Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Banda Aceh 101

Here I am in Banda Aceh. No photo because doing every little thing that you take for granted just seems more difficult. For example, just getting onto the internet. Yesterday, there was no access and when I asked why the answer was, "It's raining!" Followed up with, "And you're in a developing country." Oh. Oh yeah.

So no photo because we are currently experiencing technical difficulties.

It's too bad because the countryside is so stunning. Lush, green mountains, palm trees, breathtaking mosques with shiny "kubah" (the pointy parts) that point to the blue sky and blinding sun. It is hot here. Lots of the saddest, skinniest cats roam around. Roosters and goats, too, in the barracks.

The barracks are the temporary shelters put up by NGOs in the aftermath of the tsunami. They are where people stay when their home was destroyed but they do not yet have a new one. Each family gets a 7x8 m room. Kitchens and bathrooms are communal and needless to say, they get crowded. But today we met a girl, Yuliana, who bakes big fancy cakes in the barracks to sell to cafes. She was in the process of baking a cake when the tsunami hit. Her father was killed. She and her mother escaped and are baking cakes together in the barracks. I haven't seen one of her cakes yet but she was mixing up some batter when I met her and we're going back tomorrow at 6 in the morning to see the finished product as she goes to sell it down the street. I love that Yuliana and her mom are able to create cakes - something so beautiful, light and fanciful - in their cramped quarters. It's about inspiration and will.

I'd like to tell more but I'm on a time budget! Let me just tell you about a very basic function - les toilettes. Here, they don't use toilet paper. Instead, there's a large basin of water next to the squat toilet. On the ledge, a scoop. You use the scoop to splash water onto yourself and your left hand to wipe (hence, Indonesians never use their left hand to pass you anything or to shake hands). The water in the basin is always clean (although the water in the bathroom at the CARE office is green-brown and muddy). You also use that scoop and basin of water to shower! Which I did this morning. It was actually kind of fun. But cold! I felt like a kid with a pail on the beach, just continually dumping water over myself. Scoop, scoop! Refreshing!

Ok - now after a long day of shooting in the relentless humidity and heat, we are going back to the CARE house where we are staying. Apparently they have yoga there on Wednesday nights. Also, there will be dinner after. I wonder if I'll be able to stay awake. Can one fall asleep in the downward dog? I'll find out.


Blogger ct said...

wow! amazing stuff, sung. all of us miss you lots and wish you well. keep us posted. stay safe.
- chico

8:13 AM  

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