Monday, May 17, 2004

“Bule!” We hear this at least a hundred times when we go anywhere. This is the Indonesian word for white skin (pronounced boo-lay). Another “bule” told us that it literally means “beautiful skin.” Pregnant women have come up to her and to touch her skin, hoping that their baby would be born with the same “beautiful skin.” When we were shopping last night we saw various creams and lotions labeled “skin whitening” or “skin bleach.” The first day we went to the school a lady on staff was telling us about the students’ reactions to us. She said that they thought we were friendly and that Matt was handsome and I was beautiful, “like Adam and Eve.” (When will people drawing Bible stories stop using only Western ethnic traits for their characters?)

This really seems to be a grass-is-greener thing. You can tell when summer is coming in the States by all the tanning advertisements—tanning beds, tanning lotions, tanning sprays, etc. Hmm.

This morning we got up and cleaned. We cleaned the kitchen cabinets with bleach and water. We scrubbed the counters. Matt washed all of the dishes and I ironed and mended clothes (our washing machine is destructive). We did some laundry, which is quite a chore. I’m getting nice biceps from lifting buckets of water to pour into the washer. After working until about noon, we decided to shower. I have learned to appreciate the cold shower. We actually set a huge pot of water on to boil to add to the tank of water (called bak mandi) so we could have warm water to rinse with. It didn’t get used much at all. The cold water felt so much better.

Which brings me to my next point: it’s hot. Somehow people here can wear jeans and long sleeve shirts. This amazes me. I don’t understand how people can live within a rock’s throw of the equator and not own a tank top or a pair of shorts. I understand the more conservative culture. I understand the Muslim influence that says “if we cover the girls the boys won’t lust and thus will be saved from hell.” I just don’t understand how more people don’t just fall over from heat stroke. I guess it’s what you’re used to. And the cold showers do help.


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