Sunday, October 25, 2009

By the Sea, the Beautiful Sea

Thursday, October 22, 2009

We spent a very quiet day around the house today. Briton and the boys, as well as Ati, have gone to the beach and Jon went to Surabaya in east Java on business, so we had nothing to do and nowhere to go. Although Kusnadi drove back from the beach this morning, arriving here around 1:00 p.m., we stayed in and read all day. The highlight was D’s telling Mariati how to make tuna salad for lunch. We did go out for dinner around 6. Kusnadi drove us to Toscana, an Italian restaurant where we ate 2 years ago. We had a very relaxed dinner and were home by 7:30. [FOOD NOTES: We split an order of bruschetta; MA had meat-stuffed ravioli and D ordered spaghetti Bolognese [meat sauce] for entrees; and we finished with apple strudel and cappuccino for MA and chocolate mousse for D. It was a nice change from Mariati’s Indo/Thai/Pan-asian cuisine].

Jon did not get home until 8:30, a full hour later than he expected, because of traffic. He wasn’t hungry, so we sat and talked while he relaxed with a beer or two. Suddenly it was 10:30, time for everyone to go to bed. D stayed up to read for another hour, then couldn’t get to sleep, so he came into the living room and read until he finished the book around 2 a.m.

Friday, October 23, 2009

With no one to get off to work, we slept in this morning, if you can call 8 o’clock sleeping in. We goofed off, packed for our weekend at the beach and read until 11:30. Kusnadi drove us to Gourmet Garage, a combination grocery store and restaurant. We had lunch a little earlier than usual because we had to leave to get Jon at work at 1:25. MA had a chicken burger which she said was scrumptious and D had a chili dog because they were out of bratwurst. The entire second floor of the building is given over to the restaurant side of the business and there is a lengthy menu which includes sushi as well as Western food and noodle and rice dishes. It is an attractive setting complemented by good food and good service.

After finishing lunch, we went downstairs to pick up some last minute items for the weekend: red peppers, baby carrots, brown [whole wheat] bread and a case of Bin Tang, the local beer. We added 8 cans of “real” Coke for ourselves, not knowing that Briton had already taken some Coke Zero. Kusnadi was waiting for us and we were home before 1 o’clock.

We left the house promptly at 1:25 but ran into terrible traffic, so we were almost 10 minutes late fetching Jon in front of his office. The ensuing 3-1/2 hour drive actually stretched past the four hour mark and we didn’t arrive at the beach until almost 6:30. Jon has developed his own version of the crud; it’s not exactly the same as D’s from last week, but it’s close enough. He felt crappy when we got him and he felt worse when we arrived. He didn’t eat dinner and went to bed very early.

The resort consists of private villas – ours has 4 Spartan bedrooms – and houseboy services. Tonight, the houseboy lit a fire in the adjacent barbecue and cooked steaks Briton had brought from Jakarta while she boiled some fresh corn. Later, the houseboy returned and did the dishes and took out the trash.

We went for a short walk on the beach in the dark. It wasn’t as romantic as it sounds because just as D said, “Be careful, there may be a,” MA fell on her butt. “Drop-off,” he finished. It was about a two foot drop, but luckily, MA fell straight down and ended up sitting on the ledge. It was our last evening foray. We were in bed early although Briton and Ati both went out to visit friends who were staying at the ocean Queen. Briton’s friends are parents of Carter’s friends and others she has met; Ati’s were the other servants. We could do an entire treatise on the social structure of the weekend, but we won’t.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Ocean Queen resort consists of a collection of villas with half of them almost on the beach. In addition to our four bedrooms [D & MA; Jon & Briton; Carter & Caiden; and Ati], there was a large L-shaped area which made a kitchen--dining room—living room area as well as two full bathrooms [with showers but no tubs] and a nice front porch. It was not lovely to look at. “Resort” conjures up images of luxury; the Ocean Queen was more like a summer camp. All of the lights, indoor and out, were CFLs which cast a blue pall over everything.

It was not without its charms, however. In addition to a very nice pool, we were able to see a variety of wildlife. For example, there was a small herd of sheep penned just behind our cottage. The surrounding fence was somewhat portable and it appeared that the sheep were moved in order to equalize their natural grass-cutting. We also had a family of birds which spent its days bring bits and pieces of the lawn to a secret place under the roof of the porch where they were building their own retirement home.

No description of the wildlife would be complete with Vlad, our own little impaler. No one else had a personal bat. Vlad spent parts of each day and evening hanging upside down over the front door. He didn’t bother us and we didn’t bother him. We watched him stretch and groom himself but never saw him fly in or out. Carter was leery of the bat, but Caiden would go look for him. We would all check on him occasionally; after all, he was the only pet we had. Some of the other guests had brought their dogs, but we had a bat. [We discovered Sunday morning, we also had toads or frogs [we were not sure which, but that’s a story for the next entry.]

Jon spent most of the weekend in bed, but the boys had a ball with their friends, especially Carter. We all, minus Jon, went to the pool in the afternoon. D played with Carter in the pool while MA watched from the shade. There were three or four other couples in the group which meant that there was plenty of company for the boy as well as Briton. Later in the afternoon, Jon, Briton, MA, D and Caiden went exploring while Carter played with his friends. All things considered, there were not as many tears or fights as there could have been, and the boys did nothing but eat whenever they got the chance.

For dinner Saturday night, we had giant prawns and red snapper grilled by the in-house restaurant. Jon was still off his feed, so there was enough left for Ati to share with her friends. Everyone was stuffed and happy. It was another early night; all of that fresh air and sunshine can take its toll.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

We had another lazy morning even though we were up at 7 with the boys and Ati. We played; they played; they fought; they watched videos, etc., etc., etc. Briton and the boys went swimming around 9:15 and by 9:30 they were both eating ice cream. Carter demonstrated his progress swimming without floats and then played with his friends. Caiden played with Briton before losing interest in the whole business and returning to the cottage with Ati. D and MA returned, too, to see if Jon needed/wanted any help packing up. He didn’t.

At some this morning, Carter discovered three frogs [toads?] in a water cut-off box next to the cottage. He and we went to watch them for a while but he grew tired of that and went to play with his peeps. After lunch, one of the boys came by before we left and the two boys found one of the frogs in the grass and spent the rest of their time together chasing and tormenting, but not really injuring, the frog. It was such a Tom Sawyer moment.

Okay, we were ready to leave but had so much stuff that Jon had to arrange for a second car to help ferry us back to Jakarta. The second driver was a little old man who seemed to be in a bit of a fog, but who knew what to expect?

The trip out on Friday ended in the dark, so we didn’t get a good view of the road although we could feel all of the twists and turns as Kusnadi brought us safely to the Ocean Queen. Today, we did the trip in reverse. For the first hour, it was like riding the Wild Mouse, an old roller coaster-type of ride known for its sudden tight turns and precipitous drops. If the first rule of the road is don’t pass on a curve and the second is don’t pass on a hill, then the third is that it’s okay to pass on a curve on a hill. We went straight up; we went straight down; we zigged; we zagged. We damn near died a couple of times when we had to yell at Ralph the Driver that there were cars/trucks barreling down on us. Even when the grades were not as steep and the curves not as sharp, we wondered if we would survive the trip.

We stopped twice along the way. Our first stop was to get ice for the cooler; Ralph found a fish market as a source for the ice. The market was fascinating but, of course, smelly, so we couldn’t open the windows for photos. Then Ralph discovered that he didn’t know where he was so Jon called Kusnadi who knew exactly where we were. We turned around and let Kusnadi be line leader since he knew where he was going. At the second stop, for water for Jon and Briton, MA asked D if he wanted anything to drink. “No, I’d rather die with dry underwear,” was his response. We eventually worked our way to the main road which consisted of bumper-to-bumper traffic for about 20 miles. Once again, Indo drivers proved that lines are for sissies as they created 2 and 3 lanes on a one-lane roadway and continued to pass under the most hazardous of conditions. Even when we moved onto the toll road, traffic and mayhem continued. Ralph was changing lanes will-nilly and almost rear-ended several vehicles because he wasn’t paying attention. Through it all, Kusnadi drove in his usual dependable, conservative style and still got ahead of us. When Jon called about which exit to take, he discovered that we were right behind Kusnadi in the exit lane. Slow and steady wins the race…

Although we had left the Ocean Queen at 1:00, it was 6 o’clock when we got home. Pizza for dinner was all we could manage, so Jon called from the car and the pizza arrived at the house only a few moments after we did. We were finished unpacking and eating by 6:30 and the boys were in bed around 7. We checked e-mail and obituaries and read until around 8. MA went to bed and D updated the journal until 10 p.m. Jon and Briton watched a little TV but the upstairs was dark by 9:30. Carter and Caiden have school tomorrow and Jon, of course, has work even though he ought to take it easy for one more day. As for us, only time will tell what’s in our future.

And so to bed.

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