On Easter Sunday, I flew to Penang to get a new Indonesian visa. On Easter Monday afternoon when I got back to my hotel after blissfully wandering the streets of Penang all day, I got a message from A telling me that on Thursday we would be leaving Banda Aceh, transferring to a different centre because things were not looking good with the Acehnese Imigrasi. Since their first visit when I just got there in February, they had unexpectedly dropped in at the centre once more and they had set an impossible deadline of the end of March for us to present the documents they were demanding. She had been back to their office that day to show them that we were working on getting them what they asked for and to request an extension of their randomly set deadline but they would not be moved. So our boss decided that the best option for the organisation was for us to vacate Aceh and have an Indonesian from another centre go to Aceh to continue running it and to try to sort out the document issues.
This move was sort of a shock to me but not really. As I mentioned before, I had packed my stuff before leaving for Penang, just in case the Imigrasi lost patience and decided to kick in the door before I returned, but I wasn’t expecting that we would voluntarily need to move so soon. However, I’m not going to lie; I was happy to be done with Aceh. Although I would have stayed there as long as God kept me there, I was glad to be done with it.
My boss allowed me to decide to which of the organisation’s 3 other Indonesian centres I wanted to relocate. After asking colleagues at each of the other centres some relevant questions about cleanliness (my only major criterion), I chose to transfer to Jakarta. A decided to do the same so on the last day of March, we left Banda Aceh.
In some ways, Jakarta is paradise in comparison.
First and most important, there’s a lady at the centre here in Jakarta who cleans. Did you get that? I do not have to clean anything except my own space. Hallelujah and amen! This lady also cooks and her food could be soaked in more grease so I’m calling that a positive. Also, she cooks enough quantity and variety of food each day so that everyone who lives here can have lunch and dinner. That means my monthly food spending has decreased dramatically and I don’t need to eat as late as I used to in Banda Aceh. Score! And finally in the plus column for Jakarta – my mom will be happy about this – there’s a washing machine so I won’t need to do my laundry by hand anymore. Oh! And people in Jakarta don’t stare at me as much as people in Banda Aceh did (they still stare, though).
But every paradise has some worm-y apples and Jakarta is no different.
The toilet here isn’t even Western-style. It’s a ceramic-decorated hole in the ground. This is hard on the knees and it means more effort on odour control, if you get my drift. Also in the minus column for Jakarta is the fact that although this centre is larger, it is less comfortable. Whereas in Aceh, we threw our doors open all day and let in the light and fresh air, in Jakarta there are no lots of doors to throw open so it’s darker and feels more closed in. On top of that, there is no place to just relax, as we had with the admittedly popped-down couches in Aceh; in Jakarta, relaxing means sitting or lying around on the floor. I’m sure you can imagine my side eye right now – sitting or lying on the floor is fine occasionally but not all the time. The worst thing of all is that my boss seems to visit here frequently. I’ll talk more about him in the very near future. Finally, for A’s entire 5 and a half weeks in Jakarta before she finished up her time with this organisation, we shared a room. Although sharing with A was no hardship, the lack of privacy was not ideal.
So that’s the low-down on my move to Jakarta. I have first impressions of the city to share and so much more, coming soon!