Tomorrow I have a phone call with the PC Indonesia country director to begin "to understand the expectations of Peace Corps Volunteers." He's also going to field any questions and have the staff email the responses to all the members of my training group. My brain is filled with questions! But instead of trying to get answers, I think I'll just take a deep breath and keep my eyes and ears open.
One week from today I will be at Peace Corps staging in San Francisco. On that first step of the journey we get an orientation, H1N1 vaccinations, meet with Chalief Tjandraningrat, the Minister Counselor and have dinner with the Consul General from the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia. It's kind of exciting to be a part of this first group going back into a new country. We're getting a lot of honor that most volunteers don't get.
Then on Tuesday, March 16, I leave for 36 hours enroute to Jakarta via Tokyo and Bangkok, and arrive 2 days after I leave and 13 hours ahead of Salt Lake City.
Right now there are 20 of us in my group of Peace Corps Trainees. We'll officially be trainees after we fill out all the paperwork in San Francisco.
This preparation time has been good. I've given away everything I own, except for 2 suitcases worth of stuff I'll take and two rubbermaid bins with cold weather clothing that I'll leave here with my daughter. Because I plan to get a little RV and travel when I return it just didn't make sense to hang on to all the furniture, clothes, dishes, pictures, knick knacks, vacuum cleaner, towels, tools and other things that I've accumulated. My son, Peter, will take my car and my home in New Mexico is set up in a trust for my children with my brother, Eric as the manager. It's kind of freeing to let go of all that material wealth, like taking a beautiful picture that you painted and removing every color until you have a blank canvas again.
So, my "To Do List" this week consists of saying goodbye to all my friends and family, packing the hula hoop, the raingear, the clothes and a few of the school supplies, learning a little more Bahasa Indonesia, the national language, figuring out Katrina's laptop computer which she is so generously giving to me and savoring each day.
One fun thing I've learned is that my grandchildren will always be beside me. The word for left is kire (for Kira) and right is kanan (for Talon). Thank you, terima kasih, literally means: reiceive love and the response, kembali, means:to return it back.
Little children in Indonesia practice playing "market" so they learn the life skill of bargaining for everything. I don't know if I'll ever be good at negotiating the price of bananas or a bus ride but I've memorized how to ask for the "senior discount." (the moon took a parachute which lands on a jet next to a usi - untuk para lanjut usia.) I hope I can at least get a smile and a little money off the "rich American price."
To ask: Where is the bus station? I think: the manna from heaven, Tom, with a pot, in the pot is a pear and on top of that is a chicken holding a cup of tea, then comes the word BIS which I know means bus. All this comes out: Di mana tempat perhentian bis? It's a crazy way to learn a new language but it seems to be working for me. The word for peanuts sounds exactly like cat chow!