so here i am in Sumatra. the morning we were to leave for Calang (pronounced chalong) there were heavy rains that washed out a bridge and much of the road we were to take to get there. we're going to calang to meet with a watershed forum who aims to prevent exactly these sorts of problems from happening. so, we had to take a 6 hour detour and pretty much cover the entire province of Aceh. i didn't mind, i got to eat salak (snakeskin fruit) and stick my head out the window and take lots of pictures. it's amazing how you'll fly by someone at 80km/hr and they'll look you right in the eyes and go heeeeeyyyyy! and cheer and holler. "you have so many boyfriends!" says our driver.
there were 5 of us in the car, me and a bunch of guys. oki and mahmoud from the training i gave in jakarta, the driver joel (who has the whitest most perfect teeth for someone who chain smokes) and azhar, your sortof indonesian john goodman, a sloppy joe in a big loveable huggable bear sortof way. he's all "can you believe they stopped me at the canadian border for three hours?" i do actually, and don't blame them....he curses, he smokes, he sweats, he drinks, he burps, he's always late, he talks about cannabis, which isn't saying much for his muslim traditions, but every time he opens his mouth (which is just about all the time) everyone is laughing, in tears. i don't need to understand what he's saying, it's hilarious.
so, we have this huge long trip ahead of us, but that doesn't prevent us from driving 5km/hour because we have to get the music juuuuuust right. the driver has this mp3 flash disk thing and he has to skip through thirty songs to the right one before we can start moving at a normal pace, and that song might be "more than words" by mr. big, or a bon jovi techno remix. we also stop just about every 45 minutes to pee, smoke, pray, or eat noodles. it's funny how they say it too, "aurelgrooves, we have to stop and take a pray" which is about as common and nonchalant as needing a poo break. so they do their thing, take their shoes off and wander into one of the 5 mosques each little town has, and i get to walk around, get oggled by the locals, drink some taaaaaaaaasty coffee! buy some more snakeskin fruit because azhar keeps eating them all, and maybe i'll find a bathroom, a ghastly horrid hole in the ground that makes me want to stop eating and drinking, so i'll never have to visit one of those things again.
i still can't for the life of me understand how the whole loo setup is supposed to work. there's a hole, and there's a bucket of water with a small ladle like thing in it. that's IT. these people eat with their hands! somehow you're supposed to come out of this bathroom clean and dry. ummm...? did some guy with pee hands touch that same ladle?
in my hotel room the first night i went to the front desk laughing, hahaha you forgot to give me toilet paper! and they're like, no we didn't. and so oki was about to explain how it works, "so you have the bucket..." and then he just mumbled something to hotel guy, who ran out and bought me a roll. i like the part where you can pee in the shower, because the toilet IS the shower but still...ok, so really, don't these people ever poop?*
*my colleagues must have been reading my facebook status because when we were at the American Red Cross office they found me a little education sheet on hygeine, it has pictures of how to clean your butt with the bucket thing. thanks guys!