Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Heading Home

I'm home.

My last posted was on April 1, when I was still in Indonesia. The last two weeks of my trip started to move very quickly and before I knew it, I was home in Arizona, getting used to my life here again. I've often thought what I would want to write here- if I wanted to continue my account of events or reflect on something. Here is a quick look at the last two weeks of my two month research trip to Indonesia:
The view outside the ICRS building at UGM

-I continued attending the musholla in Kauman almost daily. I went to two subuh prayers on Sundays (meaning I left my house at 4:00AM!) to hear a female speaker give a sermon. I did interviews in some of the women's homes. I visited a restaurant owned by an Ibu's daughter. On my last day of interviews, I broke fast in the evening with many of the ladies in one of their homes- I brought cakes from a nearby bakery and was served my favorite Indonesian dish, sop buntut (oxtail soup).

-I prepared to give presentations to the Universitas Muhammadiyah Yogyakarta and the Universitas Islam Indonesia. The night before my presentations, I was finishing up my typed notes and my computer mysteriously turned off. When it restarted, all I saw was a file folder with a flashing question mark. My husband, at work in the middle of the day in Arizona, called Apple Support and held the phone up to his cell phone where I was on WhatsApp with him. I talked to Apple Support this way until 3AM in Indonesia. The people who helped me had me try several different things and finally transferred me to a supervisor who told me "You're computer is broken. It can't be fixed. There's nothing we can do. It's broken" and ended the call. I angry cried to Zack for about 3 minutes, reassured myself that I had a backed my computer up before I left and had been saving all of my data in the Cloud, and started to hand write my notes from memory. Luckily I hadn't lost my PowerPoint- I had sent it to Zack and my sister to look over so they just sent it back to me on my phone. I kept my computer, figuring I probably just needed to replace my hard drive, and actually it turned out just to be a wiring problem and I ended up getting it fixed at a repair shop for around $100.

-I was asked to present some of my research at two universities by the organization AIFIS and spent a wonderful day going to both campuses and giving 30 minute presentations. The first university, Universitas Islam Indonesia, had a lovely campus and I was so excited to present for no less than 100 eager students. They had great questions and I even made them laugh a few times as I briefly recounted my journey from my small, Jesuit liberal arts college to doing ethnographic research in Indonesia. The second university was farther north and had a smaller group of students, about forty, and I presented along with a really interesting professor who is working on a great project. Both universities were extremely hospitable and it was an incredible day.

-Around the end of March I started to feel vaguely sick after I ate, right in the top part of my stomach and around to my back. This persisted well through the end of my trip. By the first week of April I was mostly just eating broth because I was in so much pain whenever I ate solid food. I wanted to brave through it and not risk having to stay in Indonesia to get medical treatment. (Now that I'm in the state I've done a ton of tests and still can't figure out why I am getting sick- although the pain is much less frequent now).

Birthday flowers from the family who
 hosted me. I hope we stay in touch!
-Saying goodbye to my host family, my translator, and the ladies who I worked with was incredibly difficult. I really couldn't have asked for a better experience these past two months. Many of the women I interviewed would ask me- did you get everything you needed? And I truly can say I got everything I wanted out of this trip and so much more. There were so many times I was able to just stop, take everything in, and appreciate in the moment how blessed I was to be there.

Airport in Tokyo. I'd love to
 actually see the city someday!
-Traveling home was full of drama. First, I took a flight to Jakarta where I planned to stay the night at a hotel near the airport before my flight to Hong Kong the next morning. At around 11PM I received an email from American Airlines that my flight to Hong Kong was changed and instead of leaving in the morning I would be leaving in the evening and staying the night in the Hong Kong airport rather than continuing on to Los Angeles. This was completely unacceptable for many reasons- all of my other flights would be missed, I'd have to stay an extra day in Jakarta, spend the night in an airport (I've done that many times and try to avoid it if possible) and spend my entire 31st birthday in transit, not arriving to Phoenix until the 17th. My husband got on the phone with the airlines and after a couple hours of questions and holds and transfers I was able to change my flight. Now I was leaving at 6:45am the next morning to Tokyo. I left my hotel when it was still dark and got to the now familiar Jakarta airport. My flight to Tokyo was about 7 hours and uneventful- I watched a lot of movies and was able to eat a little bit of food. I had a one hour layover in Tokyo which made me nervous but actually was plenty of time to clean up a little and make some calls before boarding.
This tasted quite good. Then I threw it up.

 Because this was a last minute flight change, I ended up on the second seat of the middle row of four. Minutes after eating the food I became very sick (my poor aisle seat mate was gracious despite me having to dash to the restroom to vomit three different times) and one of the flight attendants brought me medicine (I didn't know this until now, but flight attendants have access to a big first aid kit with many over the counter meds. I looked at the chart that described the medicines in English and Japanese, picked one kind of at random because I was desperate, and the flight attendant even checked on how I was feeling a couple times.) What saved me during all of this wasn't the medicine (by this point I had taken about three different kinds of nausea and other stomach meds because I found some I had in my backpack) but my FitBit. One of the problems of having an anxiety disorder is when you get sick you become anxious about it which then makes you feel more sick which makes you more anxious...and so on. My FitBit has a "Relax" option where you choose a 2 minute or 5 minute and it guides your breathing. I ran the 5 minute program about 10 times until I felt my anxiety pass and the stomach meds kick in. I didn't sleep a wink that entire flight but mainly just sat there with my eyes closed, my scarf pulled over most of my face, willing myself to survive the ten hour flight.

How I look after 18 hours of air travel.

-I arrived in San Diego airport (previously I was supposed to land in LA). I am SO lucky to have ended up at San Diego International Airport for two reasons. First, I am extremely familiar with the airport since I used to live in north county San Diego. Second, my dear friends the Montgomerys drove an hour down from Camp Pendleton just to hang out with me doing my four hour lay over. It was so good to see faces from home! I felt very rejuvenized even though the moment I got on my one hour flight to Phoenix I fell asleep. I arrived in Phoenix and my wonderful, gorgeous, fantastic husband was waiting for me with flowers! If you know us, you know we have a lot of homecomings- one of us always seems to be coming or going- and it never gets old or less exciting seeing him waiting for me at the airport. We got home, grabbed a cheeseburger (I hadn't eaten in 24 hours and was so hungry I didn't even care what the food did to me), snuggled the puppies, and I slept in my own bed for the first time in months.
My husband is hilarious. 

-On Monday the 16th I turned 31 years old. My whole family gathered at my parents' house to celebrate. By the time we ate dinner (Mexican food!) I was starting to feel pretty anxious and overwhelmed- for some reason being alone in a foreign country caused zero anxiety attacks but being back in America has already resulted in several. The first week back in the US I felt what is apparently called "post-travel depression" where you feel unmotivated, tired, and kind of sad. My computer was broken still so I couldn't do any work, I didn't feel good, I'd gotten used to no cooking or cleaning so I wasn't motivated to do any of that, and I was missing the adventure, busyness, and energy I'd enjoyed the past two months. But, I got over it and have settled in to my life again here.

This was on the PostSecret website the other day. I can definitely relate.
-Since I've been home I've transcribed interviews, wrote some grant reports, planned future research trips for May and June to Los Angeles and Berkeley, wrote a syllabus for a summer course I am teaching, spent time with my nephews, seen three movies, gone on lots of dates with the husband, ate many family dinners, and met with friends. Right now for me and Zack everything is a countdown (two weeks) toward our trip to Jamaica at the end of the month- a much needed week with each other in paradise!

Now that I've gotten this recap out of the way, I can write about other things!

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Traveling Abroad for 2 Months: What Worked and What Didn't

I thought I'd take a break from my usual boring narrative and instead talk about some of the things I used on this trip that made it easier- or harder. Having been here before five years ago, I spent a lot of time this go around trying to get products and tools that would make my two months here easier. I also challenged myself to bring only a backpack and a medium suitcase for the entire two months! I'm not being paid to promote these products (I wish I was, I'm a grad student for goodness' sakes, give me money!).

What Worked:
Hard Luggage- I've been using hard luggage for years. I get them in obxnoxious colors- my first set was neon orange and now I have neon green- and they can take a beating. I've used two sets over the past 8 years and purchased both from My first trip to Indonesia I think I brought a medium and small suitcase, but this trip I just brought the medium. You will always know as soon as your luggage hits the conveyer belt because it stands out!

Rockland 3-Piece Luggage Set,

Two Large, Two Medium Set
Packing Cubes- Last time I went to Indonesia I brought space bags- basically this just allows you to completely over pack. This time, my friend Preeth bought me some Packing Cubes from Amazon Basics. They are amazing! Four cubes held almost all of my belongings except shoes. I used each cube for a category of item (clothing, underthings, toiletries and medications, work supplies) so I always knew how to get something in a pinch. Also, when I arrived in Indonesia I just laid out the cubes on the desk and have been able to keep everything organized.

Teva Sandals- I bought two pairs of these sandals and one of them is on the good list and one is on the naughty list. Teva Sandals have a great reputation as sandals that offer good support and can handle lots of different terrain. I purchased these in black (on sale on the Teva website) and at first I got a couple little blisters but those weren't bad at all. They are easy to put on and take off (you take your shoes off here before going into most homes), don't slip, and don't really get damanged. They fasten around the ankle for support but if you need them to just slip on you can have the velcro part stick to itself. If they get stinky you just wash them with soap and hot water and let them air dry.

DevaCurl- I have naturally wavy hair and last time I was here I pretty much looked like a drown rat the whole trip. My hair was usually went from the shower at the start of the day and frizzy by midday. A few months before coming here this time, I started to research different ways to embrace my natural curls. I use the DevaCurl No-Poo Conditioning Cleanser every few days, the DevaCurl Daily Conditioner every day, and the DevaCurl Defining Gel every night. This allowed me to travel without brushes, straighteners, or a blowdryer. I watched several youtube tutorials on how to use the products best and it paid off. I started to use the products about two months before I left for Indonesia and brought the same bottles to my trip. By the time I am ready to go home (in two weeks!) I will be recycling the bottles here and have less to pack!
I wake up (with my hair) like this.
(I'm making a stupid face.)

Contigo ThermaLock Matterhorn, 20oz
Contigo Water Bottle- I got this waterbottle as a 2-pack at Costco. It's one of those bottles that claims to keep drinks cold or hot for hours. It's slip and fits easily in a backpack and the cap stays attached while you're drinking. I only used this for mineral water during my trip. What I love about it is if I filled it with lukewarm water, in a couple hours the water becomes cool! One downfall that can't be helped is it doesn't hold that much water- I'm belatedly realizing that I should have been drinking about 3L of water a day in Indonesia. Consequently I'm dehydrated and trying to right things before I go. I read a lot of blogs that said bringing a water bottle was a waste of space but buying plastic ones all the time is not the business! Also, if you go on a GoJek and don't arrive at your desination thirsty and sweating and wanting water IMMEDIATELY- tell me your secret.

YTL Laptop Backback $23.99
Backpack- I had a lot of criteria for a backpack to take to Indonesia. It needed to be water resistant (it rains almost every day here- downpours!). It needed to be theft resistant, it needed to hold a computer easily, it needed to be comfortable and not too big. This backpack fit all of my needs. It has no little zipper sections on the outside and the main zipper is set toward the back (so it would be closer to your neck) which is ideal to avoid pickpockets. It holds a lot, which means I spend a lot of time rummaging through it to find what I'm looking for, but it is comfortable and doesn't protrude. I used this bag as a carry on and it fit everything I needed- wallet, book, phone, computer, chargers, change of clothes, little toiletry, medications, important documents. Here in Indonesia I take it everywhere with me.

One thing I disliked was  the top part of one side of the straps became a little separated from the top of the bag. Since I'm using the crap out of this bag I don't mind and the rest of it seems sturdy enough that I know it will hold.

EDIT: This is being moved to the DIDN'T WORK list. Today I put my backpack on and the strap adjuster on the right shoulder strap SNAPPED. This is a 2 month old backpack! Ridiculous! 

Dakine Women's Jive Tote  $13.06
Purse- I went to every store I could think of to find a good purse for this trip, something small I could use when I didn't want to have my backpack. It could NOT be leather- last time I brought a leather Fossil bag and the rain made the color bleed! It needed to be light, have a wide strap and be comfortable to wear- a few years ago I separated my left shoulder (walking my dogs and protecting them from another dog running up to bite!) so wearing cross body bags can become uncomfortable. Also it needed to be cross body and small enough to stay at my front to prevent pickpockets and purse snatchers. I had zero luck at stores. Eventually I found this bag on Amazon by Dakine. It has been great. It is a tad small but fits my two phones, wallet, and hand santizer in it just fine. I'm always aware of where it is on me so it would be very hard for a pickpocket to get to it.

Cell Phone- I brought my iPhone 7 on this trip. I kept it on airplane mode the entire time and just use WiFi wherever I go. This allows me to use Facebook, Facebook Messenger (where I have a group chat with my family), WhatsApp (the most popular app in Indonesia for texting and video chat I think!), and most importantly a currency converter, Google Translate (which you can use offline), the GoJek app, and Google Maps (which you can use offline). I also figured out how to use my Indonesian phone (an Andromaxx phone) as a hotspot so I could get internet anywhere to order a Gojek. I have an OtterBox case because I drop my phone at least three times a day.

NEWVANGA Universal Adapter $10.99
Universal Charger- This is an obvious. It's a universal charger that you can adapt to anywhere. This was helpful because the outlets in Jakarta were different from the outlets in Yogyakarta. There's also two USB ports in it which I used the most.

Laundry Bag- At the Dollar Tree before I left Arizona I had a stroke of genius and bought a mesh, pop up laundry hamper for $1. Piling up your dirty clothes is bad idea because a) it's gross and b) critters will find their way into your stinky clothes. This is something I will leave behind when I come home (one of the straps already broke, but hey it was only $1!).

eBags Pack-It-Flat Toiletry Kit
Toiletry Bag- Usually when I travel I bring a set of cute, coordinating toiletry bags of various sizes and shapes. I realized this was not practical and instead my husband Zack's military toiletry bag inspired me. He bought me this one from ebags and it has been great. It has so many compartments, folds flat, and hangs up!

Audio Recorder- When doing interviews, I strongly suggest buying an audio recorder and not depending on the iPhone's VoiceMemo. The audio recorder I bought was inexpensive but the sound quality is
Evistr 8GB Digital Audio Recorder
so much better than VoiceMemo. It comes with a cord that connects the recorder to your computer to transfer sound files. I hit a snafu with it in the beginning because the sound files are saved as .WAV and I couldn't get iTunes or QuickTime to play them. The directions are not the best and the online help is even worse but I rectified the situation by downloading VLC media player for free which played the files.

BB Cream- If you're like me, wearing make up in Southeast Asia is useless- it just slides off along with your daily, constant sweating. I know a lot more about makeup now than I did five years ago but not enough to know what BB Cream was until I found it while googling tinted moisturizer. BB Cream is a mix of foundation, mosturizer, concealer and sunblock. The one I have comes out of the tube white but matches with my skin tone once on my face. It's super easy to use and my basic routine is to put on BB Cream, then a little TrueMatch Powder, curl eyelashes and then water proof mascara. I am getting pretty lazy though (and let's face it no one cares what my face looks like) so I am going makeup free most days! Before I came to Indonesia I replaced my foundation completely with BB Cream and found that I have great coverage but it looks way more natural.

Travelambo Rfid Blocking Envelope Wallet
Passport Wallet- This was another Amazon purchase with high reviews. I needed a slim wallet that would hold bills, coins, a couple credit cards, IDs and my passport. This held all of that and didn't take up too much room.

Trtl Pillow- $29.97
Trtl Travel Pillow: This is amazing. Go buy one right now! It is washable, wraps around your neck and supports your neck and chin during travel. It felt so much better than the regular travel pillows I used to use. You sleep so comfortably while sitting up and don't feel like you have to lean anywhere.

What Didn't Work:

Poncho- I don't know if rain ponchos are just a scam but when I wore this in the rain every inch of me ended up soaked. This was an inexpensive one on Amazon that buttoned up on the sides and was a little difficult to maneuver on. It would have been beter for me to buy one when I got here since those seem to work better for everyone.

Pineapple-ing is better.
Hair Towels- I had the brilliant plan to wash my hair at night, wear it in a small microfiber towel while I slept and and wake up with dry hair. These are great if you need to dry your hair without damaging it (microfiber is better for curls) but it was not comfortable to wear all night and didn't leave me with that great of hair in the morning. Instead I used the "pineapple" method which means I just wore my wet hair in a very high pony tail on top of my head at night. When I woke up it would be dry and have much better curls. I'll still use these when I'm getting ready back in the States, but for overnight they aren't good.

JOTO Universal Waterproof Case $7.99
Waterproof Phone Case- I haven't used it at all. It rains a lot but this never ended up out of its case. So in this case, it's not that it didn't work for me it was just unnecessary. I might get a chance to use it on our Jamaica trip though!

Ouch. $23.70
Teva Sandals- The second pair of Teva sandals I bought were not right for me. The straps moved a lot, they didn't fit right even though they were the same size as the black Tevas, and I got a bad blister after one use. I really suggest sandals that have support around the ankle also instead of just slide ons.

Cheap Sneakers- Tempted by cheap sneakers that look cute on Zulily? Well they aren't as cute in person. Also, the bottoms got worn very fast even though I only used them a couple times- but they were super cheap so I got what I paid for. In retrospect they didn't even send me the right color- I ordered black and white and they sent me grey and black.

Camera- My iPhone took better pictures and took up much less room.

Jeans- Don't bring skinny jeans unless you like the feeling of peeling sweaty denim off of your body. And if you get rained on it's even worse!

What I wish I had brought:

Umbrella- I forgot mine!

Another pair of bottoms and two more tops.

A little bit of laundry detergent- sometimes you have to wash things in your sink on the fly while you wait for your laundry to be done. My mom suggested I bring some but I didn't listen to her- don't be like me! (Sorry Mom!)

I'm in the home stretch everyone! I have several more interviews, two presentations, a trip to kesbangpol and I need to apply for my exit permit, but then I will be done!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Busy Girl.


Here is a very tiny pie from Bali. I thought it was cute.

My Lane bug, now 6! 
If you know me outside of this blog, you know that I have three adorable nephews from my sisters. When Lane was one and a half, I went to Indonesia for the first time. He quickly learned how to say Indonesia in his little baby voice and we would talk almost every day on video chat. Now he is a six year old and our video chats are full of funny stories to each other about our day. Lane has figured out the way the time difference works and is amazing that it is always night time where I am when it is morning for him! He's been dealing with multiple ear infections the past few months and had a procedure done to drain his ears and have his adenoids removed- I wish I was there but I was able to talk to him before and after and he did so great!

When I came home from Indonesia in 2013, he wanted to snuggle with me and held one of the rice paddles I bought from Indonesia while he slept!
His little brother, Colt, just turned three and for most of his life me and my husband have lived in California or been travelling. Consequently, this past year living in Arizona has been filled with attempts for Colt to warm up to us. A few months ago Colt discovered how fun his "Nono" is (my husband) but he was still a little skeptical about me. Before I left on this trip, I'd tell him I was going to Indonesia and he'd say "No! Don't talk about it!" Right before I left he warmed up to me, talking to me and playing with me even. This whole trip I have called him almost every day and he asks me if it's morning or night in Indonesia (something about babies and toddlers saying Indonesia is adorable).  He shows me his toys and likes to see pictures of the foods I eat here. When it's time to hang up he tells me he loves me and misses me!

My other sister's son, Beau, is only two. Sometimes I talk to him right after he wakes up in the morning and I have these long babbling conversations with him that are so funny. He smiles so big when he sees me on the phone screen and he waves and kisses the screen goodbye when it is time to hang up. If I call him during his favorite show Elena, though, he doesn't have time to spare a glance for me!

Thank goodness for Facetime and WhatsApp for giving me the opportunity to stay in such close touch with my family, especially my little nephews!

This past week was even busier than the last. I had to read the book I checked out from UGM very quickly, I went to my research site several times, kept on with my bureaucratic adventures, and took many interviews.

After doing a great interview at my reasearch site, my translator and I took a GoCar (similar to Uber) to the Muhammadiyah bookstore. I bought three books about the women of the organization. Of course the books are in Indonesian so I am going to spend some time slowly reading/translating them when I get home to the US.

 I am happy to say that I FINALLY am in possession of my passport again! Immigration kept it for almost two weeks and being in a foreign country without your passport is very uncomfortable. It took three visits to immigration to get my passport back after I had turned in all of my application materials. After I turned everything in I had to pay a few that equaled about $90, bring back the receipt as proof of payment, and wait at the immigration office until I was called to take a picture, take fingerprints and give an electronic signature. The picture is definitely not my best but since it was my 7th visit to immigration you can imagine how tired I am of that place. Once that was done I had to go home and wait for an email with my KITAS (the permit I've been trying to get this whole time), print out the KITAS, bring it back and then I would get my passport. Of course I showed up on Friday morning to get my passport back after having printed my KITAS at UGM and was told that pick up times were only after 1pm- this was brand new information to me, of course. I decided to run some other errands before returning to immigration after 1pm. I did return, though, and received my passport! I don't have to go back to immigration! That makes a total of 8 or 9 visits I think, countless GoJek rides, photo copy fees, the permit fee itself, countless forms and some psychological pain and suffering.

While I waited to pick up my passport I went back to the police headquarters. If you remember from my last post or maybe two posts ago I went there previously, turned in the documents that the officers said I needed, and was told to return in 7 business days to get my permit. Well, as soon as I got there this time I was shown to a completely different office in the building which was a big red flag- I just knew there would be complications. Turns out the well-meaning employ had not told me all of the requirements (or given me the pamphlet that outlined the requirements) and I needed to include a letter from my sponsor addressed to the police headquarters here, two 3x4cm photos with a red background, a copy of my KITAS (which I didn't have before). I was at the point by then where my limited knowledge of the language just wasn't cutting it but eventually I figured out what was required.

To be honest, two days this past week I have sought refuge in Starbucks during stressful days, nursing a venti shaken iced tea lemonade with passion tea! After leaving the police headquarters I ran across the street to the Hartono Mall and drank some tea until it was time for me to go back to immigration. One day at Starbucks I ordered a croissant and to my joy it was served with a little butter- I'd forgotten butter existed these past five weeks!

I'd like to take some time to discuss Indonesian critters. When I came to Indonesia last time, I had a tentative truce with all Indonesian animals (you can read about it HERE). This past week, however, I got the sense that Indonesia as a whole was just DONE with me and the powers that be had sent an army of its creepiest minions to drive me out.

Here are some of my typical animal encounters-

-Cats everywhere. Stray cats, pet cats. Beautiful cats, silly cats, cats that stop in shock at the site of me and stand frozen as I walk by like they've never seen a foreigner before.
-Horses leading carriages. I love horses. I feel so bad for these horses because they are exposed to so much traffic pollution. But I hope that sense they are the source of income for their owners that they are loved and cared for. And down the street from me, horse meat is cooked and sold.
-Chickens everywhere. Walking in front of you down the street, leading their babies, being narrowly avoided by motorcycles and ruffling their feathers in disapproval. And of course roosters that have no sense of time.
-Bats flying around at night (not in the house this time).
-Ants. Everywhere, all the time. On the kitchen table, in my water glass if I forget to put the cover back on, giant ants on my terrace and tiny ones in every building, ants on my GoJek driver's helmet or crawling on a student's hand at UGM.
-Lizards- two little ones that I see in my room some time, one gecko that gets dangerously close to the heads of people I interview at my research site, lizards everywhere eating bugs which makes me happy.
-Butterflies! So many gorgeous butterflies, including a bright blue and black one the other day.
-Birds are the pet of choice here and many houses have large bird cages outside of their homes with colorful songbirds.

Not so typical encounters-
-After a long day of interviewing research subjects I sat down to eat dinner a little after eight. About half way through I heard a strange noise, looked up and saw a lizard on the ceiling. Looked down and saw that the lizard had POOPED on the table next to my dinner. I was then done eating dinner.
The little bastard that pooped on my dinner.
-While organizing my belongings in the second little room I have I picked up my towel from the bed and saw the MOST GIGANTIC COCKROACH I HAVE EVER SEEN. It scrambled off the towel and hid in the pile of hijabs. I am not equipped psychologically to deal with cockroaches. Luckily, my hosts son was home and I asked him for help. It took about 15 minutes, a flashlight, a wooden spoon and his sandal because that massive cockroach was clever. Just as we were going to give up looking for it (I knew if that happened I would never be able to sleep) it appeared again and was quickly dealt with. The next day, I took a shower and just as I started a small cockroach came up the drain. I braced myself and tried to drawn it with the handheld shower head- but cockroaches aren't known as resilient for nothing. When the second cockroach appeared I said, rather loudly, "Nope! I'm done!" Grabbed my towel and left the bathroom. One of the housekeepers heard my sounds of distress and dealt with the creatures for me, thank goodness.
-Frogs during and after rain. During, they hop around at random and I try to avoid them. After, I don't know if they get run over or the heat dries them up but there's always several frog corpses strewn about outside.
-This giant winged insect that parked outside my bedroom door for a whole day. I didn't want to see what it could do when airborne.

Lastly, I haven't felt my best this week. I think eating foods that aren't best for my Hashiomoto's thyroiditis is the culprit. I eat soy products here almost every day as well as gluten. There are a lots of fried items too which means flour or corn based ingredients. One day I felt particularly bad and fell asleep while working on the computer THREE TIMES. Falling asleep against my will is usually a big sign to me that my thyroid is acting up. When I get home I plan on restarting the dreaded AIP diet so I can get back to normal and feel better.

I have 20 days left in Yogyakarta before I start the trip back home. I am starting at a new research site this next week and have lots of interviews to do. I am working on my data while here, organizing it and writing transcripts of my recorded interviews. I am presenting information about my project at two universities here in April. I'm still not totally checked in and need to keep working with the police headquarters and then go to Kesbangpol. Then, when April starts I need to apply for my exit permit.
Standard attire: sweat, headscarf, bags under the eyes, ambition. 

Please send good wishes for informative interviews, prompt GoJek drivers, and polite critters that avoid my presence!

Near my next research site in Kauman. 

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Half way there...I'll make it I swear!

Hello friends! I am just over the halfway mark of this trip to Indonesia.

Two Thursdays ago, the rain stopped long enough for me to walk down to the Kotagede 'Aisyiyah Musholla in the early afternoon. There is a pre-school next to it and as the children were leaving I spoke with some of the teachers who work for 'Aisyiyah also. I was invited to observe the afternoon prayer and as I settled in, to my surprise, men walked in! Typically in articles this musholla described as being "khusus wanita" or a special women's musholla. Five men, however, were certainly praying in the front of the musholla as a few ladies prayed behind them. After prayer, I was invited to eat lunch with the teachers- rice, fried fish and vegetables- and I told them a little bit about my work. I made plans to return the next day with my translator, Linda, to do a proper interview and figure more about when this musholla
stopped being just for women. On my walk home I stopped into a small boutique and bought a long, flowy jean skirt (sometimes the clothes I wear here, with my pale skin and often braided hair makes me look like I'm auditioning to marry into the Duggar family) and a new headscarf (which would probably disqualify me from being in the Duggar family after all)- altogether for about $4.

On Friday I was up bright and early and went to one of the community leader's houses to get their signature on my domicile letter needed by immigration. I got their stamp easily enough but still had to go to one more location, the kelurahan or official office of the kampung. Unfortunately they weren't open when I arrived at 7:30 and since I had to be somewhere by 8:30 I couldn't stay. So I hopped on a Gojek and  I started a little weekend of sight-seeing! Although I have seen a lot of the tourist spots in Yogyakarta and the surrounding areas, I was kind of sad that I probably wouldn't have the chance to see some of the places again during this trip. Serendipitously, a friend of mine who had done the summer program I did a couple years after me had a sister who was going to be in town for the weekend and asked me to get in touch with her. Here's the funny thing- as I made plans over Facebook to meet Kayla at the Kraton and sight see a little, it didn't even dawn on me that sometimes people meet up and don't get along at all and DON'T want to hang out. I was right to not worry because we had a ton to talk about and a lot of fun! I am so glad she stopped by Yogyakarta on her way home from a year in South Korea! We met at the Kraton, the palace of the Sultan of Yogyakarta, and walked around the grounds. We spoke to some of the employees there and listened to some men sing but unfortunately since it was Friday (Jummah) there would be no gamelan performance. Because it is the off season, there were very few people there which allowed us to take our time and really check everything out. Of course, when we first arrived I had a couple people try to talk me into going in through a "side entrance" and to take a "special batik workshop" but I knew that was a little scam to spend my money and NOT get to see the Kraton so I declinded politely in Indonesian. Here are a few pictures from the Kraton:

After we left the Kraton we stopped at a little restaurant and then I had to Go-Jek over to the Kotagede Mushollah 'Aisyiyah to meet Linda and interview a couple of the ladies. I recorded a kind of group interview- not my favorite way to do it- on the steps of the mushollah with four women answering my questions. My translator and I had discussed a little bit about how we would proceed and it was a little rough for a first try- I felt like I was talking to my translator, she was talking to the interviewees and the interviewees were talking to the translator. Later on I got some good tips from my husband who has worked with translators before and I've definitely learned how to maintain more of a connection with my interviewees. The women, however, were not around whenever the mushollah started allowing men, so I asked them some questions about Kotagede and their involvement with 'Aisyiyah then wrapped up the interview. This basically ended my use of the Kotagede Mushollah as a research site and I have since moved on to two other locations.
Me in a hijab. The ladies told me I looked Pakistani. The ladies at the other musholla said I looked Arab- well in fact, I am! 

For the rest of Friday and most of Saturday I battled getting sick. Several people in my home here have had a cough/flu and although I had been washing my hands diligently and taking probiotics and vitamins I had a sore throat and an awful headache. Kayla and I had plans to go to Malioboro street- the big shopping street in Yogyakarta- and then the Ramayana Ballet at Prambanan Saturday night. I rested a lot of Saturday and took meds and then felt great by the early evening. Malobioro is a busy street with tons of stores and vendors selling souvenirs. We walked all along one side and she finished getting some gifts for her family. There were such cute things but I resisted buying anything since there would be plenty of time to do that toward the end of my trip. I did see some items for sale that definitely stood at as NOT Indonesian:

I hope no foreigner buys these and rushes to their home country, showing these off as authentic Indonesian cultural items!

We were trying to figure out what to eat for dinner before we went to Prambanan and actually thought it'd be fun to try- of all things- McDonalds! She hadn't eaten McDonalds in over a year and since I don't normally eat that at home it had been ages for me, to. It was super busy in there and the menu definitely had some different items- spicy chicken, samball dispensers instead of ketchup- but it wasn't bad considering.

Then we took a Go-Car all the way to Prambanan, a 9th century Hindu temple, to watch the Ramayana Ballet. Back in 2013 I attended this also, but since it was not the rainy season then the stage was outside with Prambanan as the backdrop and at one point the dancers began setting the stage on fire! This time, we were inside in a very nice theater with a roof but only one wall in front of Prambanan with comfortable seats. Our tickets sat us right in the center front so we had a fabulous view of the traditional performance (not ballet as you would imagine it but beautiful dancing). The performance had beautiful costumes, hilarious parts, great acting, live gamelan music (which I could appreciate even more now that I had taken those gamelan classes back in Wisconsin) and I am so glad I was able to go. During intermission the views of Prambanan were gorgeous.

I got home quite late on Saturday night so on Sunday I laid low and did some reading and research. I figured out there is a little open air restaurant/coffee shop less than a quarter mile from my house and I went there to read and have a strawberry squash. Unfortunately the open-air setting also attracts lots of smokers so once a pair of smokers sat next to me I lasted only a little bit longer before I went back home.

On Monday I went to UGM and met with an ASU professor who also teaches at CRCS (Center for Religious and Cross-cultural Studies) and whose books on Java played have played an important role in my studies. He gave me plenty of advice for my fieldwork and writing and it was very helpful meeting. I also successfully visited the IT department and got my computer and phone set up for the UGM internet. After this I attempted to deliver one of my SPP letters (from Kementarian Dalam Negeri) to the governor's office. I arrived there by Gojek and the police guards showed me where to go but ultimately I found out I was in the wrong place entirely. I returned to the police guards and asked for directions for the right office, Kesbangpol, and the police officers felt so bad for me that one of them gave me a ride on a motorcycle to the office- after I took a group picture with the guards! I arrived at the Kesbangpol office and was shown to the right area where I was told that before I could give them the letter I actually needed to deliver the other letter to the police headquarters, get a permit from them, and then come back to Kesbangpol with other documents like my research permit from RISTEK, my proposal, etc. Before I left the employees asked me to take a picture with them!

From here I rushed over to my new research site, another Musholla 'Aisyiyah, and met my translator there. This was our first time attending and the gate around it was locked. We talked someone who was sweeping and she not only let us in but called one of the leaders who walked over from her house! This Musholla was exactly what I was looking for...but I won't go too much into detail- you can read my dissertation for that. We recorded a brief interview with her about the building and she told us that today was a great day to visit because on the 12th of every month the elderly women of the community gather to receive donations from the organization. Sure enough women began arriving on bicyles, motorbikes and on foot and we all sat on carpets on the musholla veranda. Everyone was very friendly to each other and to us and the female imam gave a brief sermon. After her sermon she asked us to summarize some of the points she made- her sermon discussed five ways to stay happy- and she asked me to answer one! I reiterated her advice to not let anxiety overcome you (something back in the US I battle every day) and I won a prize- an 'Aisyiyah calendar! After the short sermon, two kilos of beras (uncooked rice) and money were passed out to each elderly women. My translator and I made plans to return on Thursday for the Magrib prayer and to join the women as they broke their Thursday fast together.

On Tuesday I went back to the Kelurahan and waited only a little bit before I was helped. My letter was stamped and signed and I had to run down the street to get a copy made and bring back the copy. While I got the one copy I also made copies of my passport, proposal, and research permit in case future offices required them. Then I went to my favorite hang out, the immigration office (attempt number 3) and presented them with my folder including the signed domicile letter (the reason I was sent away last time) only to be told that I needed to include the second page of my TELEKS document and not just the first. I guess the second page is sitting in the UGM printer because I didn't realize I didn't have it! So, I had to give up for the day and go home and print the right paper.

 Later that day I was randomly checking my bank account when I saw that $250 was charged to my debit card on a website that sells discount gift cards. Zack and I had no idea who charged it he called our bank and of course someone was fraudlently using my debit card number. They had charged the intial $250 and were already trying to charge another $250 in gift cards. The bank reversed those charges and deactivated my card completely. This put me in quite a bind considering I'm in a foreign country for another month and need my debit card for ATM withdrawals. The bank was worried they wouldn't be able to get me a replacement card in time in Indonesia and we figured out that we could do cash withdrawals from our debit card without incurring a fee if we just replenished the money within 24 hours. It seemed like the crisis was averted for the time being.

Wednesday morning I left the house bright and early and went straight to the immigration office (#5 visit) and presented my blue folder. I had everything! But, I was told, I needed to now long onto the immigration website, give my TELEKS and passport number, log on, receive a confirmation email that I had logged on, print out the confirmation email and give it to the immigration office. I do not know why this is such a mysterious process or why the immigration office felt l could only handle one task at a time and would only tell me in steps what I needed to bring them over the period of two weeks!

Luckily one of the ICRS employees who has been very helpful to me was there and he said I should be able to print the confirmation email out at a photocopy shop nearby. I called a GoJek and for the first time had a total GoJek fail. I didn't go to the shop I had requested because he kept missing the turn (even with Google maps in front of him) so first he took me to a shop that was closed, then he took me to a shop that couldn't print from email, and just as I was about to lose it he took me to a big shop where I could get computer access. At this point, with all this running around, however, it was 9:40am and the immigration office wouldn't could only help me from 8am-10am.

I couldn't do anything more at immigration so I went on to the police headquarters which is close to UGM. They were very friendly and efficient. They took my SPP letter and required a few other papers that I had already made copies of and told me to return in 7 business days to get their permit. I had some time before I had to be at UGM so I walked across the street to a mall and went to Starbucks. I ordered my favorite drink- an iced chai latte with one pump mocha- only to realize when I picked it up that there is no chai latte in Indonesia, only chai tea bags with milk, water and a pump of mocha. Feeling that injustice was ruling the day, I drank as much as I could and went on to walk around the six floor mall. I had just enough time to pop into a little nail salon and get a mini-pedicure, seeing as most of the time here I am in places that require bare feet.

From here I went back to UGM for the Wednesday forum and listened to a really interesting presentation about an organization that sends young people to live in Jakarta for three weeks with families of different religions to foster tolerance. After, I went home and walked to the nearest ATM to draw out cash for the week using my credit card now that my debit card is no good. I tried a few times but kept getting an error...of course it was the middle of the night in the US so there was nothing I could to besides admit to the third mini-catastrophe of the day.

That afternoon, however, I had the chance to do something kind of different. The kampung that I live in has monthly meetings for the women in the community and my host here invited me to attend. There was a lot of delicious food and tea, I introduced my self, and there were prize drawings and mini-presentations. New residents were welcomed with a gift and plans were made for the next meeting. It was fun seeing all of the women in the co mmunity gathered, some with small children, about 80% Muslim and 20% Christian or other, all participating in the community. My neighborhood back in Arizona is new and we barely talk to each other much less hang out!

On Thursday I left the house at 8am, determined to draw out the money for my payment to immigration (because on top of everything- paying for the visa, paying RISTEK, I also have to pay immigration). Zack had talked to the bank overnight and they assured him that the ATM should work for me. They were...WRONG! It didn't work. I tried a couple times and then my mobile hotspot via my Indonesian phone stopped working so I had no choice but to walk back home. Zack got back on the phone with the bank and they suggsted I find a way to be on the phone with him while he's on the phone with them while I go to the ATM and walk them through what happened. This was impossible- I couldn't walk the half mile to the ATM just to lost internet and not be able to talk to anyone. Besides, the ATM I am using is not THEIR ATM, it is an Indonesian bank that uses Visa (most do not) and it's not like banks work where every time someone tries to draw money out there's someone in real time approving each request. I was getting SO FRUSTRATED. I even walked to another ATM to make sure I wasn't getting a technical error from the ATM itself and still had no luck. Then I had to walk back home. At one point I just had to tell Zack that he needed to emphasize that his wife was in a FOREIGN COUNTRY with NO MONEY and that they needed to figure it out! All of these ATM attempts later (I'm lucky the ATM didn't eat my card) and it was already too late for me to even go to immigration so my entire morning was wasted. And I still had no money except a little bit go get me places by Go-Jek.

The day DID get better, however. I went to my research site and talked to some of the women for a while before my translator arrived. Then we were all served a plate of food (the women fast on Mondays and Thursdays and meet to break their fast at sundown). Then the women prayed in the musholla while I observed. I got some GREAT pictures that I would love to share but I am saving them for the appendices of my dissertation. Everyone then ate more food- since I hadn't been fasting I a was already so full- and we talked to the women about my project and the possibility of interviewing some of them. One of the women wanted to be interviewed right then! We recorded the interview but from now on we are going to do one-on-one interviews because translating and recording can get difficult when others join in with the answers. Being there that evening, however, was like finally experiencing exactly what I had come all the way to Indonesia for and it was extremely motivating. I immediately went home, upoaded and saved pictures and recordings, and wrote everything I could in my research notes for later coding.

On Friday I tried the ATM again and finally it worked! I went from there to immigration (trip #6) and wonder of all wonders, my blue folder and passport were accepted! I have to pay the fee and return next week to take a photo and scan my fingerprints. Then a few days after that I will get my passport back with my KITAS and MERP (limited stay permit and multiple exit re entry permit). Finally, success! From there I went to the musholla where we were told an imam would be giving a sermon that morning. I was surprised to see a male imam who gave a sermon about preparing for Ramadan (sixty-some days away) and the proper movements for prayer. The sermon gave me a lot to think about in terms of blessings/rewards in Islam and there may be a paper to be written in the future about it...

ICRS/CRCS building
After the sermon concluded and most of the women departed, we were introduced to this lovely lady who was eighty years old and had been attending the women's musholla for most of her life. She was so kind and wonderful to talk to and she told us quite a bit about how the musholla and the community were in the 1950s to now. It was a great interview! After, I attempted to take my translator to my favorite Indian food restaurant near the ICRS guesthouse (a restaurant we all went to often when we stayed there in 2013), only to find that it was permanently closed. Instead we opted to split a pizza at the nearby Pizza Hut and discuss the next week of interviews. From here I went to UGM and was relieved to finally have access to the little CRCS library. I had to lock up my bag in a locker and then I found the book that had been recommended to me. When I went to check it out the librarian asked me to bring it back to her in one piece, as if I was going to stare here down as I ripped out the pages one by one and shoved them into my mouth. I responded with an enthusiastic ABSOLUTELY! and was on my way.

This brings me to today, Saturday, which was lovely. I took a nap, I went to the coffee shop and had an iced mocha, I started my book, I waited for the rain (which started about two hours ago and has not let up).

 I've hit the halfway mark! It's bittersweet because although I miss my family, I have so much to do here in such a short time that the countdown is as stressful as it is exciting.

Other random photos from this week:

Cigarette ad- NEVER QUIT, but also, you may die. 

People are willing to transport anything on motorbikes.

A very large, very green grasshopper.

Fruit stand!

Chicken hearts. I had one.
Fried grasshoppers. I abstained.