Before I joined the Peace Corps and came to Indonesia I gave away everything I owned. I set up a trust fund for my children and put the rental house on 20 acres in the National Forest in New Mexico in that account. My savings account and checking account are a part of what we call the “Family Fund.” My children borrow money from the fund and then repay it. So far, it has financed the purchase of several homes. My brother and my daughter have Power of Attorney and really, it’s not mine any more. I gave my car to my son. I saved 2 Rubbermaid boxes of winter clothes and some camping equipment and gave everything else away. All the photos went to my kids. The antique furniture went to their houses and they had their pick of anything else. All the rest was taken to places where people could pick through it and take what they want for free. Some big things I put on a free Craig’s List and people came and picked them up.
So what I arrived here with is pretty much all I have in life. My plan when I return to the States is to get a little RV and travel, so I really don’t need any of those possessions. And spiritually it felt like the right thing to do. So with that as an introduction let me say both that the few things I have are precious and that once you give away everything, it’s not so hard to continue giving away more.
My host dad likes my shoes. My daughter gave me these Keens for Christmas. They are awesome sneaker like shoes that you don’t have to lace up; you just pull the little tab. In my Indonesian family we keep all our sandals outside the front door, but shoes are placed on a little shelf just inside the entry way. (In Indonesia, you always take off your shoes and walk barefoot when you go into someone’s house.) When my friend, Corky, sent me an extra large pair of American flip flops he wanted them right away. Any time I get a package from home I have 2 options: open it in front of people (the teachers or the family) and let them pick out what they want or sneak it up to my room, pick out a few things that I totally don’t want to share and then share the rest. I don’t have a set pattern, but a lot of what gets sent is shared with other people. Okay, back to the shoes. I like these shoes. I have to wear black flats to school every day and I do walks in my sandals but I wear these shoes for long hikes and I plan to take these shoes back to America. He asked if he could wear my shoes. I told him “Yes, but I like these shoes.” I did not pick them up and offer them to him with 2 hands held together like you do when you offer a gift. I said, “Okay, you can wear them, but I get to wear them too.”
I’m leaving for Bali next week. The beaches in Bali are a $3 train ride, $2 ferry ride and a couple of $2 bus rides away. I think. It takes 18 hours to get there. I think. Anyway, I’m excited. I will spend the night with my first family in my training village, here on the island of Java and then meet up with Andy, my adopted son from pre-service training. (Smile. We already know that when we hike and take buses together that people think we are mother and son so we’re going to just go with the flow. And all 17 of the other volunteers age 22-26 are some version of friend / sister / brother / son / daughter. In some ways they are more mature than I am, but I have the old lady costume for skin.) Then we’ll travel to Bali; spend 2 nights near the Monkey Forest, then 4 nights near the beach in some rental cottages with 16 of the 18 Peace Corps volunteers. I forgot to mention the day before I leave is my birthday! And that’s the day that the month long fasting ends! The whole Islamic world will be feasting for 2 days! Can you imagine any more fun way to turn 62 years old!
So I may blog my little heart out this week because we have no more school and next week, no computer. I’ll be lounging around in Paradise on my well earned Peace Corps financed vacation. Every month of work entitles me to $24 and 2 days off! Now, all of you back home don’t be getting too jealous. You too can sign up for Peace Corps and get your own vacation pay! Of course, this means that this vacation will be little on the “not so extravagant” side, but what the heck – Bali!