We’ve discovered that rain on dust turns into steamy mud… to be honest, steamy mud is not quite as refreshing as an afternoon Colorado thunderstorm, but it is much better than drought! We arrived in our new city just in time for a refreshing break in a lengthy stretch of drought. We expected no rain, but instead it rained every few days! It might have something to do with the effects of El Nino, but honestly, I still have no clue what is “normal” here. We are just beginning to explore our new city surroundings. Instead of trying to explain things I don’t understand just yet, I’ll just throw out some random impressions/observations from our first few weeks here…
This particular city has low shrubs, cactus, and a dusty feel. It often reminds me of the setting for an old Western movie, except with papayas and coconuts. All of the mountains surrounding the area are cooler and get rain frequently. The tropical heat in the city ranges from 82F in the morning to 95F during the day, which doesn’t sound hot, but sometimes it can feel like you’re melting. We all sleep in rooms with AC that keeps the temp a 80F. Weird, huh? I’m not really an AC person, but sometimes when your brain feels like it’s a puddle of liquid, retreating to 80F is utterly amazing. So when it does rain, you enjoy feeling all of the sticky sweat get washed away. I’ve even seen people bring out a bar of soap on such an occasion.
We’re close to the ocean, which means lots of fish! Needless to say, we’re happy as clams…haha. But really, we eat fish like 4x a week or more. The only thing that annoys me is that it’s impossible for me to buy fish at the normal price due to my skin color. Besides that…the fruit selection here is great, as well as fresh greens. Our basic menu is fish or chicken, rice and greens 2x a day. Yum! I’m pretty sure almost any plant that grows on this island can be sauteed with hot peppers, garlic, and onion. Beef is so expensive and doesn’t really taste that great, even though there are plenty of cows constantly roaming the streets eating scraps. Free range beef just doesn’t mean the same thing here.
Traffic here is beyond crazy. It’s heart-stoppingly fast and aggressive…or maybe just no one appears to care or look before they go. Mostly, you just drive, wear your helmet, and pray. I can’t drive the car yet since I’m not that adept with a manual to begin with, throw in driving on the other side/shifting with the left hand, plus the traffic and it ends up being a little too daunting. Payton has no problem with it! I’m going to have to adjust to a semi-matic bike too, but at least it doesn’t have a clutch. Whew.
The tone/dialect of language here is a little more rough. People in general are a little more to the point. The quiet and polite world of Java feels like a distant memory. It will probably take a few months for us to adjust our vocabulary too. The personal pronouns here are a bit different as well as personal titles. Before I used to know what to call the person I was talking to…it was easy: You are either a male or female, married or unmarried, young or old. We hardly ever used names. Here, if they’re younger, you can use their names or call them younger bro/sis, or refer to them as “you” informal, and there are even a few more. Talk about tying my brain in a knot!
Much to my chagrin the mosquitos here are more than happy to feast upon my O- blood plus there’s a drainage ditch in the back that contrary to its name, doesn’t do much draining, thus our widely advertised 5 star mosquito hotel accommodations. It also appears the snails and the neighbors chickens enjoy the luxuriant lawn and vegetation.
We have already experienced a few tremors and one legit earthquake that startled us at midnight! Those ring of fire quakes are indeed real.
I think it’s crazy that within a one hour radius, you have a desert, beaches, jungle, mountains, rice paddies, and probably a few other wildly different ecosystems, all within a short drive.
Isn’t God’s creation magnificent! We’re so glad to be able to take small day trips and see the world outside of the city and take a breather from language.