Sunrise from my Medan hotel room window on the tenth floor. There are as many satellites as buildings. The four hour drive to Langsa was truly frightening. Our driver, Al, is very aggressive and so are most other drivers. We had three true near misses that made me gasp and close my eyes. The other misses only made my stomach jump up my throat. I had white knuckles the entire journey. Even the driver admitted "that was a close one" [a few different times]. God almighty. Driving on this road will make you pray whether you are religious or not.
From there we met our guide and went another 1.5 hours to a remote village in northeast Aceh. We found out that our contact's father had died the night before. He was hit by a truck while crossing the road after having stopped to check on his car which was having electrical problems. Visiting our village contact's home was a very sad occasion and I felt horrible being an invading westerner on such a tragic day. Her father was beloved by many. He was a very forward thinking, pro education and pro rights for muslim women. Because our contact couldn't take us into the field, our guide did her job instead. Next thing we know we are on the backs of mopeds going over bridges that look as though they will barely hold us. We are passing rice fields, cows and people on bicycles. We go farther into the aceh country side. So far off the world grid, I can't begin to paint the picture for you. It was soooooo far!
From there we are invited into the village women's micro-finance meeting. They fed us some crazy - oh my gawd don't ask what it was- freaky veggie curry, dried whole fish and rice. This entry needs smell-o-vision so you can truly understand the food, toilet, and heat. I need to talk about the heat. It's hot. So hot, I am sweating like crazy, turning red, puffy and dizzy. Words can't do justice to describe the swelter. It's so painful. The drugs I am taking aren't helping me with the heat issues. Both cipro & malarone have swirling head side effects. Right now I think Indonesia feels like a boat rocking in the harbor. By the end of the finance meeting I'd made smiley friends with many of the women. They laughed at me quite a bit and since I could take it I earned their respect. They invited me to stay and learn achenese. When they found out I had a 21 month old son, I became truly bonded and the camera no longer seemed an issue. These people are very warm, generous and kind. It's hard to believe that I spent the day in the heart of what was once the scariest rebel fighting area of the acehnese liberation struggle. What a full day of amazing experiences.
Now if I can just live through the next 12 hours in my hell hotel. There's a frog in my bathroom. The ceiling is dripping. And not just a small drip either, it's a big disgusting leak dripping in multiple locations and the sound is irritating. The ceiling is also covered in mold and rust. The toilet doesn't work. They have a hose on the side so I can fill the toilet with water if I want to "flush". The 12 room hotel is full, I have the last available room. There are holes in the walls. The twin bed has a plastic covering on the head board. It's satin blue. I have one towel, it's blue and very old and not terribly clean. There's no toilet paper, kleenex or paper product of any kind. The mosquitoes are out in full force, but only a few are in my room [so I think]. I am wearing today's sweaty clothes to bed. I am covered in deet. It smells horrid. I'm just thankful there's electricity so I can charge my equipment, play iTunes, and write this posting. Missing home.
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