Signing out…

I’m heading to Myanmar for a few weeks to travel with my friend Blake, who I met right after I graduated from Indiana University and moved to Miami, Florida. A lot has happened since we were working at Green Street (and hating it), sitting in stand still traffic on US1 to get to our first teaching jobs in Fort Lauderdale, volunteering at the Marine Mammal Conservancy, and eating at McDonald’s because it was walking distance from our apartments and we didn’t have to leave a tip, which made it the only dining option in Miami that we could afford. Blake’s friendship was one of the only things keeping me sane during a very trying transition period in my life and I’m so happy that we can go on this adventure together, after not seeing each other for more than a year.

Blake and I, holding up a sick whale in Key Largo, Florida. June 2011

Blake and I holding up a sick whale in Key Largo, Florida… and smiling and nodding as the girl behind me talked, literally non-stop, for the entire 4am – 8am shift.  June 2011

We’re looking forward to an exciting two weeks full of temples, mountains, lakes, and seemingly never-ending bus rides. Internet is apparently pretty sparse, so there won’t be any updates until I’m back in Indonesia!

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I was walking with a ghost

The paranormal activity in Indonesia is unlike anything that I’ve ever experienced. There’s no escaping the presence of religion, ghosts, and psychics and my black-and-white, science driven logic is really struggling to get a good grasp on what exactly is going on here. I’m not going to touch religion, but here’s what I’ve worked out so far with the ghosts and the psychics.

Ghosts

Ghosts are not spirits of dead people, but separate beings. Certain ghosts are recognizable, but you really don’t want to see any. People who can see them can see them everywhere (I cannot) and apparently, our old house was riddled with them. Ghosts especially like to spend time in the trees. One student told me that after seeing a ghost in his grandmother’s tree, she immediately cut it down. Another student expressed that they struggle with the tree issue because ghosts live in the trees and that’s bad for people, but if you cut down the trees, it’s bad for the environment.

This picture is mostly up to show off last night's sunset, but do you see anything hanging out in our trees?

This picture is mostly up to show off last night’s sunset, but do you see anything hanging out in our trees?

Psychics

The police system here is pretty inefficient. Thank you, corruption. That being said, when you need to get to the bottom of something, you take it to your trusted paranormal specialist. This became especially relevant to me a couple of weeks ago when $200.00 USD went missing. Two different psychics said that that it was a female who is close to me. Amy is not a suspect. But who knows. Maybe he had a clear vision. Maybe it was made up. But either way, I’m out $200.00 and there’s nothing that can really be done about it.

The ghosts and the psychics really remind me that I’m operating in culture extremely different from the United States. It’s easy to forget that sometimes. You see a lot of traditional Indonesian clothing, but you see a lot of jeans and t-shirts too. I work in an English school, so I often hear these accounts from English speakers. I definitely have never heard someone speak so definitely about paranormal activity in English before I came here. Other moments that remind me how far away I am from home, geographically and culturally, are riding past the traditional markets being set up in the wee hours of the morning when I’m driving home from a night club and the frequent call to prayers. I also can’t forget the fact that I’m an outsider since people constantly remind me by shouting “bule!” (foreigner) as I pass. Yes, the bule shouts are getting old. Now that I’m over my culture shock hump, am settled into a routine, and can get around really well with my bahasa, the little intricacies of Indonesian culture are starting to show themselves. Who knows, maybe I’ll even see a ghost.

Happy Holidays from Bandar Lampung!

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We went to a Christmas party on Thursday and got a very healthy dose of Holiday Cheer! Yes, that is fake snow in Amy’s hair. It’s true that there’s no place like home for the holidays, but it really is nice to be far away from Christmas chaos. For actual Christmas day, I’ll probably be sitting on a beach somewhere in Myanmar… or on a very long bus ride…

Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflection

Amy and I have been decorating and rearranging the house like madwomen. After many combinations, the furniture FINALLY makes sense, we have new sheets that we aren’t embarrassed for people to see, we have separate spaces for eating and relaxing, and we have pictures on the wall that reflect our travels. Life is all kinds of comfortable in the Mesteller-Worley house.

We also have this masterpiece of a family portrait.

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This caricature of Amy, Monty, and I was made my Anpan and Jaka. We think that it’s a pretty accurate reflection of our little family and we crack up every time we see it! The bottles of alcohol are a very nice touch.

Have you ever had a caricature made of yourself? What physical or personality features were highlighted in yours?