I can’t believe the amazing things I have seen, done, and eaten today… or the amazing people I’ve met.
Today was staging day. We met in the hotel lobby and moved into a conference room. First, we finished up our registration paperwork and got our first H1N1 vaccination (I think there will be one more soon, then another in a year). Then, we started talking, doing activities, making skits and silly drawings, and listening to some amazing speakers… a very important regional director for PC was here, as well as the “number two” from the Indonesian embassy in Washington, DC (I’m thinking he’s maybe the junior ambassador?). We finished up our staging by getting our malaria pill package and discussing travel plans. I volunteered to be a group leader and will be in charge of some important stuff tomorrow. At the end of the staging, we were invited to supper at the consul general’s house in San Francisco, one of seven Indonesian consulates in the US.
The consul general’s house is absolutely amazing. It’s full of Indonesian artwork and furniture and it has thirteen rooms. There’s an amazing view of San Francisco (including the Bay and Golden Gate bridges) from the rooftop. The consul general and his wife were amazingly kind and wonderful, as were all of the other Indonesian folks I met there. I even got to practice using some of my Indonesian words and learned a few new ones.
But I’m going to talk about the dinner. During the initial reception, a lovely woman brought out trays of hors d’oeuvres: a spring roll, a coconut bar, and a crazy but delicious gelatin snack that had a green layer, a pink layer, and a brown layer. All three were do delicious! After the consulate general, the regional director, and the embassy representative said a few words, we moved into the dining area. We started the meal out with baso (meatball) with tofu and green onions. Our main course was chicken satay, sauteed vegetables, sweet corn cakes, nasi goreng (fried rice) with extremely, extremely spicy pepper sauce and sweet cucumber pickle, and fried shrimp. Then, the most amazing dessert ever… a clear glass bowl with very thin coconut milk, avocado cubes, jackfruit, tiny baby young coconuts that were so young that they were about the size of a grape and had no milk in the center, and strips of regular coconut meat. It was absolutely amazing! I’ve never had anything like it. Finally, we had some Sumatran coffee with sugar, which was, of course, divine. Plus, the conversation all throughout the meal was just lovely, inspiring, and exciting (yet relaxing… calming).
The Indonesian people I met tonight were so incredibly kind and helpful. They were gracious and tolerant of our questions, which to them, I’m sure, seemed extremely basic and perhaps silly. Their openness and willingness to help us learn a little bit more about Indonesian culture was so comforting.
Tomorrow morning… I’m waking up at 5:45 so I can go with another trainee to get coffee before our departure at 7. Since I’m a group leader, I have to be in the lobby by 6:45, which isn’t that bad. Our flight for Tokyo doesn’t leave until 12 or so, but that just means we’ll have time to talk and have breakfast at the airport (ALL of the trainees, by the way, are totally amazing, impressive, funny, happy, smart, and fantastic people. There are 12 ladies and 8 gents and the regional director gave us all a nice overview of what we’ve collectively accomplished in our lives so far, and it was amazing! I’m so impressed and proud to be a part of this group!).
We have a three hour layover in Tokyo and then it’s off to Bangkok, where we’ll stay for 9 hours and get rooms in the hotel at the airport. Then… Jakarta. I’ll try to post again as soon as possible, but I fear that now is the moment for us to begin reciting our new mantra… “embrace the ambiguity.”
I love you! I think of you! I’ll try to get online again as soon as possible!
XOXOXO, see you in 27 months, America!