Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Spring Break Part Deux

The second of my vacation times began not so auspiciously, on a Saturday night, when, after teaching church English class and piano lessons, but before midnight, the appointed time to pick up my mother and brothers from the airport, the phone rang. It was a number I didn’t recognize, which is almost unfailingly a bad sign. Usually on the other end is someone who, having gotten my number from goodness knows where, wants me to help them learn English, or teach English, or recite English, or, barring all that, cheerfully butcher English. In this case, it was my father, calling to tell me that, due to visa issues, my mom and brothers were detained in Singapore, unable to enter Indonesia. They would visit the embassy first thing Monday morning and hopefully arrive on the midnight flight that night, but, until then, I should proceed with my routine as usual, going to church and school without family in tow, and the cereal I bought, the mattresses laid on my floor, and the Indonesian food cooked by the maids would have to all go untouched.

Oh, who am I kidding? I ate the cold cereal myself as soon as I hung up the phone.

I’m not going to go into detail about the precise nature of the visa issues, as, first, they’re rather boring, and, second, I’m not the sort of daughter who would take advantage of a public platform such as a blog to proclaim her own and her mother's silly mistakes to all the world--except, of course, when I am--so suffice it to say that they were simple problems and, with some smiles and patience and souvenirs given, two-handed, to custom officials, my mother and brothers arrived safely, and still on a high from their unexpected boon of a Singapore vacation.

Semarang couldn’t quite offer them the same level of Westernized sophistication as Singapore—no Border’s Books, no midnight movie showings, no coin-operated public toilets—but what my city and I had to offer was, I hope, enjoyable in its own way: a trip to my school, to be mobbed by excited teachers and alternatingly excited and shy fifteen year olds; a trip to Yogyakarta, to sample street food, ride on motorbikes, visit Borobudur, and watch a wayang kulit performance; and a trip to Jakarta, to visit our old house, hospital, and haunts, eat at Wendy’s, and commemorate Good Friday in an eighteenth-century Anglican church, decorated with tombstones of sea captains who died of typhoid, while, outside, a solemn darkness veiled the sky and a tropical rain fell.

So. It wasn't the SPRING BREAK! that my mom had been so eagerly anticipating--no beaches, no spas, no flashing people--but it was still a vacation to remember. Thank you, Mom and The Duke and Klement, for coming, and thank you, U.S. Consulate in Singapore, for allowing them to come. My life, at least, is better for having seen my mother holding onto her hat on the back of a motorbike, The Duke performing songs on his guitar for my eleventh-grade classes, and Klement sneaking around Borobudur trying to get his head, and just his head, into our photos. Indonesia will never be the same.

3 comments:

Tolkien Boy said...

I'm glad that you had the wherewithal to have your family visit. That can always make a place more special.

Melyngoch said...

Ohhhhhhh . . . my lust-filled envy for the knows no bounds . . .

Your mother said...

Madrus Petrus doesn't mind admitting that after living in the third world for so long, she thinks 5 months and 20 days is, with a bit of shouting and possibly a bribe, sufficient to meet the 6 month visa rule.

Thanks for a fun vacation and even more, for recording it for us. My only disappointment in the blog: that you didn't mention our spendid Indonesian bathroom. Don't you love showering in a bathroom that makes you feel like you are outdoors, except in luxury?