October blog
on Just Some Things I Rote (Indonesia), 08/Mar/2010 19:01, 34 days ago
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October: VSO giveth and VSO taketh away.....Well October was a very strange month which was a result of two messages from VSO which both came somewhat out of the blue. Firstly, I got an e-mail from my manager saying that the love of my life here in Rote, my lovely shiny megapro which I loved, had to be returned. It turns out there was a clause in a contract which VSO had with another organisation which meant that the bike had to be returned to the local NGO where it had originally been placed. It was a very upsetting experience; we had become very close over those few months. We had been through a lot together; in august we even hit our first cow together after it had been hiding at the side of the road and then in what can only be described as bovine suicidal rush, jumped out right in front of us, thankfully neither of us were injured, not even a scratch on her beautiful shiny wheels. Add to that on the‘hit’ list, 4 chickens (they few into us) and on the ‘near miss’ list there were- numerous dogs, herds of goats and a fully grown sprinting pig....But alas, those days of freedom were over. I should point out I still had access to a bike as I would then be sharing the GL Max with Suzanne. now the sharing wasn’t so much as the bike itself. It’s a perfectly fine bike, but it’s a push at 6’2” (and let’s face it, fairly solidly built even after the weight loss) to comfortably ride a 160cc bike, so then trading it in for a 125cc bike is going to be tough. It’s possible but not especially comfortable. It also means sometimes overtaking uphill can be quite tricky. It is however still preferable to and (just about) quicker than walking.However, VSO had not finished‘taking away’ (I’m not blaming them for either problem incidentally!). It emerged that in fact under the new rules of our visa agreement, Suzannes job was no longer viable. This meant that at the end of her visa (in March), VSO was not able to extend her VISA. Now this was quite a blow for herreally, when you consider that she wasn’t able to be in Rote for several months due to her medical dog related problems, then she had just started to feel settled and get some good work done when she was told she would have to leave early. She was, understandably upset by this.So she started looking at alternative jobs and options, but generally not fun. In one way however, she was very fortunate; she still had to 6 months to run on her visa. There was a volunteer couple working over in Flores who only had a few days left on their VISA when they discovered it could not be extended. After some negotiation with the government, VSO managed to get them an additional two weeks in which to pack up all their work and belongings and leave the country.October also saw my parents come to visit me in Indonesia. We had a week in Rote and then I took a week off and we went over to Maumere in flores for a week. It was great and they actually did really well as it was insufferably hot even for Indonesia, so to go from an English October to the hottest time of the year in Indonesia and survive was quite an achievement.We didn’t actually do that much whilst we were away, I really just needed some time off so it was a lot of time spent on the beach of our hotel sipping juice and enjoying the food! As well as being able to enjoy the company of my father, someone who not only likes but actually understands English football, it had been a long time since I’d been able to talk to such a person at length!One day however we did hire a driver and head off across Flores. Our main destination was the‘three coloured lakes’ which are... well.. three lakes which are different coloursINSERT photoWell actually, when we were there, it was only really 3 lakes, 2 colours. They are on top of a volcano and it’s some mineral that changes their colours. After a somewhat slow start to the day (our driver was actually about two hours late because as it turned out, he’d been up late in/losing a fight with someone) but after that we headed across Flores. It was several hours drive but when you get there,it is amazing if not really really weird. The whole thing just feels completely surreal.After that we toured around one or two other places nearby. We went to one town well known for its weaving of local cloth (Ikat) and the driver asked if we wanted to stop and buy some my father and I shrugged and looked at my mum who said no. by this point, being off season and there being a dearth of tourists, women from all around had started to bring their cloth out. so we drove through the village until my mum suddenly said‘actually I really would like some, can we go back?’.So we returned to the market/selling area. Now by this point we had just driven the length of the village TWICE allowing every would-be seller to see us and come out. Now I had already told my parents this village was well known for really harassing you into sales so wasn’t overly chuffed at giving plenty of notice of our prescence!BY the time we made it back to the buying area, the whole village had become like a scene from‘night of the living dead’, scores and scores of women walking towards us with their arms outstretched in front of them (with ikat hanging off them) all calling out ‘cheap cheap, special price and other such slogans’.I should also point out, although I love my mother dearly, she is a nightmare in such situations. All of these women are independently selling and my mum takes a long time to decide about purchases, in which time the crowd is getting steadily larger. When she does decide on what she wants, she then asks me to try and negotiate“X amount for these three” not realising that each one belongs to a different woman. Eventually after an eternity we return to the car with purchased ikat, as I get to the car I see that my father is stood there joyfully pointing every seller towards me.But anyway, aside from that, it was a really nice week, it was nice to catch up with them and they even brought me loads of gifts, including a fedora which I love although I’m fairly sure most of those around me are yet to be convinced.