Tuesday, January 26, 2010

'Gate Girls Do Mt. Bromo

I had a surprise this week: a visit from one of my Colgate friends: Sachi, who is currently completing a Watson Fellowship year traveling to study and film speed-cubing. Sachi is the first person that I've seen that I knew before I came to Indonesia. It was incredible to see someone from school and catch up! I'm so thankful that she was able to make time to visit me during all her travels.
Sachi stayed with me in Magelang for two days. She visited my classes to meet my students and try to expand their conception of Americans ["Are you sure you're American? You look Japanese!"...cue Miss Sarah cringing in horror]. It was very interesting for me to hear Sachi's reactions to my Indonesian life. I've lost a lot of perspective on the oddities of my experience here because now everything seems normal to me--most of the shock value has been lost. It was refreshing to regain some of the incredulity that I had when I arrived. I felt vindicated when Sachi proclaimed that my situation is strange, trying, and absurd and that she was impressed with the way I've adapted. Sachi videotaped one of my classes and is going to make a short video that I will be able to upload and share with all of you.
On Friday we took an overnight travel car to Malang to hike up to Mt. Bromo, one of the most beautiful and popular volcanoes in Indonesia. Despite spending three nights sleeping in cars, this was one of my favorite trips of my time here. Sachi and I stayed at Courtney's house in Malang and were able to explore the city a little bit with Courtney and Carrie [two other ETAs].
We woke up at 1:00 AM on Sunday in order to hike to a lookout point and watch the sun rise over Mt. Bromo. For the first time since I arrived in Indonesia, I was freezing! Now, I'm sure it wasn't that cold compared to Vermont or Hamilton, but I could see my breath and despite my fleece and my rain jacket I couldn't stop shivering. It reminded me of how much I do not miss winter and was a nice change from the full body sweats I'm usually enduring. The sunrise was beautiful and definitely worth getting up for. The photos barely do it justice! The volcanoes were cloaked in clouds that transformed the valleys into a seascape. Indah sekali!
After the sun rose we jumped into the van and drove across the Sea of Sand, essentially a valley of volcanic ash, to the foot of Bromo. It was shorter than I expected, but the sides of the volcano were deeply ridged from previous lava flows. We hiked up Mt. Batok, the neighboring volcano, past a Hindu temple. This grouping of volcanoes is sacred to the Hindus in the area. They hold annual festivals of worship that involve throwing offerings of food, animals, and money into the crater. The crater was impressive and was letting off a lot of steam and a sound that eerily resembled what I imagine an eruption would sound like. The view from the top was quite impressive as you could see out over the Sea of Sand to the other volcanoes.
After another overnight car ride to Yogya, Sachi and I said goodbye--time for me to return to teaching and time for her to get to work at a cubing tournament in Jakarta. It was so nice to see her and share our various travel experiences with each other. Thanks for visiting Sachi! Best of luck in the next six months of your Watson adventure! I'll be thinking of you.


  1. These photos are stunningly amazing! Oh, Sarah, the things you have seen and the places you've been! I cannot wait to spend time with you this Summer talking and talking about all of your adventures.
    It's always good to put things into perspective. I know what you mean about "normal". I have found myself somewhat in the same position for the last few months. We will discuss this also.
    I cannot wait to see what you share with us next.
    Love, Mary Ann

  2. Awesome pictures! I'm so glad you had a nice visit with Sachi... The high today in Vermont was 10! You're going to need lots of new winter layers to survive your next New England winter...
    Love, Mum