Thursday, January 27, 2005

In Jakarta

So, I survived the 13 hours to Singapore and the 2 hours to Jakarta. In some ways, it feels like the flight should have been so much longer. It was taken me such a distance.

The flight was fine... I couldn't sleep much at all, and so I spent my time watching movies. I finally got to see The Motorcycle Diaries, even though it was on a screen a little larger than a playing card. I flew into the dark at an unreal speed. I have a wonderful series of pictures of the moon rising, fast above the horizon, as we sped into night. Then we flew over Europe, the Caspian Sea, over Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and the Bay of Bengal in darkness. I spent much of my time staring into the darkness and imagining what was below me.

I got into Singapore, and flew to Jakarta. At that point, my body thought it was something like 3am, after no sleep, and I crashed for the hour's flight.

When I got off the plane in Indonesia, you could smell it. Not in a bad way, but there is a way that smell lingers when the air is so moist. In the cold weather in America, you cannot smell anything. In the same way, the opposite is true here. The smell of flowers, of sweat, of people, of everything, is in the air. And it was hot.

I was met at the airport, and went straight to the office. I would rather have showed up at the office after having showered and changed, as to make a good impression, but my driver did not know where I was supposed to go, and so to the office I went. The office is a house, which has been converted into office areas. It is very nice, and packed. About half westerners, and about half Indonesian staff. My Indonesian has been coming back very well, and people are nicely impressed, so that is good.

The office is that everything is in flux here. It is clear here how difficult the disaster has been to deal with. People have been pulled off of their own tasks to do other things, and to Aceh. People have been in and out, to Aceh and back, many times. It seems that people can only handle a couple of weeks there before they get overwhelmed, and need to come back. It is obvious how difficult it is to determine what exactly people need to do, and what needs to be done. So, in other words, there were not a concrete job description waiting for me when I got here. I was not surprised, and I don't think it is necessarily a bad thing. I have a meeting today at 11 to discuss what exactly I will be doing.

I went back to the staff house after meeting the entire office. The house is very fancy, and will be a nice place to live. I have my own big room, and other members of the staff are in the house. I have not been there long enough to actually know about them as individuals. I am sure I will have stories later.

I think right now my body is angry at me. My body is in some time zone, and all times are times when I should be sleeping somewhere. There is also just the exhaustion of traveling for this long. But, I will attempt to not sleep too much today, as to get myself on this time zone.


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