Because I’m continually behind in everything… I wrote this post two weeks ago but forgot to post it! This is long overdue but here it is, nevertheless!
With the start to the grant that I’ve had so far, why would I ever expect things to stay the same?
The two weeks in Banjarmasin were wonderful. Yes, rocky, disorganized and frustrating at times. I’ve been thrown into situations and classrooms where I had no idea what was going on and flew by the seat of my pants… But ultimately, we became comfortable with our classes, were meeting wonderful students, and felt like we were finally settling in to a community.
And then… it all changed. Again. Although it is raining a little in Pky, and the air quality is starting to get better, AMINEF does not want to send us back until the air quality is GOOD. Like, actually good. And that could take awhile. Even two weeks after leaving Pky, I’m still feeling the effects of the smoke in my lungs and occasionally having difficulty breathing normally. AMINEF is aware of all of that – I’ve been to the hospital three times at their request – and they decided that it’s time to get us off of Kalimantan and into a place with good, clean air, a stable co-teaching situation, and some familiar faces 🙂
Thus, I’m taking a quick leave to Jakarta to see a pulmonologist and then, on Sunday, I’m headed to Manado! Manado is in North Sulawesi, about as far from Jakarta as you can get and still be in Indonesia. It’s essentially in the Philippines. Two of my favorite ETAs are placed in Manado, Sam and Shalina, and I absolutely cannot wait to see them and to be able to spend a few weeks (I think?) with them. Manado is famous for beautiful beaches and incredible diving – while I’m not sure diving is in my future considering the state of my lungs, I’m still pretty pumped to see the ocean!
While I’m truly disappointed to be leaving my students in Banjarmasin so soon, especially after promising all of them we would be here for a few more weeks and had made plans to hang out with them and have them show us around the city, I’m ecstatic for this next chapter in my Fulbright journey. While Carlie and I are great, great friends and have had so much fun together over the last few weeks, we’ve also been together 24/7, quite literally – in the same hotel room – for 2 months. That’s a long time. I think it will be really, really good for both of us to see some other ETAs, get a chance to regroup and mentally refresh, and become independent of each other. When I said goodbye to her this morning, I felt like I was leaving half of me at the hotel! Weaving through the airport, I kept looking over my shoulder to make sure she was behind me… it’s weird to be separated!
I’m also relieved to finally be headed to clean air. While Banjarmasin was much, much better than Pky, I was still having breathing problems on the days when it was just a little smoky. My cough would return immediately, my throat would feel like its closing up, and my lungs felt constricted and like I couldn’t get enough air. It got better for a few days and I thought I was fine and then the smoke came back and the health issues came back with it. Ugh.
So now, I’m in Jakarta looking up the directions to the hospital tomorrow, making plans with friends here, and then repacking my bags to head to Manado on Sunday!
I had a full and wonderful day in Jakarta yesterday! It couldn’t have been a more perfect 48 hours. Well, except for the doctor diagnosing me with a respiratory infection and bronchitis.
I checked in to the hospital yesterday to meet with a new pulmonologist. Thankfully she spoke English so this time was a lot easier. She looked at my CT scan from Banjarmasin and said immediately, “you have a respiratory infection!” Why did the first doctor not see this??!! Ha! I’ve never realized how important it is to get a second opinion! Then, after I told her I’ve been living in Palangkaraya, she was like, “OMG. You’re definitely not okay.” Great…
She listened to my lungs and said they aren’t clear and that my bronchial tubes are swollen (?) and all of that is making it hard to breathe. She diagnosed with me a respiratory infection and bronchitis. I’m now on antibiotics, have two inhalers, and a new cough medicine. Good god. She’s very happy that I’m going to Manado and to clean air and said I must stay for two weeks, darn 😉 Then, she wants to see me again in two weeks and she’ll do a few tests to determine if/when I can return to Palangkaraya. I’m crossing my fingers that it continues to rain and when I come back in two weeks I’ll be fully recovered and able to return to Palangkaraya.
After the hospital, I jumped in a taxi and raced off to my friend’s wedding! Puspa was one of the coteachers I taught with at the Access Program here in Jakarta a few weeks ago, and it just so happened that she got married yesterday! It was perfect timing and I was able to attend!! It was SO wonderful to see her and all my other friends there. I’ve been to one traditional Dayak wedding in Pky but this traditional Javanese wedding was far more extravagant. There were hundreds of people (at least that’s what it felt like!) and big, beautiful decorations. Puspa and her husband, Andy stood on the stage the whole time and greeted every guest – there was a constant line of guests and each person went up to greet them briefly. Weddings here are so different… The bride and groom stay up on the stage the whole time and after the guests greet them, the guests are free to eat and mingle and then leave. The whole thing can be a very short affair (for the guests!)!
After chatting with Gita and Arey (my other coteachers) for awhile, I jumped in line to see Puspa! She was so, so happy to see me and I couldn’t have been happier to see her too! She looked beautiful! We took a bunch of pictures and then I chatted with Gita, Arey and some of their friends for awhile before taking an uber back to the city with Arey and her friends. It was so, so good to see them all. I can’t tell you how much I needed that. Even though I only met them three weeks ago, we spent a lot of time together that week and we are so close in age that these girls have immediately become my close friends here. After all this chaos and transition, it filled my heart to see these friends again!
Once I got back, I texted Frida and met her too! Again, she’s a dear friend (whom I met when I was in Jakarta two years ago) and it was so, so good to see her. She is my age and still works for Standard Chartered. I saw her when I was here three weeks ago too and then yesterday we spent several hours catching up over coffee and bingsu, and then wandering the mall. She’s wonderful and such a good friend! I love knowing that I can drop into Jakarta and immediately have all these friends to find!
From there, Frida helped me navigate a few pharmacies to find the inhalers I needed (never found one of them – it was so strong that none of the pharmacies even had it!). Then, I went to Odi and Chesna’s house! I’m telling you, it was a busy day!!! Odi was having some friends over and invited me to join. I had met some of these friends a few weeks ago when we all went to a club one night… this was a much easier place to hang out and get to know each other though!! Odi (and the rest of us!) made siomay, steak, potatoes, a salad (!!!!!!), and pasta… WESTERN FOOD. I’m telling you, it was awesome. And great to again be in the company of friends my age! And all of them had studied in America so I definitely felt at home with them 😀
I left them around 10 as I had an early flight to catch the next morning. I got home and crashed after my busy day!!
Because I never got around to sharing these photos – here’s a whole assortment from my two weeks in Banjarmasin at Universitas Lambung Mankurat!