Friday, October 18, 2013

Expect the Unexpected

Expect the unexpected. Those words have never rang more true than they have during my time here in Indonesia. The past few days have been jam packed with adventures waiting around every corner, and new experiences that I hadn't expected. Starting on last Saturday. My family and I made our way to the Jakarta/Bekasi area where over the course of the day we visited both sets of my host grandparents, my aunt and her family, and my favorite, Sarah! I felt a bit like a snowman melting because Bekasi is hot. But, the day was spent with good company so it was worth it. The next morning my grandparents, siblings and I began the eight hour journey to Cirebon where we would celebrate Eid. Yes, that's right. It was an eight hour drive. As I had been plagued by a cough that made me sound like an old, sick man, and a sore throat that impaired my speaking voice, I was expecting the trip to be miserable. Despite my sickly condition, I don't think I could have felt more content being jam packed in that vehicle. To my left, I caught my first glimpse of the sea since arriving in Indonesia. And to my right, were mountains that towered above everything else. Being cooped up in the city for so long, I had forgotten how much I love wide open spaces.

Exploring the empire!
On Monday, my host grandpa told me we were going to go do some exploring. "I can tell you love to wander," he said with a smile and a wink. We spent the morning roaming around the ancient remains of Cirebon's empire that dated back to the 15th century. Being the history fanatic that I am, I was ecstatic to get to see some of the artifacts. There were instruments, weapons, and clothing that all captured my eye. After the empire, we made our way up a mountain where I was promised we would get to see some big fish. We walked into a place that had three large pools with people swimming in the them. I thought to myself, "Where are the big fish I was promised?" Much to my surprise, the fish were in the pools. And people were swimming alongside them. As much as I wanted to swim with the giant beasts, I didn't have my bathing suit. I was satisfied with feeding them instead. My grandpa then took me to what looked like a typical restaurant. I was a bit confused about why we were going to a restaurant, because we were all fasting that day. (Muslims typically fast the day before Eid, so I gave it a try. I succeeded!) Turns out we were in fact going to a restaurant. But, it wasn't a restaurant for humans. It was a restaurant for fish, where they can eat all of the dead skin on your feet. I sat on the cushion and reluctantly stuck my feet into a pool with the little fishies. The fish swarmed my feet! For those of you who don't know, I'm an incredibly ticklish person. Sitting there for an hour took all of my power to not scream like a child. But, I survived. And my feet came out as smooth as a newborn baby's.

Fish kisses!
Casual selfie with the cow
Tuesday was finally the Eid al-Adha holiday! (Click the link for more info!) Eid is a Muslim holiday where communities and families will sacrifice an animal, or in my case, five animals. After the animals are sacrificed, the meat is cut up, and put into small bags. The meat is mostly given to the poor in the community, with some being saved for the family. My Eid holiday actually took place at a Kindergarten in a small village outside of Cirebon. The majority of my day was spent with about fifty small school children following me around. This of course was no problem for me, and we had a lot of fun together! I actually taught them the cup song from Pitch Perfect. Never thought I'd see a bunch of Indonesian children doing the cup song but alas, expect the unexpected. This place continues to surprise me everyday, and I can't get enough.

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