Written by Kristine, Co-Director, Jakarta.
I now depart Indonesia after 308 days of living here. It’s been exactly 44 weeks of highs and lows, 10 months of ups and downs. And it’s time to say goodbye. To be perfectly honest, I’m ready to go but I cannot leave without acknowledging all the good that has been Indonesia for me.
A big part of the good was made up of some really, really nice people. Starting close to home, there was the 7-Eleven crew. For months, I went there to get my coffee at least 5 mornings every week, and whoever was on duty greeted me with a smile and sometimes a cheery “Pagi!” (good morning). My food purveyors have also been good to me, like the fruit cart where I bought whatever they were selling. I know that they overcharged me but it was so little money when I thought about it that I accepted their price, whatever they told me. The boys who usually man the cart were unfailingly polite and respectful to me, patiently helping me with my words when I had trouble communicating, and laughing with me when I said something stupid (yes, they were laughing at me sometimes but they did it in a nice way). The mie aceh guy and the ayam bakar guy were also good to me, getting to know my order even before I could speak, and always serving me with a joke (mie aceh guy) and a smile (ayam bakar guy).
My neighbourhood transportation experts must also be acknowledged. All the Go-Jek guys who unfailingly shouted, “Hallo, meeeeees!” and waved when I walked by, and the Bluebird taxi crew who greeted me with, “Hallo, Krrrreeeeeestin, how are you today?” whenever they saw me. They brought me little moments of pleasure, even when it was just a chuckle.
Some of our local volunteers here have stood out to me because of their kindness and generosity of spirit. Addina, who took me to her friend’s wedding; Nancy, who took me for nights on the town; Siti, who invited me to her home to eat with her family and meet her students and neighbours; and Sofwah, who let me ask her anything and answered it all so wonderfully.
Indonesia has restored my faith in the goodness of humanity, and it has given me profound experiences. I have seen and done things here that never previously entered my realm of possibility to experience. I have sat (or hung off a mountain) and watched erupting volcanoes, visited an island within an island, and meandered around ancient temples. Indonesia has been a gateway to making lifetime memories in other Southeast Asian countries – Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia and Laos.
In Indonesia, I have had to confront the issue of colour and decide on how I should handle it; this was something I never had to deal with before and now I’m more prepared to deal with it in the future. In Indonesia, I learned that I can adapt even to the point of learning another language, maybe not to expert proficiency but at least enough to get by in daily life.
Indonesia, being here has helped to expand my heart, and for that I say thank you. I don’t know if I shall pass this way again but I can say with all honesty and sincerity that it was very nice knowing you.