Friday, November 30, 2007

Notes on Life In Sentani

Gross: peeling open your banana to find a nest of earwig larvae....

Christmas booths: have started up for the season again. These are booths that people set up wherever they want, decorate them according to what they think Christmas means (photos will be posted at a later date) and play loud, loud mostly Christmas music, sometimes 24 hours a day...

Rain: lots and lots of it - maybe there's hope for our grass yet!

Abscessed tooth: Icelina's is swollen again-took her to the dentist and now we're trying different antibiotics to get the swelling down so that tooth can come out. (yuck...)

Crazy hair day: I razored four letter "A's" onto Aidan's head and he doesn't want them to go away so he didn't want to have his hair washed.

The traffic on our road: DEAD!!!! YEAH!!!!

The condition of our road: bumpy, potholey, and muddy (in spots)

The mall: has a new restaurant and optical place... we're moving right along here

Brussel Sprouts: spotted for sale in the new supermarket... wonder how long they'll stay in the store... (not my favourite...) and they made the long boat trip from France...

Marc: today was his last day being three!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Here is a shot of Brynnie playing with Rode (Roeday) daughter of Ibu Rita. They had quite a lot of fun together.

Wow, our trials here are nothing compared with what this family is going through right now:

Be sure to keep them in your prayers.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Big news! The new bridge is open!! Yippee!!

On Friday we had this couple (see photo) over for dinner. Al and Kathryn Fortin who originally hail from Calgary but last lived in Barrhead, Alberta. Some of you may know them! They are both teachers at the kids school. Kathryn is Mikah's teacher.

Last week Wednesday we had the pastor of our church and an elder over for an official visit. They plan to celebrate Lord's Supper the beginning of December so they wanted to visit with us with regards to this. As I was just finishing reading the boys a book when they arrived, Hugo served them tea. Not cultural here to have the man serve.... The pastor, Rev Dikon (I think that's how you spell it) likes to talk that's for sure. He talked so much that he forgot about his tea which by the end of the evening was swarming with ants....

Saturday, November 24, 2007


Okay, I tried to get these photos in order, but that's just so hard to do with Blogger. Anyways, this is what I experienced when I drove Marc and Kaya to preschool this week. Driving here is soooo crazy. By the time I reached the preschool, I was shaking... First we drove up the road from our house (photo with mountain in background). That road gets kind of crazy further up, the potholes are huge. Then I took the "short cut" down the hill. At the bottom you have to go through a river (photo number 4). But, before we could even get to the river, we had to squeeze by the little black pick-up truck (photo 6) that had a front wheel broken off. They were in the process of unloading all the bricks out of the back end when we arrived on the scene. Then they tried to push it forward which of course doesn't work with a wheel that is separating from the axle. Then they picked up the back end and swung it over a bit. Then we could just squeeze by with literally inches to spare. Then we went throught the river and turned onto the road in photo 6. As you can see they have decided to widen the road. So there is a very narrow path to drive on and as you go further you are driving between the tar fire and the guys arranging the gravel nicely by hand. Then we passed by the door-to-door vegetable truck (photo 5). Had to squeeze by him and then we had to squeeze inbetween an old rusty oil barrel and some bamboo poles before we could turn onto the main road. After briefly driving on the main road, we had to turn onto the incredibly skinny road in photo 8. We passed by quite a few people on that road and I prayed I wouldn't run over anyone's toes as we passed by. Finally after turning onto another equally skinny road we had reached our destination. I dropped off the kids and started the drive home. Going home we go a different way because then we are going the right way in order to cross the temporary bridge (it's one way for cars). The "entrance" to the bridge is photo 3. All these vehicles and motorbikes converge and have to make their way across the bridge (photo 1) while watching out for motorbikes going the other way. Then once you're across and you've driven up the bank, we turn onto our road. Our road is a mass of potholes and bumps. I rarely make it out of second gear.
Things about driving we've just gotten used to:
  • passing oncoming traffic with just inches to spare
  • liberally using car or motorbike horn
  • avoiding potholes, oncoming traffic, motorbikes and pedestrians all at the same time
  • rarely going over 40 km an hour, usual speed: 20 km per hour
  • watching for motorbikes trying to pass you on the inside even though you're making a right hand turn (like a left-hand turn back home)-crazy how often that happens

The other day some guys were filling some of the potholes on our road. As you pass by them you are expected to put some money in the card board box being held by one of the guys. I'm not sure if they just decided to fix the road on their own and make some money doing it or if they are told to do it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thanks to those who gave us some advice and encouragement regarding our communication issues. We are here, the Lord willing, for the next 2.3 years (the countdown So we have some time to establish relationships. I recently spoke with a wise woman who lived here for many years and she encouraged us to find an Indonesian family to get to know and have them over to visit and have their kids play with our kids. She said that's the best way to allow your kids to interact with local kids as opposed to opening your yard to them. So now we just have to find a family that fits the bill...

Hugo wanted me to post this photo of the maintenance guys here cleaning a Cessna 206 that was recently stripped of its paint. They are going around the rivets with their little brushes to strip the hard-to-get areas that the paint stripper can't get at. Planes don't need to get repainted very often, maybe once every 5-10 years, but this plane was showing some corrosion and when they tried fix just those spots, the rest of the paint started coming off too. Turns out its last paint job in the States had been less than stellar.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Well, the news from here is that we are enjoying sporatic power outages. There is supposed to be a schedule of when our power will be turned off for the day, but it doesn't seem to happen when it is supposed to. Oh well, the generator is holding up so far...
Here's another thing that I'm struggling with a bit. Talking with the locals. It is brutal to try and have a conversation with them. You have no family in common or people that you both know from other churches (do you realize how connected the Can Ref church really is?), you have a different culture which also means different priorities and I'm having to do this in a different language! There are times when I've been having a "conversation" with a local and then some of her friends will come up and they'll start talking Papuan or something and I'll feel just like you do in grade 8 when you're trying to get to know a new group of people and you feel like an outsider and they don't make any effort to draw you in. We are really trying to get to know the people at church better, but they aren't making an effort from their end so it makes it really hard. I did manage to have two fairly long conversations with one of the men at church - we talked about computers... I know that finding a common interest is good, but doing that can be brutal too. The man owns a computer shop and was working on upgrading our desktop computer so finding a common ground with him wasn't rocket science.... But the women are another story! Any advice from the experienced is welcomed with open arms...
Just a goofy pic of Marc with his Cat in the Hat hat from preschool...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Today I had an interesting experience. On Monday one of my helpers (yes, I have two helpers, didn’t plan on that it just sort of happened) came in with an incredibly swollen cheek. I don’t believe that I’ve ever seen a cheek that swollen before. She couldn’t even open her mouth. So I gave her some Tylenol as that was all I had in the house and suggested she go to see the doctor. So today is Wednesday and she didn’t come in again so I decided to go and find her. I knew approximately where she lives and went down that way and asked a young woman who has a warung (small shop) where Icelina’s (pronounced Eechayleena) house was. She locked up her shop and took me there. I had Brynnie with me, Marc was at school, and we were on the motorbike which I parked in front of the warung. So we descended into the kampung there. It really felt like I was in a campsite, not a Canadian one mind you as there were no fire pits and picnic tables, just old rusty oil barrels and pig pens among other things… We walked over an incredibly rickety bridge that was made out of some wood and some metal stuff that had big round holes in it. We, thankfully as the river is disgusting, made it over safely. Icelina lives with her dad, her parents are sadly divorced. Her mother is actually my old helper from four years ago. Anyways, we yelled hello at the door but it turned out she was bathing. Bathing happens in a little hut underneath the rickety bridge… So out she comes with nothing but a large towel wrapped around her. She went inside and I continued to watch the half naked little kids running around while their mothers watched me. Brynnie is not shy at all and marched right into the house and went straight into the kitchen at the back. The young woman showing me the way followed her to make sure she didn’t get into trouble. I was a little shy of just entering and hung by the front door. Their “living room” was just that, a room. There was absolutely nothing else in that room whatsoever. NOTHING… The rooms inside were built using plywood and were painted a lovely shade of bright blue. Anyways, Icelina got herself dressed and I asked her how she was doing and if she’d been to the doctor or not. Well, she was still quite sore and couldn’t eat, only drink and no she hadn’t been to see anyone yet. I offered to take her to a dentist if she knew of one that was half decent. So she borrowed a helmet, strapless no less, from her friend and off we went on the motorbike. Fairly recently a new hospital has been built a little ways out of town. She suggested we go there, in as few words as possible. Papuans are very shy people and really don’t say much in general. You really have to look at their faces and read their body language to get the whole picture, which is really hard to do while driving a motorbike. I have to say that I rather enjoyed driving out there. The road was smooth with no potholes, once we got outside of town, and there was very little traffic. So we buzzed along at 60 km an hour, which I’m telling you, feels like you are flying as the majority of the time we drive at speeds of 20 km per hour or so… Anyways, we made it there and we went in. It is a fairly nicely designed hospital and looks nice. However, it also looks like they kind of ran out of money as there is not much in the place. So we got Icelina signed up to see the dentist and I had a little chat with the nurse there. She informed me that all services are still free as they don’t actually have their license to practice for money yet. Whoo hoo! I also informed her that I didn’t have a lot of time to wait as I had to pick up my son from school in a bit. So she told me she’d bump us up on the list… Cool… At that point Brynnie really, really wanted something to drink so I asked if there was somewhere to buy drinks. Yes, there was, up there somewhere. They are always so vague here. So off we went to look. We walked around and didn’t see anything resembling a warung or snack bar. So I asked a security guy and he led me there. Well… They are still excavating at the back of the hospital and we had to walk over some rather large stones and around some stuff and then we came to a little “house” and went to the back door. I bravely looked in and there were some people sitting inside cutting up vegetables. There were three woks going on the right hand side and on the left side about a foot and a half higher was where they were cutting up the food and where there were a few shelves with dried foods and a small fridge. Yes, they had juice and thankfully they had straws in sealed packages… So we made our way back and in a few minutes it was Icelina’s turn. She sat in the chair in front of the dentist, who was a woman – she looked Papuan to me – and they discussed all the same things I had discussed with her earlier. The dentist then prescribed an antibiotic, an anti-inflamatory, a pain killer and a vitamin (always prescribed here). So we decided to get those in town instead of at the hospital pharmacy. So 55,000 rupiahs later, she had her stuff. I paid for it of course. So that was my adventure for the morning. I have to say that everything went extremely smoothly and quickly which is really not the norm for life here in Indonesia.
P.S. Sorry, no photos, forgot to take the camera with...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

As I'm writing this I can hear the sound of thunder. So I'm taking a chance leaving my phone line and ethernet cables connected to my computer. Here, these lines are not protected from surges and so anytime there is a thunderstorm you risk your motherboard or modem being fried. Yes, we still use a modem here. However, most of the time we access the internet through the V-Sat but if I want to blog I need to use our modem as MAF internet blocks all blogger sites. Anyways, I will surge on... heehee... and keep typing in spite of the thunder which sounds like it is moving away from us.
One dilema that I'm kind of struggling with is how to deal with the local kids that come around. They want to play with our bikes and any other outside toys we might have. I feel sorry for them because they don't get to play with much stuff at all. But... our neighbours have tried to let the local kids play. They would limit the numbers they would let in their yard. However, now the kids are there at their gate first thing in the morning yelling out asking if they can play. And they don't stop. So our neighbour will go out and tell them that today is not a good day so they won't be allowed. But the kids will often still hang around in the hopes that she will change her mind. Or they will go in anyways if the gate is unlocked. The other problem was that if she let them play and then their time was up, they wouldn't listen when she told them. They would just keep playing. Part of this is that Indonesian kids, at least the ones around here, just don't respect their elders. They are not taught to respect and the respect is generally not earned by the parents either. It is not that uncommon to see a mother throwing rocks at her older boys. Anyways, until this point, I have not let local kids play in our yard. I will let them drink water or fill their water bottles at our tap and I will also let them come in to sell things but not to play. Expats who have been here for a long time compare the local kids to ants. If you have the sugar they will just keep coming and coming and will wear you out. So for now, I prefer to keep my home a quiet, peaceful place for my family alone. And of course any visitors we might invite... On that note I would like to say that our door is always open to any one who wants to come visit out this way....
Selamat Hari Minggu!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Notes on Life in Sentani...

The first photo is Marc with the train track that he created. He almost always makes straight tracks... I guess he's just a straight up kind of guy... And he insisted on wearing his motorcycle helmet for the picture.

The second photo shows how Aidan was attired at supper yesterday. One of the first things he does when he comes home from school is take off his shirt. Today, however, he didn't as yesterday he got eaten alive by mosquitoes after playing outside in the trees without a shirt on. He is proudly displaying the genuine "plastic/gold" medal he received from his teacher after reading all three stories in his Sing Spell Read and Write story book. (I'm not sure how much he actually read and how much was simply memorized...)

And the third shot is a completely gratuitous photo of our little cutie... How could I resist posting this one?
The fourth shot is of Christiaan's watch. It's HUGE. But he loves it because it tells him the day of the week, the date, it has a stopwatch and a light and you can turn the dial and oh yeah, it tells time too... So coooollll!!! He bought it for 40,000 rupiahs with his allowance.

So life here has settled into a routine of sorts. Everyother day we go without power for fairly long stretches. Apparently it's going to be like this for a while. This is in spite of the six new generators that the city installed recently. I think they must be running out of fuel...

For the past three days the area my helper lives in has had no running water. No one seems to know why but the result is that we have a lot of people, mostly kids, coming to the door asking if they can fill their jugs at our outside spigot. As our tap water is actually drinkable, we are the prime location for people to get water.

One of the first projects that Hugo is diving into in his new role as Avionics manager, is to clean up the radio shop. There just hasn't been time for the other two guys to even think about doing this and therefore it hasn't been done in many, many years and Hugo is really eager to have some real space to work with. He hardly has room to put his tools. Today he came across a wack of old passport size black and white photos. Back in the day, everyone who had an HF radio had to send a photo to the government. I already found a couple old pics of people we know. Plan to post them at a later date once I've been able to find some more.
I asked one of the little girls who hangs around here how her friend who got bitten on saturday was doing and she is doing well. She needed 8 stitches, some of them on the inner layer of skin.

I guess that's about all the interesting news from here! Hope all's well on your end!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Notes on Life in Sentani....

We've had a fairly uneventful week up until today. Hugo was busy working on finishing up the installation of the new radio stack in the caravan.
This afternoon Aidan came running in the house and told me to come because an Indonesian girl had been attacked by a dog. So I went out to check it out and sure enough a little girl of about 10 had been fairly badly bitten on the back of her leg. One of the other expats had come too and was going to take the girl to her parents and see what they wanted to do. Unfortunately the owners of the dog were in Jayapura when it happened. The little girl was very brave and we got her over to our porch and I cleaned up the wounds with some clean water until the other expat came and got her. Poor kid, I felt so bad for her and she was being so brave about it. It turns out that the dog had just given birth earlier that day in a ditch that ran underneath a driveway and the girl was between the mother dog and the puppies in the ditch. So the mother dog was just acting on instinct and trying to protect her pups. Now she will most likely be put down. I haven't heard any more news about the little girl yet. Later the people taking care of the dog for the owners managed to get the mother dog out of the ditch and lock her up. But then someone had to get the puppies or they would die. So they dug the entrance to the ditch a little bigger and one of the skinnier boys went in almost up to his ankles and managed to get all the puppies out. So that was our big excitement for the day.
Interestingly, the home that the dog's owners live in is actually a converted quonset hut that was used for storage by the American army in World War 2. The roof is still rounded and the house actually looks quite neat.