Saturday, August 25, 2007

Dreams and Quakes

You may have heard about our recent earthquake in the news. On the night of Wednesday, August 8, we went over to our boss' apartment with other coworkers to watch Office Space. At about 10 p.m. we went home and went to bed.

The next morning I woke up and checked my email before going to work and saw an email with the subject "Earthquake" from my parents, which just inquired as to whether or not we were okay. I checked out the news and sure enough there had been a 7.4 magnitude earthquake only 65 miles from Jakarta at around midnight. We slept right through it...

But that's not to say that it didn't affect us. Right after we woke up that morning, Hillary told me about the awful dream she'd had. She dreamed that we were at a dinner party and that through the window we watched the three other towers of our apartment building explode, and ours was next. Her brain definitely knew something weird was going on and somehow worked that into a dream.

At work, we found out that our boss had been evacuated from his apartment and that he said it sounded like the building was falling apart. He ended up sleeping on a coworker's couch since he had no where to go. When he went back the next morning to get dressed, there were new cracks in some of the walls and chunks of plaster on the floor. Luckily, there was no real damage from the earthquake in Jakarta. But hey, now Hillary and I can say we've been through our first earthquake. Plus, it's good to know our building seems sturdy!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Everyone's gotta make a living

Just north of Jakarta, there are hundreds of tiny islands and many of them have small resorts. A couple weekends ago, we decided to go out there for a getaway. To get there, we had to take a large speedboat that had been converted into a ferry for an almost two hour ride. It had rows of seats like an airplane and no air conditioning. That ride sucked.

It was really nice to be out on an island. No pollution and no traffic, and the water was crystal clear. We were able to just relax, read, play scrabble and snorkel.

On our way back on Sunday afternoon our taxi was passing through an area of town not too far from our home when we approached a police check point. When the police saw a car with two white people in it, they made us stop. We were asked for our passports, which we didn't have. John had his drivers license, but I didn't have any ID, as I didn't want to bring my purse to a small resort. Then the shakedown started...

The cop asked John if he would step into his "office." We were on the side of the street and the only things around were little shops and stalls. When he got out of the car, the guy started to explain how his commander couldn't just let us go. John told him where we worked, but he still kept rambling on about how his commander needed "something", which translates of course as a good bit of money. John finally asked how much. We weren't going to try and pay off a cop, but we were curious to know how much it would have cost us...

After calling the embassy's security staff, I think the cops realized that they weren't going to have much success with us. They finally just let us go. An interesting experience. Oh, and the government here issues embassy employees a local ID card so you don't have to carry your passport with you, but it takes about three to six months after arriving here to get your card. From then on we have been carrying a photocopy of our passports with us!