December 2009
on Just Some Things I Rote (Indonesia), 15/Mar/2010 20:07, 34 days ago
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December- A bizarre injury, the impact of being overly competitive on a small island, my brush with the law and a near death experience (okay the last is just an exaggeration but I felt awful, does that count?)Well in December, I decided that it would be good for my health if I started playing football, this it turns out was a mistake. There is a regular afternoon game on the pitch next to my house which i decided as would start playing in again as a number of my local friends play there. Now I should explain, I went into the‘game’ (a glorified kick around on a pitch that is more dust than grass) carrying an injury which was sustained in the most hair raising circumstances imaginable.... doing my washing.A few days before, I had been washing my clothes in my flat and managed to slice my hand. Now, washing your clothes here is no fun whatsoever, it has to be done entirely by hand unless you have the luxury of having someone else do it, which I can’t really afford. Anyway, I was hanging it out on the large drying rack on the balcony of the penthouse. As I lifted the drying rack to move it, my wet hand slipped and a jagged piece of metal that is usefully attached to the rack, slide across my hand. This left me with a 3 inch long (thats about8cm for the metric amongst you) deep scratch across my palm which bled considerably (I now have the scar to show it’s severity). There is a point to all of this.Anyway, I was playing football trying to bring organisation to the defence which isn’t easy, players here have never seen a game except on TV so tend to be tactically naive which normally involves holding a defensive line which is about 10yrds into the opposition half (for the metric amongst you that’s about nine metres and for those who don’t understand football, that’s abad way to play unless you have a defender who is quicker than Usane Bolt, and for those who don’t know who he is, he’s a very fast sprinter but it poses the bigger question of what do you do with your lives if you don’t watch sport? ). Anyway, back to the point, I was playing with my hand taped up. I went up for a corner and managed to get in front of my man and lept like a salmon and was about to slam a header into the goal when I was unceremoniously sent flying by an opposition player, landing on the hard ground, ripping off the dressing and causing more than a little discomfort (it hurt!).Needless to say, I was not happy about this because the guy had no intention to play the ball and was taunting me. Now if anyone has ever seen me play football (or indeed watch football, or play any sport) you will know that I don’t tend to keep my feelings to myself in such a situation so things were said and there were some dirty looks, raised voices and a bit of ‘squaring up’ but nothing really to take too much notice of before I decided to remove myself from the pitch to cool off a bit. AT the end, we both apologised, shook hands (well we would have but mine was bleeding) and went home. I didn’t think anything more about the whole thing until a few days later.Now this is the point of this entire tale, I went out to eat the following night and someone asked me about me arguing with someone whilst playing football, I explained it was nothing, that it’s was fine and finished, that it wasn’t a big deal and that we’d both apologise. Anyway, by the time I went to the shop opposite my house the following day, I was asked if it was true I’d got into a physical fight with the other player and that I really didn’t like the guy! In the following days I was asked by a great number of people about the ‘physical fight’ and was even asked if I had punched him by a variety of people when I went to eat or into shops. So the moral of this story would be; be really careful if you a noticeable person playing football in a small Indonesian town, minor events can be wildly exaggerated! I’m sure that is a lesson that so many of you will find useful at some point in the future...By mid December I was heading off to Bali for Christmas. I was staying a few days in Kupang to do some work with Sam (okay getting him to help me with some work) and then a trip to the police station for some administrative stuff then off to Bali for a holiday. The police station visit is part of VSO’s new agreement with the government, we have to now all register for a sort of a police registration at a regional level whereas previously we just had to register at the local level. Another volunteer had got theirs a few weeks before and it was a 45 minute, in/out sort of task so I wandered along to the police station with my bundle of documents and a full days plans lined up for afterwards, it turned out it was not that simple.Having filled out all the paperwork in triplicate and submitted the photocopies of various letters and documents, I sat there expecting to be given the green light and carry on my day. instead the officer took out a book and flicked through it before stopping on a paged and showing it two me. Now I will admit that my Indonesian isn’t great but do have the ability to be able to read “a fine of 5million rupiah (about £350 but on my income it’d be over two months wages) and/or up to two years in prison for both the individual and their sponsor”. It turns out, I had missed my window of opportunity to do this by some eight and a half months and they didn’t seem to share the viewpoint of ‘better late than never’....SO what followed were a number of slightly worried phonecalls between myself and VSO! Eventually the police agreed that they would meet with VSO as we weren’t in the wrong, it was all to do with it being a new agreement with lack of communication between agencies and it was all very complex but was eventually sorted but it did mean my programme manager had to fly out to Kupang at short notice which didn’t make me popular in the office! Apparently it was just a different policeman to the one the previous vol had seen who was more familiar with the technicalities.So after that stress, I headed off to Bali for a well deserved break. Truth be told, I was in need of the holiday and more than anything, the anonymity. Don’t get me wrong, I love Rote and I love NTT as a whole, but it is quite intense in a lot of ways, as the only white guy in the town and as far as I know, the only white guy to have worked long term in the town, you are constantly watched and observed and talked to. You sort of live your life undera microscope in a lot of ways. So it’s nice to disappear to Bali and just not have people stare as much as they are far more used to having white folks around although it does mean you have to put up with a huge volume of holiday makers, which can be a little tedious at times. I have no problem in general with tourists it’s just Bali is to Australians what the Costa del Sol is to the English. Need I say more?It was a really nice holiday filled with a lot of not much! eating western food, hanging out with folks, generally just having a nice relaxing time. That is aside from climbing a volcano! It’s called Gungung Agung (spelling?) Now climbing a volcano sounds like great fun but if you ever choose to do it, here is some useful information1) don’t turn up in the town that you are starting from at 10pm if you have to get up to leave to walk up the volcano 2am, sleep beforehand is useful2) make sure you have food already bought to eat, not many places are open at 10pm in a small village and even fewer are open at 2am and like sleep, food is a good idea beforehand.3) Volcanoes (well this one anyway) are steep all the way up, there are no plateaus or flat bits on which to rest and resting on a slope is itself tiring.4) Do not pick a day when there is a religious ceremony happening on a religiously significant volcano, although interesting it is somewhat demoralising two blokes overtaking you as you feel like death who have no shoes but are carry a goat/cow/other animals up for sacrifices at the top.5) Don’t forget when you get to the top and admire the fantastic views and you say things like “wow that was hard but worth is for such a spectacular view of the entire island” that you still have to walk all the way back, which strangely enough is the same distance and the same steepness. I’m notsaying it wasn’t worth it, but just remember you’re in reality only half way through your journey and the sun is on its way up making the walk back down sweatier.6) Make sure when you park your car that you do it in a spot which will not be blocked in by people coming to the huge ceremony at the temple. Otherwise, you will return to your vehicle after a gruelling 9 hours only to discover you have to wait another 2 hours before you can shower and eat because you’ve been blocked in!Also went to a couple of other places in Bali around the island. It’s nice to get out and actually see some of Bali, when I stayed there for language school, it was almost entirely in the hustle and bustle of Denpasar. But it really is a beautiful island however there weren’t too many funny tales! I did recently write a top 5 tips for driving in bali though forour volunteer magazine which I will post separately (so any of my volunteer friends can skip past it!).New years eve was a bit of a damp squib to be honest, there was a bomb threat against Bali so VSO said we should all stay away from places with fun parties! Not only that, I was exhausted after the volcano (started at 2am on the last day of 2009) so wasn’t exactly rock and roll exciting!2009 ending was a little strange in a way for two reasons for me, firstly it was the only year of my life when I did not spend one second in the UK which is kind of weird. The second reason is that now when people ask me when my contract here finishes, I have to say‘later this year’ instead of ‘next year’, bit scary really....