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Students in a long tail boat in Indonesia. Photo by Aaron Slosberg, Indonesia Semester.

First Morning In Langa

Here’s a journal entry from Saturday March 16th, our first morning in Langa:

At 5:40am my watch alarm sounded, but my bladder had already been begging me to leave the sanctum of a warm blanket and mosquito net for the better part of the past hour. It was my first morning in Langa, and I was awake to run with my homestay brother—a plan we had made the night before. My bare feet touched down on the chilly stone floor. Smoke gently passed through my room, rolling over the gaps in the ceiling and under the crack in my door. The smoke comforted me with memories of campfires and cozy summer nights. The village was quiet save for the symphony of wild dogs singing, yelping, and barking loudly. I blinked the sleep from my puffy eyes and cautiously edged open my creaking wooden door. I crept through the dark house—still largely unknown to me.

I was eager to finally get my body moving again. Running has long been my escape but it’s been hard to keep it up alongside our packed Dragons schedule. I was also overwhelmed: for the first time in a while, I was completely on my own. My friends which have fast become my family were in their own homes—their locations unknown to me. Homestays are very rewarding but also, naturally, deeply challenging. My time in Indonesia has been incredibly impactful primarily thanks to the homestays, but, I have to admit that this morning, part of me longed to dive back into bed and hide out in my room, where everything is known.

Santos, my brother, found me lingering outside my room and motioned with his head for me to follow. Silently, we walked outside along a densely vegetated and lush path, past the family well and laundry lines, to reach the main road. (I would later find out that my friends all lived along this road, some a mere 30 second walk from my home). Without speaking, we simultaneously began to jog. At my back was the Inerie volcano, its peak in powerful contrast with the golden morning light and soft blue sky. The village slept, and we ran, sharing stories and learning about each other along the way. We ran through winding roads, sleepy neighborhoods, and through mystical village squares. Every time I looked up, I was awestruck by the mighty volcano and the jungle landscape surrounding us. It felt as if I had been waiting for this moment, to run and exist amongst nature, since I touched down in Indonesia. On our way home, Santos, who is a trekking guide, took a detour and I got a whiff of why these islands are known for their spice. What looked, to me, to be a run-of-the-mill leaf was a vibrant clove, powerful eucalyptus, or sweet lemon. I looked up and saw lime, avocado, guava, and passionfruit trees, to name a few. We ran on, and with each thud of our feet on the pavement, I became increasingly enchanted with this special place. With each step, I felt more at home.

Just the night before, I was overwhelmed and disoriented. I felt alone in the vast, echoing house filled with conversation in words I didn’t recognize. But, in my discomfort, I saw a chance to learn so I emerged from the safety of my room and sat with my family. I de-shelled beans with Mama Agustina, practiced my Indonesian, and planned a run with Santos for the following morning. I’m learning to put myself out there and to recognize my own discomfort as a sign that it’s time to challenge myself. I didn’t hide, and from it came a chance to run and explore with my new family.

*As I write this, we’ve been in Langa for a week, and I feel so happy and comfortable with my family. This first morning described above was instrumental in giving me the confidence to connect with my family and build a relationship over the past week. J