Sunday, June 23, 2013

June 23, 2013

Guess what?  I'm in Indonesia.  We had a layover in Taiwan for 2 hours, about, and half of that was going through security and getting to the gate.  So we listened to some music and tried to talk to people in Indonesian, which kind of worked.  Because our luggage missed our flight, I got my luggage on Friday, so I wore the same long sleeved white shirt and everything else since Monday.  But we ran laundry every night, so they were "clean" at that point.  I had no expectations for Jakarta, so of course it's different.  It's so big, and so busy.  Right now, I'm in the city of Bekasi, which is a suburb of Jakarta.  Not that you can tell, they really just run into each other.  And you just take public transportation to get everywhere.  We take so much public transportation.  I'll sign for my ID card tomorrow, and then on Wednesday, I hop on a flight to Malang, a city that's on the complete opposite side of Java.  My trainer will be Elder Suryono, who is a native Indonesian and speaks no English.  We're the only two elders in the city, so it's going to be crazy.  My language skills should grow rather quickly.  Which is needed.  I hardly understand anyone.  There are four sisters and a mission couple in Malang, so that's cool, too.  I keep asking people about it, and all I ever hear is that it's dingin, which is cold, and they have apl yang baik, which is good apples.  I'm pretty sure that Indonesian cold and American cold are completely different, so it's still going to be way warm.

But I'm sure you want to hear about Bekasi, yeah?  The first thing I ever asked a missionary was "what's the weirdest thing you ever ate?"  So far, it's cobra.  We went to this member's restaurant, and for ten bucks, he grabs a cobra, chops it's head off, drains the blood into a cup, cuts the liver open over the cup, and then cooks the cobra.  Apparently the blood has super good health benefits, so you drink it right away.  It's super bitter.  More bitter than anything I've ever tasted.  He gives you orange juice to drink after to wash out the taste.  That was nice.  Then he makes about half the cobra into sate, which is like a kebab, and the other half into goringan, which is fried.  The sate was better, in my opinion, because the goringan had a ton of bones.  He just takes a section about an inch long and fries it.  So it was good, but it was hard to eat.  He also gave us python soup, which was super good.  And super spicy.  There are six of us in the Bekasi house, Elder McCleary (from my MTC group, he's headed to Solo tomorrow), Elder James and Elder Mogot (or something like that.  Elder McCleary is with them so I don't talk to them very much), Elder B. Johnson (there were four Johnsons in the mission when he got here, so there's a first initial on his name tag) and Elder Muryono, who I'm following until I go to Malang.  Elder James had already eaten the snake, so he ordered monkey.  They don't kill it there, so it wasn't as cool.  I tried that one, too, and it was pretty good.  There's so much crazy food here.  I also had avocado juice because so many people told me it was their favorite.  I thought it was OK, so maybe I'll try it again in a month or so and see if it gets any better.  Everything's so cheap here.  The snake was $10, and it was about 9 times more than I paid for any meal previous.  I get full on $0.70 or $1.20 every meal.  It's the best.  Also, meat is super expensive; it pretty much doubles the price of the meal, so I just have tempe or tofu with every meal.  It's all fried, so it's not like a weird health food.  For a normal street meal, you get some veggies, two pieces of tempe of tofu, some sambil, and a whole ton of rice.  It's really smart how they eat rice to fill them up instead of the main dish stuff to fill them up.  Sambil is the spiciest stuff I've ever had.    Everything here is served with sambil, unless you specificaly ask for it not to be.  I always ask for stenga sambil, which is half.  It's made of ground cabe (cha-bay) peppers, and you get about a teaspoon if you get a full serving.  And it's not like salsa, your tongue doesn't burn, it's fine.  But your lips burn, your throat and stomach burn, your eyes water, and you sweat everywhere.  It just makes you sweat all over, it's so spicy.  I'm trying to get used to it.  I'm not sure if it's working.

We ride public transportation everywhere.  Buses and Ankots, all day.  Except it's not like America where there's set stops and stuff, the bus just drives, and if you put your hand out, it slows down; you hop on really quickly, and sit down.  When you want to get off, you hit the roof and say "Kiri" which is "left" since you get off on the left.  Then it slows again, you hop off and pay the driver.  Somehow everyone knows how much the transportation costs, but I never know.  It's based on how far you go, and it's between $0.20 and $0.50.  Super cheap, again.  Ankots are the same, they're just smaller.  Imagine a minivan.  Now squish it so it's only two seats wide instead of three.  Now replace the seats with benches that run long ways, raise the floor about a foot so the benches are only a foot off the floor, the floor is metal and crappy, you cut the sliding door off so there's just a hole where people jump on and off, it's about 100 degrees in the back because there are two windows and 12 people in the back, the guy across from you is smoking, the driver is yelling, honking his horn, and also smoking, and you put two people sitting shotgun.  Ankots are the worst.  But you can get from anywhere to anywhere if you know which ones to ride.  It's really effective, they're just unpleasant.  So I guess it's smart.  But in traffic, sometimes it takes hours to get where you're going.  We had dinner at a member's house last night, and it was two hours to get there, we had to take two ankots, and then it was an hour and a half back in the same two ankots.  Traffic in Bekasi and in Jakarta is terrible.  But we're biking in Malang, so that'll be nice. 

Things are good here.  It's crazy.  It's different than I ever imagined.  I get so tired and almost fall asleep every day at 7:30.  I'm not sure if that's jet lag or if I'm just not used to sweating all day long.  I haven't gotten sick yet, but it's only been six days, so we'll see how that turns out.  We've taught three lessons so far, and those are cool, when I understand what's going on.  The language barrier is pretty strong.  We also taught an English class, and that was pretty funny.  I'm really enjoying Indonesia, and its great here.

Love you all,

Elder Heiner
Dinner time

Brother Aguswanto,
the member who owns the snake shop/restaurant.

Out front
I ate one of these.
Snake Sate

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