Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bursting the Bubble

In Kenya, most people said that Rosslyn was a bubble. Especially those of us who lived on campus were quite insulated from normal Kenyan life. We could go for days on end and basically only come in contact with Rosslyn students and teachers and parents. A 5-minute ride to Village Market for groceries or a movie rental hardly changed things at all. Village Market was not exactly a Kenyan experience.

In most ways, we have moved from one bubble to another. The Rosslyn bubble has been changed for the Lippo Village bubble and let me be clear: the Lippo bubble is a double-layered, hard-coated silicone bubble…it’s not easy to pop. We’re going to have to do some real work if we expect to get to know Indonesia and Indonesians.

And so we thought we’d break out of the bubble a bit during this holiday break. Do some traveling. Do some exploring. The following narrative and accompanying pictures will testify to our total failure. While we geographically ventured a few kilometers out of Lippo, we more or less took our bubble with us.

Our first few days of vacation took us to the coast. It was a 2 ½ hour drive on mostly smooth roads in an air conditioned car. The end of Ramadan holiday is sort of Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Years all rolled into one. It’s big stuff so the rates for most things skyrocket. Several of the nice hotels at the beach would have cost us over $200 a night. Instead, after little internet surfing I found a budget place near the beach for $35 a night. Then, a 15 minute car ride takes us to the nice, expensive beach hotel where you can pay a small fee ($15 for our family) and use their pools and showers and private beach during the day. Love a good deal.

Next stop on our “breaking the bubble (but not really) tour” was Kidzania on the sixth floor of a fancy mall in downtown Jakarta. Kids spend the day learning jobs, making Kidzos (play money useful in Kidzania), and then spending their Kidzos. The picture of Kayla with the baking hat on was when she was learning her Biscuit Factory job. Kidzania was followed a day later by Waterbom, similar to water theme parks all over the States. In fact, it was hard to remember where we were. Bubbles all look alike, I guess. Interesting to see the few “modest” Muslim girls who wore the full bathing suit covering including over the head. That was about the only thing that added a different look to this bubble.

After all that travelling and activity, it was time today to do something close to home. I took Hannah out golfing and you can see from the pictures that the course is as beautiful as the players. Fees are usually around $23 and a caddy will be $10 for 18 holes. The great thing about this particular golf course is that it is a 4-minute drive from our house. A couple of other random photos you see...a typical breakfast for Hannah and one of our least favorite shopping stops: the aptly-named HyperMart.

Sorry. I know this is boring, uninspired writing. My mind is on holiday.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Today I write about where we spend 95% of our time: at home and at school. The pictures show a bit of our neighborhood and home from the outside. A very, very, very quiet and small neighborhood located right next to the school. It's a 5-minute walk from doorstep to "sign in". I included a picture of how we sign in each day with our James Bond fingerprint system. Kinda weird and techy.

As you can see, homes are close to one another with very little yard space. Comparatively, we have quite a bit. Since we have one of the older neighborhoods, we enjoy lots of trees which keeps the temperature down in the houses. Our little neighborhoood street enters onto the boulevard which you also see pictured...a pleaseant little tree-divided road that passes in front of our school.

It's relatively easy to tell time in our neighborhood or I should say it's easy to tell when it's 5:00 am, 9:00 am, noon, 3:00 p.m., and 6:00 p.m. as we hear the Muslim call to prayers from several nearby mosques. It's not a particularly "pretty" sound through the loudspeakers but at the same time it has a certain exotic appeal and is a daily reminder that this isn't Kansas, Dorothy.

Our school campus is large and well-maintained. You can see a portion of the soccer pitch in one of the photos. Immaculate, soft lawn. What a contrast to the Rosslyn rock-hard termite mounds. I don't know how our Rosslyn teams survive injury or play so skillfully on that field! One pool is an 8-lane, 50-meter pool and the other one is a "fun" pool with kiddie area. And the GREAT thing is that both of them are warm enough for me to swim in regularly. For those of you who know me well, you know that means they are so warm they are almost hot. Enough for today. Thank you for reading.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Visit to the beach

Just got back from three great days at the coast. Everyone warned us ahead of time, "Don't go! Not now! With the Idul Fitri holiday the traffic will be terrible, the hotel rates sky high, and the beaches crowded."

The roads were deserted, we found a really cheap place, and had the beaches to ourselves. So much for the expert opinions.

It was a 2 1/2 hour trip from Karawaci to where we stayed at the coast. But, unlike Kenyan pot-holed roads and our Kenyan air-conditionless van, these roads and our new van made the trip seem like a 20-minute dream. Great weather and great waves has Rebecca saying we should drive over here once a month. We'll see.

Looking forward to another week and a half of holiday. Will try to photos of the neighborhood, house, and school in the next couple of days.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

It's About Time!

We have been living in Indonesia for two months now and are finally getting around to setting up a blogspot to keep family and friends updated on how this new move is going.

It's going about the way we expected and about the way we hoped. We expected there to be many adjustments and challenges. After seven very satisfying and rewarding years in Kenya, new opportunities and experiences were welcome. So, we are adjusting to a new culture, new school, new church, new climate, new daily schedule (classes begin at 7:00 am!), new foods, new neighbors, new friends...well, you get the idea.

My new school is quite different than all the other schools in which I've worked. Actually, every school has been quite unique and I like to think that each one has been just the right place at just the right time in my life. So far that has included schools in Midland, Michigan; Santiago, Dominican Republic; La Paz, Bolivia; Tampa, Florida; Nairobi, Kenya; and now Jakarta, Indonesia.

What's different about this place? It's bigger than all my other schools. We have over 1,000 students. It follows the International Baccalaureate program. Almost all of the students are Indonesian. Uniforms for students and uniforms for teachers. Very steep tuition fees. Half of my staff are Indonesian.

Our new home is quite different than all the other homes in which we've lived. The neighborhood actually looks like a little gated community that you'd find somewhere in South Florida. Hopefully in the next week I can get some pictures uploaded. We're heading to the beach tomorrow as the school heads into a 2-week holiday, courtesy of Ramadan and starting the school year in mid-July. So, we are just finishing nearly 2 months of school and the Eid (Muslim holiday) begins early next week.

Pictures and updates will be forthcoming. Thanks for reading.