So. Shoes. I’m not wearing any. Sigh.
To be fair, the floor in the Jakarta centre is much cleaner than A and I were ever able to keep the floor at the Aceh centre. This is because this house is much more enclosed and the small yard is all concrete so there’s no dust blowing and no open doors for it to blow through if it were blowing. In Aceh, we had the centre open wide all day and there was a big yard that was dusty when it didn’t rain so the floors almost always felt dusty, no matter how much we swept and mopped.
Yes, in Aceh I had conceded to walking around in the house without shoes but it was only when the children or local volunteers were in attendance.
In Jakarta, there are 2 “children” in residence (1 is 14 and the other is 21 years old, so not really kids). They’re Muslim so shoes are never worn inside by anyone. Ever. Back to square one. Now, I only wear slippers in the bathroom (camp rules still apply, as far as I’m concerned), otherwise it’s barefoot in the house. Honestly, though, it’s not that big a deal anymore. For 1 thing, I think my mind was already in transition because Aceh had gotten me over my shoe-related culture shock. For another, I had already adjusted to not offending my students or seeming ignorant or inflexible by being the only 1 walking around in shoes in the house. And finally, the floor in Jakarta is just plain cleaner.
As I said before, there’s a woman who comes in 6 days a week to cook and clean. She keeps the floors of the common areas well swept and mopped, which means that I generally don’t feel like my feet are dirty after 5 minutes of walking around, although the floors are still not absolutely spic and span.
Notice though that I said she keeps the floors clean. Nobody dusts anything in any of these centres! Am I the only one who sees the years’ worth of dust hanging off the fans, ceilings and everything else, for goodness sake? I’m not gonna sugarcoat it – it’s straight up gross. I don’t know how come people aren’t hacking up a lung because of the caked-on dirt. It was the same in Aceh and was the reason why I had to do that super-cleaning. I’m not doing any super-cleaning here, though. Nope. Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope!
But to get back on track. I’m not sure if this whole no-shoes thing has changed my feelings about my feet. When I get back to the west, will my barefoot standards have fallen, will I be more relaxed about being barefooted than I was pre-Indonesia, doing it anywhere? Or will I be even more foot-aware and overcompensate for my months of barefootedness by wanting to wear shoes all the time? Or will I snap right back to my pre-Indonesia barefoot habits, somewhere in the middle of the 2 extremes? Only time will tell.
I’ve learned that anything can change about me depending on my change in circumstance. We’ll see how the barefoot issue pans out.