Saturday, April 9, 2016

Climate change: 35% humidity (Seattle) to 90% (Singapore) to 78% (Bandung)

Thursday, April 7, 16
We eat supper at Aroma of India, a favorite eatery of Josue and Claudia. It's closed when we get there, but Claudia knocks on the door. She asks if they'll open for us. We can't wait until regular hours because Josue has an evening appointment.

They say, "Come back at 6:00. We'll open 15 minutes early."

We walk through part of Little India, taking in the smells and colors. The fragrance of flowers wafts from the temples. The food is well worth the wait!
Little India: colorful courtyards
Claudia bakes a Brazilian specialty for breakfast: fresh, hot cheese and tapioca flour rolls. (She first made them for us as her farewell breakfast when she stayed with us in November.) Absolutely yummy. The house smells wonderful as we emerge from a good sleep.

The kids are off to school at 7:30 but young Leo is under the weather. He toughs it out and goes, while we all sympathize.
Taxis and buses are plentiful, clean, and cheap
When Josue returns from taking the kids to school, we talk and pray together. We hear their hopes for the congregation and share resources.

Sooner than we’d like, it’s time to leave. We stand on the curb with 4 bulky suitcases, flagging down 2 taxis. (The fee: $7 Sing each vs. $50 Sing for a large taxi = about $10 US total, rather than $35.) Claudia hops in with me while W comes separately. After unloading, the taxi drivers urge us to check the trunks and back seats to make sure we have left nothing behind.
Options on the free foot massagers at the airport
We have no problems with luggage check-in. The scales weigh our suitcases at 2 kilos less than our digital scale. Final hugs and promises to pray for each other, and then Claudia heads home. We go through security without hassles. The airport is spotless; the gardens and amenities are worthy of a good hotel. Singaporean airport employees are briskly courteous and efficient.
The water lily garden at the airport,
an oasis for exhausted travelers
The flight leaves at noon. Our lunch: fried rice with shredded salty fish (eek, I hand it to W) and tofu strips (ok.) We land around 12:30. (Bandung time is an hour behind.) Ah, the new terminal is open: they even have a luggage carousel! It’s a fine upgrade from the conveyer that spit everyone’s suitcases into a small room. Everyone would throng the conveyer until their luggage arrived, then wade through the crowd to queue in the cordoned Z-line to customs.

We stop at Setiabudi Grocer for eggs, vegetables, and Coke for W. We are home by 3, to ecstatic barks and run-arounds by the security dog Gypsy. I’ve brought him a squeaker ball; he spends the afternoon chasing it and making it peep. (He shreds the “indestructible” ones from here, layering them into neat piles of plastic pieces.)
Gypsy in his glories: "squeak squeak"
The place looks tidy. The dehumidifier in a Rubbermaid container of shoes and handbags has kept them from moulding. Last time we traveled, our shoes became dusty with mildew. A ceiling fan helps, too. W has installed one in the bedroom since we don’t have air-con.

The internet is down at the house. The rain “or something” is wrecking reception. Welcome home! W puts in our Indonesian SIM cards so we can WhatsApp our family and friends that we’re safe. We connect with Indonesian friends, too.

We are too tired to cook so we walk to a new restaurant on the corner named Wild Grass. W has a burger, which he likes. I order a disappointing prawn salad: a bowl of romaine lettuce, topped with 3 prawns (reassembled with heads on), 4 small cubes each of sweet potato and dragon fruit and a watery yoghurt dressing. We splurge on a banana dish for dessert but take most of it home. The wait-staff members are friendly and speak some English.

W’s shower turns cold after a few minutes. Mine stays hot. Whew. We crash into bed after unpacking our suitcases. Of course we are up, off and on, all night. Jetlag is a beast.

We’ve exchanged 35% humidity in our Seattle basement suite for 78% in the house here.

I slather my face with sunblock for Gypsy’s early-morning walk, a chance to say hi to neighbors and look around the neighborhood. Even when we pass other dogs, Gypsy is mostly calm. What a switch from the day we got him, when he pulled me off my feet to charge a pack of dogs. Neutering and Pak Entang’s daily walks have transformed him.

Ibu A is happy to see us. 3 days a week while we’ve been gone, she’s kept the house sorted and clean. “I clean. I sleep. I come back and clean more.” Sweeping and mopping is a never-ending chore in houses where many windows have screens instead of glass. All the little animals that call this home need someone to tidy after them, too. She washes the grit off the top plate of each stack in the cupboard and scrubs lizard poop off the walls. She irons our travel clothes while we finish unpacking.

And she shows us the broken toilet lid: “I’m so sorry. It slipped out of my hands one day as I was cleaning it.” We have to replace the toilet if we can’t glue the lid together. Her husband has already checked: lids are not replaceable.

Ibu W has suggested a post-travel massage and her lady comes in the morning and eases my sore back. What a relief.

For lunch, Ibu A steams bananas, cooks rice, and makes a salad from the greens in our garden. She warns me off plucking weeds that look like mesclun (young salad leaves).
A refreshing water

I start to readjust to the lizards darting here and there. A few spiders and lots of ants roam the place. I even find ants in grains stored in a sealed plastic box (which is in a sealed plastic bin). Every time we leave, we renegotiate the tenancy of insects. “Out with you!” we insist, but they resist us and return when we look away.

After lunch, we pass a few Pacific NW goodies to neighbors and walk to Borma on the next hill. It’s not a simple walk: the pavement is variable, the streets and alleys go up and down steeply, and twists and turns through the kampung (villages) bring us further uphill than we planned. It’s hot hot hot in the sunshine but the wide brim of my Walmart straw hat keeps the sun off my face.

At Borma, a “we-have-everything” supermarket, I refresh with a red bean yogurt popsicle (40c) while W replicates a key for the new lock on the gate. People say hello but stand at a respectful distance from Gypsy, who lies calmly on the pavement.

The dog carries our water bottles in a pack. He loves being a working dog but he and we pant our way up the final hill to home. +11 km (+13,000 steps) of hills on our first day back. Welcome home indeed.

In late afternoon, lightning and thunder crash almost simultaneously around the house. Gypsy, frightened out of his wits, leaps the patio fence to sit beside W on the porch until it’s over. At least he’s not in the neighbor’s house, where he’s fled the past weeks during the worst storms of rainy season.

I'm up at 4. That's it for the night, then.

The blog takes 3 hours to write. Sigh. Oh yeah, I have to plan time for writing here. We still have no internet and I keep getting bumped off my phone hotspot.

We look forward to attending a church service nearby.

 Read more:
*In God we boast all day long, and praise your name forever. Psalm 44:8 NKJV

*With gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. Colossians 3:163:16 ESV

*Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:7-10 NIV

Moravian Prayer: Jesus, we could give thanks and praise all day and night and never come close to expressing our gratitude for all that you have done for us. Today we pause to thank you for all our blessings, great and small. Amen.

C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity, on happiness:
What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could “be like gods”—could set up on their own as if they had created themselves—be their own masters—invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.

God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.

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