Thursday, October 11, 2007

Life in Salatiga

We are at the end of the dry season with the rains expected to start in the next few weeks. In the last two weeks we have had one or two light sprinkles but otherwise it hasn’t rained since we arrived in Salatiga. The temperature has been pretty constant but the humidity has been increasing so it feels more uncomfortable. The mosquito nets stop airflow so we have to have fans directed right at us in order to sleep comfortably. We are looking forward to the rains since it is very dusty though we wonder whether the humidity will also increase.

This past week we had meetings at a hotel near Salatiga. The hotel was on the side of a mountain so the weather was cooler. The Indonesians complained that it was cold but we found it quite nice. My theory is that as a Canadian I am used to large differences in temperature so a few degrees here or there isn’t a big deal. However, Indonesians rarely experience such changes so a few degrees difference is significant. For example, an Indonesian friend drives to work on her motorcycle wearing a leather jacket and sweater because the combination of cool morning and wind makes her cold.

After the meetings, we made a trip to a nearby waterfalls. It was beautiful and I have posted pictures on our Web Album. However, it was also a bit sobering in that this was the place where two MCC’ers were killed in a flashflood several years ago. Apparently MCC, in its history, has had around ten people die. Half of these have been in traffic accidents in N. America. MCC is very insistent on the topic of safety so that people using motorcycles have to wear helmets and that all other vehicles have seatbelts. Here in Indonesia, it is now the law that people sitting in the front wear seatbelts, though this is rarely obeyed and even less rarely enforced. Vehicles here therefore have seatbelts in the front but not in the rear. MCC has installed seatbelts for all seats and strongly encouraged us to use them.

The MCC team is made up of expat service workers, SALTers and local workers. Most of MCC’s work is in education including university and seminaries, but also AIDS/HIV education. MCC has been involved in tsunami reconstruction in Aceh but this work will end soon. This work has been difficult in large part because of political instability in that area. MCC Indonesia works with a variety of partners including three synods of Mennonite churches.