Sunday, September 15, 2013

Another Day, Another Adventure

"Mal, tomorrow at 6:30 AM our neighbor's daughter is coming to get you and you're going to a mountain to take pictures." Uhhh. Alright, Bunda. I woke up at 5:30 this morning, got dressed, grabbed my camera, and was out the door. My neighbor and her daughter, Fia, picked me up, and we were taken to a small house. I patiently sat on the floor, still confused as to what the day would consist of, and talked to Fia about America. Eventually, about eight other high school and university students joined us. Before we left, we had to pray for our "safety within the mountain's dangers." Now, at this point, I was a wee bit concerned. I had been told we were going to be taking some casual pictures, but all of a sudden we were praying for safety... Being the Montana girl that I am, this made me simultaneously stoked, and terrified. We all piled into two cars, and drove for about an hour to the mountain. Now, I say we drove. But to put it in the words of our driver, Rafa, "Mal, we may have to do a bit of off-roading. And this car really isn't made for that. Sorry"

After a drive that reminded me of Montana dirt roads, we had finally arrived. Within thirty seconds of walking on the trail, school girls spotted me and came running asking for photos. This was of course, no problem for the photo queen that I am. And they were absolutely adorable.
Such cute girls!

Left me speechless.
The trail first went through rice fields that were absolutely stunning. A smile spread across my face as I realized that I was back in my natural, nature habitat where I belonged.

Some of the boys on the trail
Over slippery rockslide, mud puddles, tall grass, and bugs galore, Ryan and I lead the pack. After about an hour hike, (which by the way kicked my butt considering how I haven't worked out since I got here,) we had arrived at a small, quaint waterfall. The waterfall was full of people, and despite my wanting to take a few pictures, I couldn't. I was too busy trying to cross the water on slippery rocks and not fall over and embarrass myself. After the group had crossed, we continued our hike on. After a trek up a mountain face, (I kid you not, it was SO steep,) we had found a place to set up a small camp.

While the girls took selfies, myself and the boys set up shelters. "That's so cool," they said as I started making a lean-to. (Shout out to my dad for teaching me so well!) Within a few minutes, we had a hot pink, lean-to and a hammock made out of a poncho.

Then, it was time to eat. Now, this is where the Indonesian kids really beat with me their survival skills. The girls made delicious tempe goreng on an ultralight, backpacking stove. How they did it, I'm not sure. But it was dang good, and I need to learn how to do that for when Dad and I go backpacking.

Chilling in the poncho hammock
After some dang-good food, Mallory was sleepy. So, I set down my pack, rest my head on it, and within seconds I was asleep. I considered making this part all poetic and beautiful, because really, that's how it was dozing off in the Bandung mountains. However, waking up to golf-ball sized bug bites on my hands and legs was really not that lovely. We took a few more pictures, had a few more laughs, and then we were on our way back home.

Today I had to cross a waterfall with people whom I had just met hours before. The majority of them didn't speak my language, and I spoke very little of theirs. And yet, a bond was created. We trusted each other. I trusted them to not get us lost, or push me off of a mountain, or whatever else could have happened. Being an exchange student does that you. It teaches you to trust people, because that's all you can do. You have to trust your friends at school to not teach you bad words. You have to trust your new host family that just weeks ago, you didn't know. You have to trust yourself, in knowing that you are capable of this year. And even though that's the hardest part of exchange, I think I'm doing just fine.