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Photo by Celia Mitchell (2015/16 Semester Photo Contest Entry), Indonesia Semester.

Strange, Wild, and Authentic

Indonesia is a strange and wild country. I knew this from the get-go, but it took a while to fully grasp. Two events in Jogja fully solidified this fact for me.

The first: One day my friends and I were at the program house using the wifi to send messages back home. Suddenly, our internet stopped working. Perplexed, we got up and found the router, only to discover that it was covered in (and filled with) ants. The little guys were going in and out of the ethernet ports like they were sugar cookies. The fact that such small creatures had the power to climb up a wall, across a cable, into a small machine, and shut it down entirely along with our internet connection was frankly disquieting. I helped my friend Hector pull the router down and shake it out on the back porch. They hit the ground in large clumps and immediately began to crawl right back in the direction of the house. We put the router back and our wifi started working again, but now we spray the router (and the wall surrounding it) with poison every morning to prevent the ants from launching a second attack.

The second: There have been some strange things on the streets of Indonesia, but one driver took the cake. One day out of the corner of my eye at a red light, I noticed a motorcycle with a basket full of pink objects attached to the back. (These baskets are normal in a place where most people get around on motorcycle and do not have the luxury of a back seat or truck bed.) As I looked closer, I realized the pink objects were not toys, but feet from dead chickens. 1000s of them. This man was transporting what was likely 20 pounds of dead chicken feet on the back of a motorcycle. He probably wasn’t thirsty, however, as there was just enough room in the corner of the basket for him to slip in a bottle of sweet tea on top of some tootsies. And through all of this, he managed to be puffing a cigarette. Even our taxi driver took a picture.

Strange, wild, and authentic. I love this country, Indonesia.