I can’t quite wrap my head around it. We’re still waiting for the official word from AMINEF but when I talked to Ceacealia this morning, it did not sound promising. Not that anyone has any choice in the matter. They want us to go back just as badly as we do. But they can’t risk our health, and what would we do there anyway? My school’s holiday was extended until Thursday but at this rate, it could be weeks until we go back. By Thursday, my poor students will have been out of school for three whole weeks. It’s unbelievable.
I was honest on the phone with Ceacealia this morning and told her how bored we are and how we have exhausted the possibilities here. That it’s difficult to go to Joel’s school because we’re a burden and a distraction, that we’ve been to the mall, and the markets, and spend most of our days sleeping and surfing the internet, blogging, or reading. I mean, it’s not bad, it’s just the idea of doing this for an indefinite period of time that is slightly terrifying. You all know I’m a busy body. I’ve never spent two weeks like I’ve spent the last two weeks here…
On a brighter note, I was able to have my first Bahasa skype class with my teacher from orientation this morning! That was definitely a highlight of my day. It was really fun to speak to him for an hour in Bahasa and learn another fifty or so new words and feel like I have a direction in my Bahasa studies. And maybe this direction will help put a little purpose in my days – now I have to study and practice!
- If we hear that we’re not leaving tomorrow:
- find a Laundromat
- depending on how long we are here, maybe find a tailor and get some of my batik sasiragans made into shirts
- Memorize new Bahasa words
- Finish my book (Missoula)
- Go to a movie
- Go to pizza hut 🙂
(We did go to a movie, and had pizza hut for dinner (it was almost like an actual pizza!), and yep, I finished my book = successful day)
Okay, slight change of plans. No we’re still not going back, but it doesn’t look like we’ll be staying in Banjarmasin for the next month (rainy season and the definite end to the smog is around November). When we heard back from aminef this afternoon, they had a different idea. This morning, they thought that whenever we finally returned to Ptown we would have to extend our 60-day visa for another 60 days (a “quick” process) before we could apply to convert our 60-day visa to the limited stay visa (a month long process, potentially). That way, we don’t risk getting deported. However, our counterparts in Ptown didn’t think that would be possible – the immigration official is strict and likely wouldn’t approve the extension. All that to say, we need to get back to Ptown asap to start the visa conversion.
But we can’t stay there. We know it’s dangerous, aminef knows its dangerous, our schools and counterparts know it’s dangerous, and the US Embassy is against the idea. So the current plan is to drive back to Ptown on Monday, submit our paperwork to the immigration office on Tuesday along with a letter of attorney stating that our counterparts can complete the visa conversion process, and then either fly out of Ptown or drive back to Banjarmasin and fly out of here, to… somewhere!!
They know our days have been slow and they know we are anxious to teach and interact with students, so on Monday they are going to investigate the possibility of putting us in a school somewhere in Indo that has an English Access Program, an afterschool program run by the US Embassy for talented 14-18 year olds. There are a couple Access programs in Jakarta and a few more scattered through Indonesia and hopefully… one of them would like our help for a week, or two, or three…
I’m pumped. Carlie and I have been pretty down the last few days as we’ve continued to stare at each other and at our computer screens with no idea when things will improve enough for us to return. But now, the beginning of a plan is in place, we’ve finally told the hotel what day we are checking out, and our counterparts know to expect our arrival on Monday afternoon. We’re headed on a quest tomorrow to find the N95 masks, the only face masks that actually work, and then we’re off.
So far, this Fulbright experience hasn’t exactly been how I’d pictured it 😉 I expected to be in the classroom by now. I’d expected to have lived in my house, not a hotel for three of the last five weeks. I thought I would have made new friends with my students, not met them once. But you know, that’s what this is all about. I always said this would be an adventure. I mean, I named this blog, the year of living audaciously! It’s not going to be a straightforward year. I’ll get back in the classroom eventually and still have months and months to teach. And I’m certainly not homesick. While sitting in my hotel room isn’t exactly where I’d like to be right now, I’d still rather be here than in America. I’m still having fantastic experiences, exploring new places, and having the craziest, coolest, most unique year of my life.
So with that, I give you photos of the memorable times here in Banjarmasin that I hadn’t gotten around to sharing yet.
So yes, we’ve had quite a fun week here. It’s been slow at times but I’m ever grateful for the opportunity to explore a new city, make new friends, and protect my health. We’re so grateful to aminef for always having our backs and being so willing and able to help us out. They are the best and while I’ve expressed some frustrations in my last few posts over the long, tedious days, it’s only frustration at the fires that keep burning and the rain that won’t come. We know there’s nothing else to be done but to hang in there and hope that the rainy season suddenly decides to show up a month early.
I have no idea where I’ll be in a few days but stay tuned – I’m certain it will lead to another fabulous installment of this already exciting adventure. Cheers!