Hello family and friends! I’m so happy to report that we finally have internet at home, and we’re (mostly) settled into our new house. It’s been a very busy, very long week. So I have lots to tell you and plenty of pictures! We’ll see how many I can upload.
When I left off earlier, we had just signed the lease and were looking forward to moving in. That was last weekend. We checked out of my work’s guest house/motel on Sunday morning, with fingers crossed that we would be able to get into the house that afternoon. The owners weren’t sure they would have everything out in time.
In the meantime, LittleB had been invited to a classmate’s birthday party, taking place at the kids’ fun centre/arcade at the mall. So we went there for the party and to buy a few essentials for a night’s stay at the house. The party was crazy! Imagine a bunch of kids, filled with sugar, running crazy in a party room in the middle of a noisy arcade. And this was Asia-level noise, so you basically couldn’t talk over the screaming kids’ music and screaming kids. Also, as some of you may remember from my post about brunch in Jakarta, there is an obsession with costumed figures visiting parties. We had a rather dingy-looking Dot? I’m not even sure. And LittleB managed to clock the birthday boy’s dad over the head with his pinata stick. We’re never going to get invited back! After all the candy and a poorly managed game of musical chairs, the kids headed out into the gym zone to run around crazy.
That afternoon, we found out that we couldn’t get into the house. Yikes. Luckily, we had some very nice friends willing to put us up for the night. They’re here from England for a year, with a daughter in J’s class and a toddler boy. It was another night of crazy kids running around – thank goodness for face paints! Good for at least 48 seconds of quiet.
On Tuesday, we got notice that we could go get the photos done for our Indonesian driving licences. The secretary at work said that the driver would know where the place was, and another colleague said it was very easy – just walk in, say your name, and it’s done. Ok, that’s sounds easy enough. So we head off. Now, one complication: we don’t speak Indonesian very well yet, and our driver does not speak English. After some back and forth, and gesturing, we figure out how to tell him to take us to the police station. He drops us off at what we assume is the front entrance, but of course, as soon as we walk into this tiny room filled with smoke and two sketchy guys sitting at a filthy card table…. we figure we’re in the wrong place. Luckily, I have learned enough of the language to say “Photo??” (hah, actually it’s the same word), and they send us down the hall. The next room had a nice lady cop in it, who sent us further down the hall. Finally, we get to a hallway filled with locals and tiny kiosk windows that was obviously the right place. But now what? I furiously start translating all the signs above the kiosks, and figure out how to say “appointment” in the language. Eventually we make it to a tiny sitting room that seems to be the right place. B gets up enough courage to announce our arrival to the guys in the window. Five minutes later, we’ve been fingerprinted and photographed, given our new identities, and sent on our way. No one else was out of there nearly as fast. I think we’ve just perpetuated someone’s belief that foreigners are entitled pricks. To be fair, the waiting room was pretty horrible. Enjoy the photo!
In the middle of all this, my work had its annual meeting. This is when all the staff from the regions and here at headquarters come in for a week of brainstorming, learning sessions, and administrative housekeeping. So I had long days, lots of tasty food, and just a bit of stress! Thankfully, they know how to put on a good show. We all went to a “masquerade” party on the Friday night. It was lots of fun – dinner, drinks, African dancing! B took the kids home around 9, and let me stay out to dance the night away. I met lots of new friends, learned some interesting things, and I can’t wait for next year.
Now on to the house! We’re renting it from a rather rich family who own a lot of property in the area – in fact, the owner’s parents live right behind us (in a mansion) and the brother is next door. It’s a townhouse-style place, as in, it is connected to the ones next door, but it’s an injustice to call it a townhouse. There are two floors and a mid-level den, 15-foot ceilings, four bedrooms, two kitchens, five bathrooms, two-car garage, three balconies, and maids’ quarters. It is partially furnished with some couches and a master bedroom set, not at all our style, but in good condition. We’ve hired a housekeeper/cook, who is very lovely, and the kids already like her. We also accidentally hired out from under another person at my work, since they only had her part time… whoops! And we have a driver, because, although we have our local licences, I don’t think either of us is ready to drive here yet.
P.S. I promised you I would tell you about banana surprise. It’s exactly what it sounds: for some reason the food here is often filled with “surprise banana”. For example, you buy a normal-looking bun from the cafeteria. Inside? Surprise banana! Quite literally a whole banana wrapped up in there. Want some breakfast foods? Surprise, deep fried bananas with cheese on top. It’s become a running joke now. Everyone tells to watch out for “surprise durian” when they come into season… gross.