I fear that I have given you the impression that my life in Indonesia is terrible. It isn’t. My living situation should be better than it is and I’m not a fan of this organisation but life is far from awful. In fact, in the scheme of things, it’s not bad at all. Let me count my blessings one by one.
But before I start counting, let me just be totally honest: if it wasn’t for the cockroaches and the rats, I would probably not be as put off by this house as I am. As for the grime I could take a deep breath (or try to, without choking on the dirt), say a prayer and let my eyes glaze past it, but Jah know, star! Me cyaan deal wid di roach dem! (Jamaican patois translation: The Lord knows I cannot deal with these roaches!)
However, despite my less than ideal working and living situation, being in Jakarta is not bad.
For 1 thing, my skin has gotten gorgeous since I moved to Jakarta. Apparently, the city agrees with it. Go figure, especially considering that the air is so polluted, but whatever. I have no idea why but I’ve had only 4 pimples in the 2 months since I’ve been here, 2 of which appeared within 1 week of A’s departure when I drowned my sorrows in way too many sweet treats. I didn’t have many pimples before and the almost total absence of new pimples means that my skin is even less spotty because the dark spots from old pimples are gone, with no new ones to take their place. I have no idea why this has happened in Jakarta. Maybe it’s not because of Jakarta, maybe the process started in Aceh but has just finished manifesting itself since I’ve been here. Whatever. The point is, my skin is the clearest it’s been since I hit puberty!
Another good thing is that there are an abundance of nice hotels in the city that are relatively cheap. If I feel the need for luxury (comfy bed, lots of pillows, proper shower, western toilet), I don’t have far to go and I don’t have to pay an arm and 2 legs to get it. In fact, I may just head out 1 Saturday night, spend all day Sunday (my day off) ensconced in a nice hotel room watching old movies on my iPad, then head back to the centre early on Monday morning. I estimate that I’ll spend a total of about 700,000 rupiah, or about US$54, for the privilege, including hotel room, Go-Jek to and from, and food.
Of course, The Jamaican is here. Yes, I escaped to his house for a night and a day but I certainly don’t want to make a habit out of that or take advantage of the man’s generosity. Most importantly, I want to spend some time on my own. I spend 6 days of every week living up under a bunch of people’s arms and having them up under my arm. I have got to get away from people sometimes.
I like the fact that there are easy, cheap ways of getting around Jakarta. As bad as the traffic is, depending on how far I have to go, it’s cheap and easy to get there by ojek. I can get a Go-Jek, Grab or Uber Bike for what works out to US$2 or $3 and be in another location in the city within a reasonable time. Additionally, the road networks are very good, in my opinion (potholes? What potholes?) and there are highways galore.
I also like the fact that it’s easy to travel from Jakarta to other places. Had I not been here, I would very likely not have made it to Bali or to any other place that I will see in Indonesia. Not only that, the Jakarta airport also makes many locations in Southeast Asia easily accessible at budget prices and I sure do appreciate that. In fact, I’m rolling travel plans around in my mind as we speak.
Those are some of the good things about Jakarta for me. The museums worth going to were done on my first 2 Sundays off here. The malls worth going to are visited when I need a break from the centre. I catch a plane when I can or find a hotel room when I can’t.
As I said, it’s not bad at all.