Saturday, March 14, 2015

Travelers underway

Labu Siam (Chayote)
Friday, March 13, 2015
Josie comes at 9am to tutor us. Her mom, visiting for the first time, explores the yard, points out fruit ripening on the trees, and explains what it’s used for. “If I lived here, I’d never come inside,” she laughs. "It's like a fruit market." Unfortunately, much of the fruit will ripen before we return.

She goes inside with a handful of green fruit, "labu Siam." She cuts one into matchstick-sized slivers and salts it. Then she quarters the other before boiling it for 7 or 8 minutes. Oh my! Enak

"They're even better fried with garlic and onions," Josie says. "That hides the smell." Well, it may smell a bit musty but it's delicious.

A truck pulls in the gate as they are leaving. Tanya, who lived and worked in Bandung for years, has moved back to the States but stored some of her household things for us. Two wiry locals unload the truck and put the boxes and shelves on the porch. W cuts the packages open to find provisions for the second floor. These are needed things, including chairs, pots and pans, dishes, voltage regulators, and a bonus - a ceiling fan to stir the air in our bedroom. Thank you, Tanya! and thanks be to God for moving his stuff around.

We clean, do a few loads of laundry, and start to pack.

Exploring the backyard: what food is back there?
Today we fly to Seattle. The pembantu Ibu A and her husband Pak E arrive at 8am. She irons a few clothes to be packed. She'll empty the freezer and fridge and share the food with her family. He pulls the paint roller out of the tray of white paint he left out overnight. ("The air is so humid that it doesn't dry out," says W.) Pak E continues his swath through the house. It takes him 2-3 days to patch and paint a bedroom so we know he’s in no hurry.

I walk Ibu A past some "accumulations of years" edging the stairs and the walls. “Please have this gone when we return, ok?” (requested in bad Indonesian). She says she will try. We’ve left money for food ($1.70/day) and she is to keep a record of time worked and money spent. We’ll see how that goes.

We didn’t pack until yesterday and I don't stress much since W takes care of travel details, but the move has tired me out. Beautiful trees, shrubs in bloom, and lush green planted terraces line the highway; I focus on anything but weaving in and out of traffic. (It's harder to be a passenger than a driver.) Bandung is "home". We will miss the people we’ve met. We say goodbye to a few neighbors and pray with the helper and her husband before we leave: blessings on them and protection on the house. I nap in the car after we leave Bandung at 11am. 

W gets anxious about arriving on time. What will traffic be like? It's actually not bad. We stop for lunch at A&W (I know, right?) before filling up with gas at a highway rest stop. In Jakarta, we run into the SuperIndo grocer for Indonesia spices and ramen for our kids. We’re at the Rempoa flat before 3. Dear friends have loaned us their car and driver so we can park our car at the house. Both the driver and W are happy to get underway on the ring road before rush hour. There is minimal traffic even at the toll stations. We’re at the airport by 5.

“Snag some carts, ok?” W pulls the suitcases out of the car. Among our full complement of luggage, some are empty. To move here last year, we crammed 6 suitcases full of clothing, basic gear, and other necessities. Now we have a better idea of what we need. We gave away or sold most of our household in Seattle but packed up a few things that we weren’t sure we could find in Indonesia. W has a list of things like plumbing supplies (drain plugs, connectors for the washing machine – that we should be able to get here, but the shops are always kurang=out of stock.) I want to bring a sofa cover out of storage. The main thing is to make a habitable base from which to care for others.

Ready to cook for company
Glad we brought old Tupperware along!
We can't sign in for our tickets yet. The attendant tells us the Korean Air counter opens at 7. We arrange our suitcases on two baggage carts so we can sit on them. (The one bench is taken). I ask if W feels less stressed since we are here early. Very early.

“Yes,” he says and sets his phone alarm so he can head for the line when it opens in 2 hours. He walks and explores the airport. I sit with the luggage. But then W finds a foot massage place @$7 (including tip). He stands outside, computer in hand. After a painful half-hour, my feet and shoulders feel better and the airline counter queue is open. I’m almost accustomed to airport waits after all these years. Not quite, but almost.

W found a deal on the tickets of course. Return tickets were $80 and a lot of air miles. The total trip lasts about 40 hours so sleeping along the way is a must. We feel excited about seeing our parents, kids, and grandkids on the other end, even though W flies out to a committee meeting the next day. I have a day to decompress before my calendar lights up. Prayers appreciated that we can be a blessing along the way.

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