Friday, May 14, 2004

Hello loyal readers (and I think you know who you are).

First, by popular demand: our mailing address:

Matt and Melody Lumpkin
Manado International School
Jl. Walanda Maramis,
Kolongan 95371
P.O. Box 1627,
Manado 95016
Sulawesi Utara, INDONESIA

Second, instructions/warnings: it’s incredibly expensive to ship things here (must be something about being on an island in the middle of the pacific) and we have not been here long enough to know exactly what we need, yet. However, we deeply appreciate the outpouring of generous offers to supply us with things. Also, if you do decide to send something of your own volition, other ex-patriots (people living out away from their home country) have noticed that packages whose contents had been creatively listed for customs were more likely to arrive intact. For example: if you were sending Sweedish fish you would want to list that as a “vitamin supplement” instead of “delicious sweet sweet candy.” The bigger the words the less likely the customs official is to know it in english. It’s not that big of a deal but packages that don’t look or sound (by way of listed contents) interesting, valuable, or tasty tend to reach their destinations unmolested.

Also, feel free to call us from the states at 62 (431) 812 512 (but bear in mind the 13 hour time difference.

In other news: check our .Mac homepage for a new section with photos of our house and school. Check back later for actual photos of real Asian students complete with cute little uniforms and ties!

We’re slowly tieing down bits of our lives that seemed to all come apart around us when we arrived as we learn how to live here. I now know where to buy towels and other things you just assume you have. I now think I could get into town on my own without having to wait for a car and driver from the school. Thanks to the help of many people, especially Mr. Graham, a British teacher from Manado International School who took me ‘round last night and allowed me the benefit of his some 3 years of experience living in Indonesia.

Tonight I walked to the local “warung” or little roadside, neighborhood store that is more like a walk-in closet to get some soft-drinks and verbally greeted the stares of my fellow evening-strollers with “selamat sore” /good afternoon. One passerby asked if he could come over and talk about some things (everyone wants to practice their English).

When I got back, Edward, my neighbor who just moved here from Jakarta (the capital and I think the 2nd most populous city on the planet) stopped me in front of his gate. We proceeded to chat for about an hour until the sun went down and Melody went looking for me. He had a lot to say about live in the city versus the country and about the upcoming elections. Edward thinks Indonesians are getting all worked up over the upcoming presidential election and that they have every right to. For thirty years under Sohartou no one could really say what they thought politically. Even after his regime fell in 1999, the major parties still controlled a lot of the votes with threats of retribution, firing or literally buying voters. But this is the first direct election ever in Indonesia and the people, as Edward put it, “like in America in 1700’s, people are excited to vote, voting means something, it means that all that they had to keep down inside them before, now it can come out… and you see people talking at their gate, on the street, talking politics because it actually matters this time.” For the first time since I’ve arrived, I really felt like I understood and was understood almost fully by an Indonesian. It was nice.


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