22 November 2010
It’s almost Thanksgiving. It’s strange to experience but not surprising that I don’t miss being surrounded by the atmosphere of the season. I’m not trying to say that I don’t miss (or don’t like) the holidays, but there’s less to miss when you…don’t know what you’re missing? I know what the holiday season is like and it’s such a bombardment of stimuli that it’s inevitable that we’re swept up in the emotions and excitement whether we want to be or not. I suppose the thing we like most about the holidays is the feelings of the season and the anticipation of the actual days—I’m not missing the feeling, I guess, and that’s surprising (so how much of the feeling that I’m not missing can be mine in the first place? How much influence are all of those holiday decorations and Elf screenings exerting on my fragile and apparently easily manipulated soul?!).
I love the holidays but being away isn’t as hard as I imagined. I’m sure it’s because my family is doing such a fantastic job of keeping in touch, not guilting me at all about being away, and being supremely supportive and interested in what I’m doing. Great! I wish I could see everyone, of course, but thankfully I have an amazing family of American and Indonesian friends to keep me tided over until my next Stateside holiday extravaganza (and my fingers are thanking me that I’m not knitting like an insane person, as I normally do from September to January).
Sunday morning at 4:15 I rose for my weekly jalan santai with the kiddies, just a nice pre-dawn walk around the village. We took a new route toward the school and went to the next village over, turning before entering the neighborhoods so we could walk through the sawah, or field (mostly rice paddies, cassava, and corn—the most popular crops). The sun was starting to rise as the girls scrambled from cherry tree to cherry tree, climbing up and down looking for fruit, begging me to scour for cherries the high, far-out branches that they couldn’t reach.
The morning was clear and the view of Mount Lawu, the 3,300 meter mountain at the base of which my village lies, was spectacular. The sight was especially entrancing since I plan to hike it on December 6 and could fantasize about reversing the view, looking at the fields from the summit instead of vice versa. The rice paddies, gentle early morning sun, and light-and-dark green of the mountain held me in a trance—I haven’t climbed any mountains since I was on a day-trip to Switzerland when I was on the edge of seventeen and I’ve been in Indonesia far too long for that to still be true! I was locked in the daydream, blissfully oblivious.
We kept trekking along, stopping at every cherry tree along the motorcycle-worn path. Unfortunately, there was a small hole in the ground in which I tripped and twisted my right foot, but I shook it off and kept going, chiding myself for wearing my too-heavy (but highly stylish) Magetan sandals
The girls asked if it was okay to go home by following the river back to the village, and of course I agreed. We climbed down between the rice paddies, squelching our toes in the mud and staggering down where there wasn’t really a path; I handed off my sandals to one of the gals and carefully made my way down, definitely the caboose of the group—substantial, out of shape (thanks, Indo-patriarchy) American women are no match for spry, waiflike Indonesian grade-schoolers who are hyper from the excitement of dragging the aforementioned American woman through the aforementioned squelchy mud paddies.
We reached the base of the ravine and I looked up over the rice steppes and could just see the roof of my school, tiles rusty brown against the pale blue sky. My feet squished deliciously and I thought about how displeased the Peace Corps medical doctor would be to find out I was walking around a paddy barefooted. The kids helped me down the final few steps into the stream and I cleansed my feet in the horribly impure and waste-filled water, cringing on the inside and trying to keep smiling to prevent from worrying the kids. The stones were cool and the stream was shaded nicely from the sun, not yet too hot but definitely high enough that—coupled with the nerve-wracking descent—I was sweating and relieved to be standing in the fresh (dirty) water; Doctor Leo will certainly give me a phone call if he ever reads this (and probably Dr. Lyn, too, wherever she is in this world).
The ascent was steep but manageable. Had to re-route a couple of places that the kids managed to climb but I definitely wouldn’t have been able to—they like running and jumping five-foot ledges and I couldn’t do that without getting filthy and/or broken. We walked through some backyards and said hello to a few ladies before coming back to the main road and heading home.
I decided to relax on my porch with my book a cup of instant ginseng coffee with milk—my new favorite early morning pastime (wow, that’s a lot of adjectives). I read for about thirty minutes before decided it was mandi time. I stood up just as I realized I couldn’t stand up. My right foot was stiff and screaming! I plopped down, gathered my wits, and decided the course of action: first, stay calm. Second, get to my room without being seen hobbling. Third, elevate my foot and watch Glee. Fourth, hope that by 9:00 am I could walk again since I had scheduled a breakfast picnic with the kids.
Unfortunately, at about 8:30, after two fantastic Glee episodes and a lot of thinking about how much I had to take a shower and pee, I realized I had to give it up. My host parents would have to find out I hurt my foot, I’d have to cancel the picnic with the kids, and my day-off plans of late afternoon walk north to explore the next village over would have to be scrapped.
I hobbled out my back door and headed to Bu Yati’s house. Luckily, my house was empty, so I avoided the confrontation that would inevitably lead to my host mother telling me never walk again, anywhere, ever, and never hang out with any children again, anywhere, ever. Lia and Putri (of Mawar fame) met me and escorted me hand-in-hand about halfway to Bu Yati’s house. Even though it’s about fifty feet from my back door to her front door, I couldn’t make it. I sat down and Lia ran to call her mother. By the time Bu Yati arrived, almost everyone on the block was there, very confused and worried.
I told her what happened and she immediately gave the following advice, considering I told her I was shy about telling Ibu Mama: go in your room and be quiet about it, otherwise she’ll get mad at the kids who took you there and probably yell at them.
So I stayed in my room and hobbled quickly to fetch food and use the restroom as needed during the day. Thankfully the folks were in and out all day, giving me ample opportunity to be deceptive and secretive. Glee and Seinfeld kept me company as I stared at my book guiltily and watched episode after episode.
At about 3:00 I got up to take a mandi and realized I couldn’t walk at all, not even a little bit, and that my problem was my foot, not my ankle. This immediately led to a freakout wherein I called Travis, crying, and got some advice; how was I going to go to school tomorrow? How long would I have to be out? Would I have to go to school with crutches? What the heck had I done to my foot to make it hurt so badly? Would I still be able to hike the mountain in two weeks? What was I going to do about telling my host family?
Unfortunately, at about 6:30, I got too hungry and thirsty to stay in my room any longer and I ran out of Glee episodes. I hobbled out to the kitchen and limped down the stairs before Ibu Mama, who was washing dishes at the sink, looked up. “Ya, Allah,” she said as soon as she saw my abnormal non-walking. She said something in Javanese that I can only assume was something along the lines of “Spill the beans, kid.”
And everything was fine. She told me not to worry about going to school and that she’d call a masseuse for me.
So, I stayed home today and had a massage at 6:30 am. The father of one of my village friends helped me out, a nice old man who’s a farmer and masseuse. It was the most painful massage ever, but… It was magic! I can walk again! My foot is cured!! Plus, I don’t feel like a jerk: I read all day and only watched a couple episodes of Seinfeld.