Monday, December 31, 2007

December 20, 2007

Here’s one of the nicest Christmas greetings I’ve ever gotten. It was written in a card by a small class of pre-intermediate students and given to me after our last class on the 13th.

The front of the card said, “Christmas Greetings for Someone Special,” and inside was one of those innocuous card poems no one ever reads. Then they wrote, “Merry Christmas Mr. Peter… We love you… We always miss you Sir… We are sorry, because we always made many mistakes. Thank you to teach us with very patient. God bless you!! Wish you have a wonderful Christmas with your family & wife.”

Isn’t that sweet?

I also had two classes of 6- and 7-year-olds just finish the other day too. Their last test had some of my favorite mistakes. Our latest unit covered pets and animals, and they had to answer questions about their pets. Here a few especially good ones.

For the question, What does it look like? one said of her dog, “it look like a cat.”

Also for, What does it look like? one boy said of his fish, “it look like medium.” Hmm.

Entering the world of magic realism and poetry… For, Where does it sleep? one boy answered of his pet dinosaur, “it’s sleep of ocean.” Quite beautifully put.

For, What does it do? one boy answered of his cat, “it do like a thief.” Yes. Don’t they all.

And there were two really good answers for, What does it like to eat? “it like to eat plankton,” one boy very logically said of his fish. And another said of his hamster, “it eat born.” Yes. Even this close to Christmas the harsh realities of life have not escaped this child.

Hope your Christmas season isn’t too stressed out. For those of you in retail… my heart goes out to you. I feel your pain all the way across the oceans and hemispheres. For those of you who aren’t in retail, be nice and tip well to those who are. Santa and the baby Jesus are watching.

We miss you all. Merry Christmas!

December 13, 2007

If you’re ever in Southeast Asia, try this at Black Canyon Coffee.

“Hot Espresso with Coffee: Creamy coffee, tasty forming of the Viennese people since their ancestors, a cinnamon stick spices destroying the unpleasant taste of cream, specially and incomparably fragrant.”

It’s pretty good.

Well, it’s time for another update on life in Indonesia – specifically Makassar, Sulawesi and its affect on your friends Peter and Sarah.

We’ve pretty much settled in now near the four-month mark. We’ve gotten through the culture-shock/rage-and-anger stage without offending anyone significantly. (Though there was that driver I splashed with water that got too close and honked at me as I tried crossing an intersection. Hey. I had the green light and he had red… But you should’ve seen his face, dripping with water.) We can now give directions to a taxi driver, order food without being laughed at, and shop at a grocery store without much confusion.

Life has fallen into a routine here. Sarah spends her mornings at the gym, and I spend mine writing. Indonesia feels far less overwhelming now. At school, part of the ceiling fell in (no one was hurt, thank God), my air conditioner has quit working and the power still goes out still, though it’s for a multitude of reasons now… not just one. But these are things that are just part of the scene in Makassar. We just kind of shrug it off now. The ceiling fell in because half-inch thick sheetrock was glued up instead of nailed or screwed. The power went out one day because someone was putting diesel in the wrong opening and it ran out of fuel; another time it went out because an electrical box was sparking and wires were melting. I’m no longer surprised. This is Indonesia. And I don’t feel like my life is in danger.

I’m finding out from observing Indonesian culture – the driving, the construction workers’ conditions (they work barefoot mostly, use ladders and scaffolding made of bamboo), the kids in the street, the infants carried on motorcycles – a lot has to happen before things really go horribly wrong. Americans are way too afraid. Sarah saw some barefoot guys using a concrete saw on a sidewalk the other week. I’ve seen motorcycle passengers carrying ladders and chairs. Somehow everyone seems fine. I have not yet seen an accident where anyone was hurt.

I would not have tolerated lizards in my home in the West either. Now I find myself talking to the geckos here. The one who spends a lot of time under our toaster oven is named Phil. Phil’s all right. We used to have an ant problem in the kitchen. Not anymore, thanks to Phil. But sometimes Phil tries to sneak a taste of Sarah’s cookies when she bakes. We have to talk firmly with Phil then. The other night Phil or one of his little cronies was trying to get into a box of chocolates. Little pieces of chocolate were left on the floor. We threw that box out. There are limits to this alliance.

Oh yeah. And when I get back to the States someday, my ceiling better not collapse. After all, I’m still an American.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

December 9, 2007

This is a public service announcement.

And by “public service” we mean you could help Sarah and me. We had to leave behind our cats Spike and Mixy Mae in the States. Trust us, Indonesia is no place for domesticated animals of any type. Before leaving, we tried believing we could have them sent after us, but that was a foolish dream. Now we need to find a nice foster home for them to stay until October. Sarah’s brother Andy, who’s watching them now, is willing to drive down from Olympia to Portland to deliver the animals.

We do not want to find a permanent home for them. We want them back. They’re good cats. Mixy (11 years old) is de-clawed and Spike (almost 3) does not claw things if you keep his claws trimmed. Both are affectionate (especially Spike). Mixy sleeps a lot.

Our deadline is Christmas. If you can help us out, we’d love you forever. Let us know as soon as possible. Thank you.