I had a month long opportunity where I was able to embrace a new culture in Hoga Indonesia. It was an experience that I highly value. While traveling thousands of miles away to a different country to venture cultural diversity, I embarked on this journey as a way to seek another culture of Indonesia that I had yet to experience. I spent 4 weeks with fellow Eckerd College athlete, Jonathan Cheng, on this island and really cherished every minute of it as I continued to learn more of what Indonesia has to offer to me.
Traveling to this tiny island took about 12 hours on its own from the capital city of Indonesia where I live, Jakarta. I had to take 2 propeller plane rides and fly to a city in the Wakatobi region called Wanci-Wanci, a city with an airport of only one flight in and out each day. After about 8 hours of traveling including transits, we drove to the marina where we had to take two boat rides, totaling 2 hours.
The moment I got to the island, everything seemed very blissful and untouched. Many may think that it is an island to vacation and spend time with your family, but it is nowhere close to that. The place that Jonny and I stayed in was a wooden hut with a single bulb that only works when the sun is down. Our bathroom consisted of two buckets with 4 sheets of metal covering it. One bucket was fresh water for showering that we had to get from the well each morning. The second bucket was salt water to flush down the squat toilet.
Living on the island took several days of adjustment. Throughout my stay on the island, our hut door would not close, allowing strong sea breezes to blow in during the night. Sleeping on the spring mattress the first few nights with only a bed sheet to cover myself was definitely not an easy adjustment. Moreover, we have no idea what kind of animals would come in to our hut during the night.
The meals on the island were also very different. Being so far away from the mainland, our food supply was limited. Our lunches were always rice and vegetables, maybe an ice-cold orange drink on a lucky day. For dinner we would always get a small piece of tuna in addition to the rice and vegetables. We were lucky to have some locals cook for us using traditional spices that they could find on the forest behind our base. It makes it interesting to get a taste of something new even for me as an Indonesian. Quantity wise though it was never enough.
After a few days, I realized how fortunate I am to be able to eat, drink, and live a comfortable life. The local people on the island were living off of what they could find in the forest and what the men catch out on the sea that day. On the other hand, here I am living in the Western world, sleeping with a comforter, taking warm showers, buying food from the grocery story, and simply living the “easy” life.
Stay tuned for my next installment of the Hoga experience….