Monday, November 11, 2013

Mallory the Explorer


Mallory the Explorer. Since coming to this country that’s the nickname I have been given. I’ve also been given the nickname of Barney Stinson but, that’s another story. Over the course of the last few days, I’ve had some experiences that really allowed me to live up to that title. 

Last Saturday I skipped school and crashed an Indonesian wedding. How many people do you know that can say that? Early in the morning I met up with Agung, (My Bahasa teacher/Adventure partner,) Bre, and one of Agung’s friends, Fiko. The day started on a high note, with the sun shining and a clear sky you could see through for miles. 
A quick lesson on Indonesian weddings: Typically, there are two types of ceremonies. In the morning, there is an event for close family members in which the couple will become married by law and by religion (Apparently these are two separate things.) 
Because the first portion of the wedding is reserved for family members, my three friends and I weren’t allowed into the mosque where the ceremony was being held. Luckily for us, the mosque was built of windows and we could see the whole ceremony as we stalked around outside. There are a few special rituals where the husband makes a promise to the wife’s father, (talk about intimidating,) and everyone prays together. Once all is said and done, the bride finally enters the mosque. My BREATH WAS TAKEN AWAY. Completely. She was the MOST beautiful bride I had ever seen. She was dressed in an all white gown that made her look like a real-life princess. Bre and I joked that we were at the Royal Family’s wedding. After she entered, the couple signed some papers to become married by law. The two then stood, joined hands, and the husband kissed his new bride on the forehead. It. Was. Precious. So precious in fact, Bre cried. The first portion of the wedding ended, and we offered our congrats to the new family, where we were then invited to the second portion of the wedding. Officially.
With the bride and groom! Just stunning.
The adventure squad and I headed over to the wedding reception which was to take place at a Butterfly Garden. We arrived to the sound of traditional, Sundanese music and a large herd of guests. I’m not entirely sure what was happening but at one point people were throwing candy and money at everyone, so that was fun. Next thing I knew, there were traditional dancers, and more music, and we were escorted into the actual venue. For the second time that day, my breath was taken away. The decor was flawless, boasting shades of red and gold. I don’t know who their wedding planner was but, someday they will plan my wedding, too. The next few hours were spent eating. Like, actually. We ate for hours. There was a never ending supply of food at stations located around the venue. And let me tell ya, it was alllll delicious. Now, I’m not confirming or denying anything but... I may or may not have eaten six cups of ice cream in less than a two hour time period. After taking lots of pictures, and having many people take pictures with US, the adventure squad decided to move on to our next adventure: The Butterfly Garden.

Kupu-kupu cantik (Beautiful butterfly)
Adventure squad in awesome hats!
So in short, our Butterfly Garden Adventure consisted of frolicking through super hot greenhouses with beautiful, little butterflies. We had a tour guide that was the doppelgänger of Nelson Mandela. And I was brave enough to touch lots of strange caterpillars. We also go to wear some stellar hats.

Myself and students!
Moving on to Sunday, Baya and I had an early morning church service. Following that, we made our way to an orphanage/school where the ITB chemical engineering students were doing community service there. We were a little bit late, so when I arrived late, I had to go in front of 100 or so students to introduce myself. The rest of the morning was spent talking to kids, and making different foods. The highlight of my day? One girl looked to me with a shy smile and said, “Your Bahasa is very good!” Let’s just say I almost cried and I wanted to write that girl a thank you card and name my first born child after her. Though my Bahasa is nowhere near where I want it to be, it was a much needed confidence boost.

Found some cute kids in the caves!
Some of the coolest kids you'll ever find
Tuesday was the Muslim new year, so my school wasn’t in session. I was very much looking forward to a day off so I could explore my little heart out. However, the night before, I woke up around twelve to some lovely, stomach pain. Let’s just say that my evening wasn’t too great. Agung had planned yet another adventure for the holiday, and I was invited. Even after a sleepless, sick night, I couldn’t resist. What I didn’t know about our day’s agenda, is that we would be hiking/climbing. We arrived at the mountain and were greeted by a herd of monkeys. It took all of my willpower to not pet them all because APPARENTLY that’s not hygienic. Or safe. We spent six hours climbing, hiking, and scaling through limestone caves, stone gardens, and a few peaks. Even though I was out of breath for the majority of the day, even though a few hours before the thought of leaving my bed seemed impossible, and even though it was 1,452 degrees with 157% humidity, I couldn’t have felt any happier. In the infinite beauty that is Indonesia, I was gently reminded of just how incredible/adventure filled/literally breathtaking my life can be. As I sat with the adventure squad in a small, satay restaurant later that evening, I couldn’t help but think just how great of a reminder that is.