Flights are booked! Unfortunately I couldn’t book a one way ticket like I wanted to, so since I have no idea when I’ll want to come back I just booked a late return (New Years Day) so I have as much time as I want in Indonesia. Luckily that flight is easily adjusted if necessary- I’m flying Cathay Pacific and they have pretty reasonable change fees- so if I decide I want to be in the US for Christmas it’s totally doable.
Last year we got lucky and were able to fly Emirates (which I highly recommend) to Dubai and then straight on to Jakarta, but all of those flights were $8000+ this year. Consequently my flight plan is a tiny bit crazy, but I’m excited because I’ve never traveled west of MN so this is a new adventure! I’ll be leaving NYC Friday evening, and the final itinerary is NYC (JFK) –> Los Angeles –> Hong Kong –> Jakarta. It’ll be Sunday afternoon when I finally get to Jakarta. The good thing is that there are no long layovers, so I think the traveling will actually go pretty quickly. Let’s just hope I can navigate the Hong Kong airport…
We finally got visa letters! And consequently its been a crazy day. I woke up this morning and the magic email was sitting in my inbox, which was a huge relief. It would have been kind of a problem if the letters didn’t arrive today. Of course the first thing I did was jump on the website for the Indonesian embassy in NYC to scour all of the visa information for what paperwork was necessary so that they could process my passport. I’ve looked for it before and the information was missing, but for some reason I thought that maybe today it would be there. Well it turned out that the entire website was down and no one was answering the phone at the visa office, so I was essentially flying blind. Not a huge problem since I have the list of required docs from last year and the lists from other embassies; I just gathered everything they could possibly want from me, made two copies, and set off for the embassy. It’s also really hot/humid in NYC so by the time I got there I was a disgusting sweaty mess, which was a pretty unpleasant feeling BUT I saw the guy that plays Dr. Taub on House on the subway… awesome.
Anyway, after my experience with the consulate in DC last year, I was kind of prepared for a battle with these people, but the woman at the counter was super nice and even apologized for the fact that I had to venture back outside and find the post office to get a money order instead of the cash I was going to pay her. In the end she said that she will try (key word) to have my passport done on Tuesday! So, long story short… I am probably leaving on Thursday, but I’ve yet to book a plane ticket, so that could change. In order to schedule my flight I essentially will have to gamble on whether or not I think she’ll have my passport ready on Tuesday, because if they don’t they will finish it on Thursday and I wouldn’t be able to leave until Friday (meaning I get to Jakarta on Sunday). I could also fly on Wednesday, but that’s the 4th of July and still requires a gamble on the plane ticket. Oh well, as they say…
That fish is certainly cray.
Still no visa approval letters. Once I get those, I can take my passport to the embassy and get the actual visa itself, and hopefully they come tomorrow. We shall see… I promise this blog will get a lot more interesting once I get those letters! Unfortunately, all I can do right now is wait, try to keep myself occupied, and avoid looking at plane tickets so as not to get too stressed out. The good news is that two of my good friends who I didn’t think I would get to see again before I left are coming into the city next week. Yay for MBB and Cynthia!
…is updated. Check it if you’re interested in what cool science stuff I’ve been doing for the past several years!
This morning I was sitting at the table with my breakfast of coffee, leftover chinese food, and toast, when I remarked to Megan (my friend/ temporary roomie/field work partner) on how strange my food choices were this morning. Then we immediately realized that rice for breakfast was not that weird, and in fact is what I will be eating for the next 6 months of my life. #fieldlife
In other news, I feel like such a poser whenever I hash tag something.
Menunggu means waiting in Indonesian, which is something I’ve become a pro at since starting the research visa process. I was originally going to post about the perils of getting the research visa today, but I’m slightly paranoid/superstitious about publishing that post until I actually have the visa in my hand. So for now, suffice it to say that I should be getting the necessary official letters next week, after which I can book a plane ticket and take the paperwork to the embassy to get the actual visa put in my passport. It’s going to be interesting to see if I make it to Jakarta in time to meet the volunteers, especially since I just realized today that the NYC embassy will be closed on the 4th of July and that might be a problem. I’m trying not to stress about it since I don’t have any control over anything, but that’s obviously easier said than done. Luckily there are a few of us researchers who are in the same boat, so we can commiserate via Facebook while we wait. Shoutout to Mark, if he’s reading this, for all his hard work to get us our visas as soon as possible! I know it’s been a huge struggle this year (I think obscene is the word you used to describe it), but it’ll pay off soon enough.
In the meantime I’ve been taking a lot of bike rides and catching up on fun reading, something that I haven’t been able to do since I started my Masters. I always finish a lot of books when I’m in the field, so I guess I’m warming up for that. I’m currently reading A Primate’s Memoir by Robert Sabolsky, which is about a behavioral ecologist who followed a bunch of baboons in Kenya for his dissertation. Baboons are one of the most vicious animals I think I’ve ever encountered, so I’m continually impressed by the descriptions of his work. See the picture below (not my photo, one of my Kenya classmates took it) of two baboons fighting as evidence for that statement. Sabolsky also has some interesting stories about life in the bush, some of which I can totally relate to and some of which I would prefer never happen to me (hitchiking across Africa with a bunch of Somalian truck drivers? Too scary). Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for today, I have an exciting afternoon of crossword puzzles, folding the laundry that I did two days ago, and watching the rain lined up ahead of me.
Photo credit: Rikki Schroeder
So, the first post on any blog is kind of weird. Do you jump right in like you’ve been blogging forever? Do you take time to introduce yourself (see the about section if you’re interested in that)? Or, do you acknowledge that this is the first post and it doesn’t really count for anything? Clearly I’m choosing the latter here.
I made this blog because I’m going to be halfway around the world for a while, with somewhat limited communication abilities. We don’t have internet access at the field camp, and while I personally love living without technology for long stretches, I realize that people back home often start to wonder (1) if I’m still alive, (2) where I am and when I’m going to be back, and (3) what the heck I’ve been up to. When I get back into town from the field for a few hours of the civilized life I’m often pressed for time to talk to everyone I want to, so I figured that this here blog would be the most efficient way to keep everyone updated!
Here’s where I stand right now: I moved out of my NYC apartment 6 days ago and have since been apartment surfing. Why did I move out when I clearly still need somewhere to live, you ask? Well, the visa process has been quite slow (more on that in a later post), and I thought I was going to be out of here by now. Luckily I have some awesome friends who are willing to put me up (and put up with me!) while I’m in life limbo. After packing and purging my old apartment, I’ve discovered that my entire life fits in 8 bags, 3 of which are going to come with me to Indonesia and a couple of which are already home in Minnesota. All I need now is a visa and a plane ticket and things will be set… In the meantime I’m just enjoying NYC in all of its summer glory, hanging out with my friends, eating all the food I won’t have access to for the rest of the year (cheese, frozen yogurt, salad), and enjoying luxuries like hot showers and air conditioning. All of that disappears as soon as I step off the plane in Jakarta, so I’m doing my best to take advantage of it now!
Oh, and if you’re interested in where the title for this blog came from, see the About section. Exploration + conservation = happiness.