Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Spiny Surprise!

As I walked out of our gate on Monday, heading to a friend’s house to use the bathroom, I was quite surprised to come upon one of these siting in our driveway!

In Indonesian a big lizard like this is called a Biawak (be-ah-walk).  I’m not sure what they are called in English, but from looking at them online they appear to be a relative of (or actually are) Komodo Dragons.  I guess they can get almost as big as a small alligator-yikes!  At about 3 feet long the Biawak I saw was quite an impressive beast, and not just a little intimidating with his tough-looking tail!  I looked at him for a few seconds, and then called one of the workers who is doing construction on our house to see the lizard.  I was hoping to get a picture of the Biawak (I found the one above online thanks to this Indonesian blog http://princessyayah89.blogspot.com/2010/12/tips-bibir-cantik-dan-sihat.html.  I don’t know the author or what the blog is about or anything, I just used her picture of a Biawak to show you what one looks like), but the worker immediately threw a rock at him and the lizard ran away before I could get a photo.  From what I hear Biawaks aren’t vicious, and they are usually pretty skittish.  I do know that when threatened they whip their tails around to defend themselves.  I plan on steering clear of these large lizards if I can-you better believe that ever since seeing the Biawak I have been looking carefully when I’m walking by the brush pile and the tall grass beside our driveway so I’m not startled by one of these guys at close range!

Never a dull moment here in Indonesia!

Septic system update-it is fixed besides a few minor adjustments, Praise the Lord!!!  We can now use our toilet and it is working better than ever before.  The storage area at the side of our house is getting close to being finished too, so before and after pictures of that project coming soon.  Bye for now!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Poop Post


Yup, that’s what this post is about, poop.

It’s come to this, I am writing about poop.  Mostly this is because poop is unfortunately such a large part of life here in Indonesia. 

Or maybe it’s just a big part of it for me.

Each morning when I venture into the storage area at the side of our house where our washer/dryer is, I am faced with numerous pieces of rat excrement, which are my happy job to sweep up.  Especially in the corners of our house, but all over really, is poop from the little geckos that run around our house.  Beneath our furniture are piles of sawdust, which are essentially the refuse of the termites that are chewing away our couch and chairs bit by bit.

This is not even touching on the issues with poop we have as westerners living in a developing country.  I will leave that topic undisturbed besides this short reference as I’m sure most of you, especially those that have done any traveling out of the country, know it all too well.

“What brought on this tirade about excrement?” you might be asking, if you are still even reading this disgusting vignette.  Last Wednesday morning I flushed the toilet and instead of sweeping the offending material down the drain as per usual, the toilet contents seeped out of the bottom of the toilet and all over the floor.

More poop to clean up.  Perfect.

This of course happened just after Chris left for work, and he was flying that day, which means I wouldn’t be able to reach him.  I was frantically calling him while throwing rags over the bathroom floor trying to contain the mess.  Thankfully I got him before he left and he came home to assess the situation and get workers to fix the problem before leaving to fly his schedule-such a great husband! 

After the workers arrived they took out the toilet and put it in the shower--ick--and starting digging.  This led to smashing a hole through the floor of our storage area to clear the pipe, which apparently was clogged with “banyak tisu”, which means “lots of tissue”.  Time to change to the Indonesian method-the splash cup and drip dry…not quite so appealing to me!   Upon further investigation (read: smashing through more of the floor) they found the root of the problem, namely that our septic tank is actually a rusted out 55-gallon metal drum!  No wonder it was filled already!  For anyone who might be interested, here is a picture of our current septic situation

As you can see there is a hole rusted in the side of the drum-I’m starting to understand how a rat found its way into our toilet earlier this year!  This picture was actually taken after the workers dug out a pit in which concrete containers will be made to serve as a proper septic system with a vent and a place to clean them out if they get filled or clogged (really hoping that does not happen).  

Unfortunately, the process of constructing the new septic tanks is not as quick as one would hope.  I was wishing for 1-2 days, but here it is, 5 days later and it isn’t finished yet.  Don’t get me wrong, the workers are doing their best, it’s just a lengthy process that involves hours to days of time in between steps to let mortar and concrete set.  It also didn’t help that on Saturday the workers, who are also working on improving the storage area at the side of our house (as mentioned in a previous post), which is also where the septic tanks are going in, took the roof off and didn’t have a chance to completely replace it before leaving for the day.  Saturday night we had a downpour and the septic holes, which still had some sewage in the bottom filled about ¾ of the way with rain/sewage water.  Sunday is the only day I can really do laundry because the workers are here every other day, so the machine cannot be hooked up.  One load of laundry takes between 2 to 2 1/2 hours to wash and dry, so washing a weeks worth takes much of the day and evening.  Here’s a mental picture to make you chuckle-last night I was holding a flashlight in my mouth while pulling hot, steaming clothes out of the dryer and trying not to drop anything into, or fall into the pits filled with sewage water that lie just 2 feet from the washing machine.  At that moment I heard a scuffle and the shriek of a shrew (a rodent somewhere between the size of a mouse and a rat) in the corner, much too close for comfort.  I let out a squeal (although not much more than that because of aforementioned flashlight clenched in my jaw) and got out of there as fast as possible, luckily managing to avoid all contact with contaminated water or rodents. 

I really wasn’t in the best mood after that.

I’ve been trying to make the best of this, but it was one of those times that I couldn’t help but think “How can this be my life right now?  Me-the fairly germ-o-phobic gal whom my brother once described as the ‘most hygienic person in the world’ doing laundry feet away from an open sewer-it’s just not right!!!”  I have regained my sense of humor a bit today, and I’m encouraged to say that it looks like the project could be finished as soon as tomorrow-hooray! 

“How have you been taking care of your bathroom needs?”, you may be wondering, okay, you probably aren’t wondering that, you are wondering why in the world I am writing so much about this.  I’m sorry, I’ve started and I feel the need to see it through to the end, even if just as something to look back on myself when frustrating times come again in the future and think “At least the toilet works”.  To answer your question (you know, the one I imposed on you a second ago), the workers have been telling us up to this point that we can still use the toilet, but I’ve been trying to go to other people’s houses as much as possible because I know eventually the workers will end up having to scoop out what’s collected in the tank to finish it and I really don’t want to add to the disgustingness they have already suffered (I think one of the workers may have lost his lunch while cleaning out the initial clog-yuck).  Currently we definitely cannot use the toilet because one of the workers is actually in the tank cementing the sides right now.  I’m not sure if we will have use of the toilet tonight-we might be doing some running up and down the hill to other people’s bathrooms for another day, but hopefully that is the end of it.

So that’s the poop post.  Sorry if I have disgusted all of you thoroughly.  I’m really hoping this marks the end of our toilet troubles.  I’m sure you are hoping so too, so you don’t have to hear about them!   I won’t feel really settled until I bathe the storage area in bleach-I’ve already bleached the bathroom a couple times and the kitchen floor where the workers had to walk between the storage area and the bathroom tracking who-knows-what in on their feet.  Until I can really clean I try not to think about it and go on with my life.  I’m very thankful to report we have stayed healthy throughout this ordeal and are doing fine despite the occasional mini-meltdown (on my part, of course).

Here’s to hoping for a future of happy flushes in the Desjardine household!