November 23, 2010

A Trip to the Beach(ish).

Jakarta is a coastal city.  We are on the north coast of the island of Java, and the city runs in all directions from the ocean about 25 miles.  

Our house is about 15 miles directly south of the coast, and last weekend we finally had our lives in order enough to do something for no good reason, so we decided to explore the beach area.  

Unfortunately, the bad news is that like the people of Ghana, the people of Jakarta do not consider their beaches to be prime real estate.  

The mess, litter and runoff of the entire city run to the sea here, so the water is polluted with that and other questionable ingredients, and rafts of trash float into the breakwaters and collect in the corners of the sea walls.  

There is a chunk of the beachfront area reclaimed from the industrial works and slums and turned into an amusement park/marina/city park area and it attracts many people on the weekends.  

There is even a section of water cordoned off for swimming, but after looking at the water you would, in my opinion, have to have a need to become ill in two or three ways at once to brave it.  Suffice to say I don't swim in water the color of used dishwater on roast beef night, especially when it has stuff floating in and on it.  

But on to cheerier things!  

We love official signs translated wrong.  They always make us smile, and remind us that no matter how bad our Indonesian is, all will be forgiven.  

So here's today's Good Sign:

Since we know for a fact that we ask people stupid things like "Us soon drinks?" we feel solidarity across the language barrier. 

Dilarang is a word you see often- dilarang parking, dilarang enter, dilarang dumping.  And if you pronounce that 'c' as 'ch', you will sound like a native. 

[dee-lah-rahng meh-mahn-cheeng] 

Go ahead and practice, no one will hear you. 

To the right of that sign and the marina behind it, are the grounds of the beach front park. 

People just bring their families and hang out.  You can rent little shade cloths that are set up under the trees and put your beach blanket in them and just chill. 

In the tropics. :-)

The sidewalks along the sea wall are fun...

The red thing coming towards the camera is the ice cream man.  He even plays ice cream man music. 

Views to the water from the red brick road...

The roofs are little fish cleaning/shade huts.

Combination of humid air/water vapor and pollution.

These boats sell rides.  If we ever do this, I'll take you with.

November 8, 2010

Our Ship Comes In...


Our ship came in on schedule and our shipment actually got through customs a little faster than expected, so on Wednesday October 27th, our things were delivered to us by a crew of 15 Asian Tiger employees (10 at the house, 5 at the dock).  

Where have I been since then?  Buried under a mountain of boxes, paper, books, dishes, clothes, and furniture scattered around willy nilly. 

Every time we move, I say "no more!" - then in a few years I say "Okay!".  This is house number 15, move number 14 in our 32 years of marriage, so I guess we are unregenerate.

We can, however, see the end of our moving days coming down the pike because we are not as limber or tough as we used to be. A day of bending, lifting, shoving, and reaching leaves us with a wicked set of aches and pains, and sends us to bed at night exhausted and hopped up on Motrin. 

Anyway.  Here are some pictures of the arrival of the first lift truck (our street is too narrow for the container, so it was offloaded into 4 lift trucks [10 crates]).  

Watching the lift truck squeeze onto our street...

10 minutes into a 20 minute squeeze. This first pass was a challenge.

Finally in.

The ten guys who worked at the house were ready and waiting, and when the crates were opened Ted and their supervisor stood on the porch and checked off inventory on duplicate lists, while I stood in the foyer and directed each box to its proper room.  

Every room had been labeled with little taped papers, and the bedrooms had been labeled in Indonesian number words.  

I kept having to count on my fingers to remember the correct word for the room I needed- while ten guys backed up and waited for Nyonya Collier to get with the program.  

And of course, about 25% of the time I was putting things in the wrong room anyway and they had to be moved later when I discovered my mistake.  

It was hectic, often hilarious, and we all got short breathers as the empty truck left and was replaced by a full one. 

After lunch everyone came inside and the flurry of unpacking began.  Usually we take delivery and toss everyone out, but unlike U.S. movers, the Asian Tigers are very willing to do unpacking and we really didn't have much space for the detritus of moving, so we pointed out the things we wanted unpacked and assembled and the boxes we wanted unpacked (some boxes just shouldn't be unpacked by strangers, for example, our dainties) and we circulated around the house responding to the occasional chorus of "Ooh....!" which meant something had come out of a box or wrapping in a condition not assumed to be good.  

That is the peril of moving, under the column "Things to be expected."

There were times, however, when I would enter a room and someone would be proudly pointing to an item clearly marked FOR STORAGE.  In fact, this happened an alarming number of times.  

I would like to enter the following into evidence... 

And just to put too fine a point on it, here's a closeup of that sticker.

 Now I realize this is blurry, but I am pretty sure that all of you, on a different continent, with a bad picture, can read that.  


Would have been funny once.  Might have been amusing twice.  But we have a pantload of things here with us in Indonesia that had no business being shipped.  Books we've read, furniture we can't use, about half a dozen 110v. small appliances, and incredibly, our Toy Story movie poster, which had been rolled up in a cardboard tube and put in a room that was 100% storage.  Some packer went shopping for a tube sized item to fill a box and voila! it's here with us. 

That is the peril of moving, under the column "Things that Should Not Happen".  

And of course, the B side of our unexpected (and unwanted) booty is the unfortunate counterpart- things that were sea shipment that got put in storage.  

For instance a brand new room sized rug, Ted's noise canceling headphones, and things we haven't missed yet, but will, which will start a new frenzy of bad language and pointless stomping around the house wishing ill on our packers.

We'll get over it.  But it's still annoying.  So I whine to you.  

There is a third column, "Things I Didn't Know Could Happen".  

I figured cast iron was pretty safe, movingwise.  Ha!  Nope.  Check it:

Cast iron candle holder.  Cracked and bent at the solder.  So technically the cast iron didn't get damaged, but still...

I can use this one when I want my melted wax to be offloaded onto the floor automatically.  

Oh wait, I probably don't want that.  Ever.

Again, small problem in a world with lots of actual problems.  

A little bending, a little solder, and it's good as new.  But the Asian Tigers all gathered around this one when it came out and made all kinds of fussy noises.  This was a first for them too.  

At one point, the Basket o' Dog Things was unveiled, and Elliot was ready to check his squeaky toys for damage...

He was relieved to find, after exhausting tests, there was no damage and all toys were  in squeaking order.  

As you can see, Dead Frog and Soft Box with Balls won the "I Missed You Most!" Sweepstakes.

So once these... 


and these...

Became more like this...

...we reached a moment of truth.  

I have never had the movers unpack my kitchen, because I rarely know how things are going to be stuffed into my cupboards.

I usually end up arranging and re-arranging in an endless loop of "close to the dishwasher for unloading" vs. "close to the island for cooking" indecision.  

But our Asian Tigers were present, willing, and our small kitchen was, well, too small for all those boxes. 

Tidy, for sure, but not really accessible.  So my agreement to let them unpack the kitchen was met with bright smiles and an immediate flurry of activity in the kitchen.  

 There were actually five guys in there at one point... one of them sitting on the floor carefully arranging as many things as he could in the bottom cupboards since all the upper ones were full, and we still ended up with the back third of the kitchen floor full of dishes, glasses and pans.  

But all my boxes and paper were gone, and that was the ultimate goal, so yay.  

By 3 o'clock all our stuff was in the house, and a very major chunk of it was released from its cardboard bondage. 

Everyone disappeared in a pile on one of the lift trucks, waving and shouting goodbye, but by that time my camera was hopelessly lost in the mess so you'll just have to use your imagination. 

In the succeeding days in an attempt to keep my blood pressure at unnacceptably high levels, I found some choice items to remind me that moving is just hard on your stuff. 

And in the end it's just stuff.

But here's your parting shot in case you are tempted to move anytime soon and want to be talked down off that particular ledge...