As you may or may not know, I’ve been traveling for the past 2 ½ months. I have a few things back home in storage, but everything I currently need is in my little back-pack. At the moment, I’m in a tiny little dirt-road fishing village nestled amongst brown, barren hills, and surrounded by a series of turquoise coves which lie stark and blue and calm under a big blue sky.
There’s very little in the village; it’s one long dirt road with a mini-mart and a few little shops which all seem to be selling the same thing, cigarettes, water, sachets of drinks, band-aids, and other random paraphernalia I haven’t yet had a need for.
I moved into a little homestay yesterday that has a small kitchen and a fridge, and although I haven’t been feeling edgy or unhomey, and I didn’t move into this place because of the kitchen (I moved because it’s cheap), I am feeling, this morning, with the first homemade coffee I’ve made in 2 ½ months, a little thrilled. I’m really in the thick of it here; there are villager’s homes directly in front, behind, and next door to my place. I suspect, but can’t be sure, that it might be someone’s house and they’ve moved out while I stay here. My front door opens out onto a dirt-filled front yard, where a contraption for hanging octopus has been constructed, along with a little bamboo hut where people lie and sit and sleep and chat. The front yard is strewn with lobster nets, chickens, cats, rubbish, and people. I love it.
One thing I’ve noticed in Indonesia, is that friends share you with their friends. Need a surfboard fixed? Someone’s friend can do that for you. Need a doctor? The taxi driver will take you to his friend. Need a visa extension? Someone’s friend can help with you with that. That’s how I ended up in this place, my friend, who I adore, and who was a guide at the surf camp I stayed at, suggested his friend’s place. I’m now living directly opposite my friend. I like this kind of hustle; I admire people’s ability to make a living off the fat of the tourists who stagger through their small and beautiful towns.
I found Monday’s post of the day super relevant to my current situation, as I parsed all the essentials I needed to move (see, how late I am with posting? That’s no internet for you).
Water: I had to hitch a ride on the back of my homestay mother’s scooter, to the mini-mart to buy one of those 25L blue plastic water containers. When I bought it home and installed it in the kitchen, I was tipping it over to pour the water into my glass. Later, when I went to buy a coffee at a tiny little café across the road, I spied a water bottle with a blue and white plastic thing inserted into it. I’d found one of those blue and white plastic things earlier, and not knowing what it was, I’d deemed it useless and set it aside under the sink. Aha! It’s a pump, of course! Life just got that little bit easier.
Toilet/bathroom. When I arrived in Indonesia I was horrified by the toilets. They’re not particularly bad toilets, they’re flush toilets, but I couldn’t understand why the floors and toilet seats are constantly covered in water. They have bum-guns here, the hoses that you clean yourself with after using the toilet, and if you do use toilet paper you don’t flush it, you put it in a garbage bin. It’s not these factors that horrified me. I just couldn’t comprehend why, after using the bum gun, a person would then spray water over absolutely everything.
There’s also a cultural practice of taking your shoes off when you enter a place. I had coral cuts and scrapes all over my feet, and every time I went to the loo I had to slush through an inch of water in bare feet. The whole time I’d imagine my cuts were sucking up every piece of faecal matter, I imagined, were harbouring maliciously in the water all over the bathroom floor.
I had an Indonesian friend use the toilet at my place, and I was stunned when I used it afterward, that he’d soaked…everything. The floor and toilet seat were covered in water. I finally got to ask, ‘but, whyyyyyy?’ He said to me that when he goes into a bathroom and it’s dry, ‘it’s strange’…‘it feels like there’s something wrong’ which is exactly how I felt when I go in and it’s all wet. A different cultural practice… I jumped on the internet to try and find out why, and most of the info I found was from expats, here the toilet is considered a ‘wet room’. I didn’t find out whyyyyy it’s a wet room, but the knowledge that it is what it is stilled my horror, and I’ve taken to using the bum-gun with abandon – I don’t keep the toilet as a wet room, but my ‘strange’ feeling is shifting toward ‘toilet paper is weird’.
Quite a few of the toilet/bathrooms I’ve used here I’ve felt ‘icky’ in. Taking a shower right next to the toilet makes me feel gross. In this place, my bar for the toilet/bathroom was simply that the toilet should be a reasonable distance from the shower head.
Internet: There’s no internet in this particular village. There are places that spruik free Wi-Fi, but it’s all lies. Well, not lies exactly, but it’s a fucker to get connected, and then drops out continuously. I have an Indonesian Sim and I have data, but in the village there’s no 3G, we’re on E. This is probably the most annoying thing about this place. I like to read and I like to research. I like to write to you, and I like to upload photos, but maaaaaaan, I don’t even know yet, how I’m going to upload this.
Power Points: I knew this place had electricity, but were there power points to plug in my various machines for charging? Yes.
Sarong: A lot of places I’ve stayed have had just a sheet, and sometimes nothing, to cover you in bed. I bought a sarong, and it’s the best.
The things I need to make me feel at home here are completely different to the things that make me feel at home when I’m taking my basic necessities for granted (as you do and as you should). I can’t quite work out, at the moment, whether my bar for what makes a place feel like home, is very, very, high, or very, very low.