Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A day on the road

Alternative city transportation
Wednesday, November 19

By Wednesday, we've had two days of language school about "transportation" and "asking for help." We are happy to have a cultural day on Wednesday.

On the way to school, the first angkot driver pauses for 10 minutes at the side of the street to fill his minivan with passengers. The second one pretends he's almost ready to leave when we board, rocking his foot on the gas occasionally. He drives a block or two after 10 minutes and stops again for 10 minutes. He shows no sign of moving. We are now late and just a few streets from where we transferred.

Finally a young man says to us, "Better to walk!" and scrambles off the bus with us. We hand the driver the lowest possible fare (20c) and begin a fast walk toward school.

Ojek drivers (motorcyclists) wait at intersections for passengers
We flag a third angkot after walking a mile. This driver is on a mission. He passes everyone. Zipping along, he has us at the school entry in no time. The "sitting duck" driver never passed us on our 20 minute walk. Perhaps he's at the corner still.

Our van with students and two gurus head up the side of a mountain to Lembang, the local gardening district. The streets are narrow, crammed on either side with booths that hide the storefronts behind them. "It's too bad for the store owners," Josie notes. "No one can see their store because of the stalls draped with plastic (tarps). So ugly."

The class in front of the DIY tofu instruction board
She points out the "rabbit district," streets lined with rabbit cages. "You can buy them for pets or food."

Our first stop is Tahu Susu Lembang, where milk-and-soy tofu is made. We beat a group of 100 other tourists into the factory. Good thing. "We are fully booked for tours today," they had told the teachers. But they let us in and show us around.

Soybeans are soaked for four hours before being drained, ground up, and boiled in clear water for an hour. The huge vats of water are just heating up as we arrive. The gas burners roar under the tanks."You've come too early to see it cook," we're told.

Delicious product! Fried tofu.
After the soy cooks, milk is added.Then the tofu-in-process curdles in a vinegar broth before the water is poured off and reused. The curds are pressed and molded in pans, cooked 15 minutes in salt and garlic water - with or without turmeric for "white" or "yellow" tofu. The blocks dry on shelves near an electric fan.

Flies cruise through the air and land on the tofu at every stage. We sample the delicious deep-fried cubes afterwards. "Whatever happened with the flies is now cooked," remarks a fellow student. True. And it's very tasty, regardless.

Our second stop is Kedai Tehteh, a popular shop with traditional Sundanese food. "People will be lined up all the way down the drive on weekends," we're told.

The teachers buy a "paket" for each of us: fried chicken, rice steamed in banana leaf, fried greens, deep-fried tempeh, a little fried circle of potato, and a quarter of fresh cucumber on a lettuce leaf ("which I don't recommend foreigners eat," warns Josie.) It's hot and fresh, the best meal of our school excursions, especially after adding spicy sanbal and soy sauce. We'll come back with guests. W's stomach rumbles before he swallows charcoal pills. Mine feels full and happy.

The local "chicken combo"
Corrugated roofs over traditional rattan in rainy season
We handed the metalworker on the corner a sketch yesterday. In the evening, he welded a simple base for a yucky piece of furniture we found in a bedroom. We pick it up on our way home. Suddenly, it's a proportionate cabinet, perfect for dining room storage.

Before: low and awkward

After: with a simple metal base = useful
We can't always take pictures of the people we meet, so I'm sharing our surroundings.

Before: "and darkness covered the face" of possibly the most boring living room ever
After: getting there, slowly but surely
The house is full of mosquitos and flying termites. (The helper's husband leaves the back door open when he works. We'll have to talk about that.) We swat them away and drape the mosquito net around the bed as night falls.

Read more:
*Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. Psalm 1:1-2 ESV

*My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God? Psalm 42:2 NEV

*The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise. Psalm 111:10 NIV

*Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. John 17:17 ESV

*We are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. 1 John 3:2 NEV

Moravian Prayer: Heavenly Father, just like children we often think we know what is best. We long to be closer to you, and yet we fail to follow in the path you have laid for us so many times in so many ways. Thank you for forgiving us and welcoming us, even though we aren’t worthy. Amen.

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