My recent vacation has allowed me, once again, to see my surroundings with a larger magnifying glass than I’m used to using.
You know how it is…once you make a place your home, you become numb to things after a while. You tend to gloss over its beauty and focus on its annoyances. You tend to lose a bit of the majesty and luster as if you’re immune to its power.
So, getting to show someone around is a great way to get back to those first impressions and awe-inspiring moments that I experienced just a year and a half ago.
One thing that will always amaze me about Indonesia is the vividness. Some places I’ve visited around the world have been awesome, but dull in a certain sense. Everything about Indonesia is vivid to me.
First we have the people. The young and the elderly are the most vivid in my opinion. I love hearing packs of little kids squealing with delight as I say hello or ask how they are. (This reaction is less cute when it comes from a teenager or young adult.) It’s also great to watch the kids with their paper kites, having battles on the open fields behind the school, just like a scene our of “The Kite Runner.”
The elderly, especially in the smaller towns and villages, are unforgettable as well. With feet, hands and faces as tough as leather, they are capable of bearing the hot sun or the annual monsoons and torrential rains. They may look a bit weathered, but they are tough as nails.
Big cities in developing countries usually carry some unwanted odors…there’s no escaping that. However, the scent and taste of Jasmine has become a favorite since living here. Massage oil and lotion, bridal wedding adornment, flavor-infused black tea – Jasmine is all around. I like it so much, and I find it so soothing, that I’ve already stockpiled essential oil and Jasmine tea to bring back to the US. :-)
Finally, there’s dirt. Quite a bit of land is not paved, so I see dirt everywhere. Dirt on the side of the road isn’t anything special. That looks like dirt everywhere else. But sometimes I get to see dirt in a field, from farms or building sites, and it’s the reddest dirt I’ve ever seen. Not reddish-brown like in Tanzania. Not milk-chocolate brown like in Peru. This dirt looks bright red, like a fresh cut of beef. As if the Earth’s skin was sliced open, exposing a wound, proving that the planet is a living organism and recognizing that I’m about the size of a hair follicle on its flesh.
Tree sap is even red too. A slew of trees were cut down nearby to expand the constantly packed road. The trees look pretty common except when one is freshly cut. The layer just under the bark oozes blood-red for a gruesome scene.
With six months left in this country, I may be getting a bit sentimental prematurely, but it’s good to have a reminder to look closely at where I am, and to appreciate what is around me, before it’s gone.