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The Third 24 Hours




Nearly slept through the night.  We need to be up early anyway for a meeting at the school. We successfully navigate a taxi to the school using only the name of the school and some nods.


While we can’t yet speak to the actual education, we are amazed that the facilities here.  It is a big school.  4 times the size of Z’s previous school.  There is no risk of snow, so there are a series of buildings linked by covered walkways. Lots of outdoor sitting areas. A ping pong court. A huge fig tree. 

Maybe each subject has it’s own building.  They are working hard on a new history building. Both of us are impressed by the science building that bends around a covered outdoor amphitheater.  On the roof is an aquatics pond and hydroponic lab. We must see this.  Indeed, on the roof is a pond and Japanese bridge and a Buddha statue and a view of Jakarta.  There is a hydroponics area that is under renovation.


The whole school is like a small community college.  There are ATMs, as well as a bank and post office.  Your ID card controls the lockers. They aren’t assigned. If you need a place to stow your stuff you wave your card and stow your stuff.  It remembers you when you come back and opens the right door.  The same ID card gets you food at the cafeteria or the cafe or the snack shop or the parent run “homemade food” area.


We get Z’s schedule sorted and it should be a challenge. 4-5 classes a day.  Classes don’t meet every day but rotate over a 10 day period. From what we gather, there is a lot of flexibility and the expectation that kids manage themselves and their time.


God bless guidance counselors for whatever magical authority they possess that can convince teens to try something using, verbatim, the same words that parents use that have, to date, been met with eye-rolls and ‘what-evers’.  Z has been convinced to try out for soccer.  A decision that has wavered hour to hour for the last 6 months.  Ms S, the is the matron with the mojo.


We rush home in the afternoon to wait for the cable guy.  I fear this can’t be good, but we find that cable and phone have already been connected in our absence.  Like magic!


So, finally, a chance to walk the new ‘hood’.  Whenever I go somewhere new, I like to walk, even if it’s just around the block, to get my bearings and find some landmarks. Thus far this week, I’ve not been able to do this.


We discover that a road near our house is “flower street”.  A long row of flower and tropical plant stalls.  One man beckons us to his stall from across the street. I want to say his plants are beautiful and so yell “Saya cintas.”  and then I wince.  “Oh no!, I think I’ve just professed my love for him!”


“Dad, we’re never going to be able to walk down this street again!”


We walk into the hotel across the street and find ourselves in the midst of their high tea complete with live grey- bearded flute player in traditional garb.  He plays a haunting and relaxing tune while covertly checking his text messages. A true five star spot. Seriously, you’ll want to go here.


The walk has turned into more of a hike. It is not a pedestrian friendly area, at least for the weak-ankled.  There are frequent divots and occasional gullies. The sidewalks alternate across the street and random intervals.  


On the busy streets, the pollution is palpable, internally and externally.  Our lungs and eyes burn.  We see the value in the masks that we’ve seen people wear,  This is less evident on the side streets.


Crosswalks are clearly marked, but totally ignored by traffic.  We did hear of a trick from an Indonesian earlier in the week.  “Show them 5 fingers! Find a gap, hold up your hand and walk with authority.”


This works!  Cars and scooters stop.  Or, rather, they clearly avoid hitting you.  Which makes us realize that for the most part no one here wants to hit anyone.  There is honking an swerving and squeezing, but there is no rage or indignation.  You go your way. I’ll go mine… with 6 inches to spare.


Along the way, we’ve found a few restaurants and coffee shops and even a gelato place.


Headed home, Z says, “I miss my friends, but rather than go home, I’d like them to be here to share this with them.”

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