head home to protect my kids, feeling defeated.

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