Monday, April 4, 2011

The Good, The Sad, and The Creepy

Hi all-I must admit that so much has happened since my last post that I got to the point where I was just avoiding writing a new post because I knew it would be super long, but here we are, so brace yourselves for a lengthy note!

Let’s start with “The Creepy” since it happened first…

About 2 weeks ago I was mopping our side porch in the afternoon.  I have had to start cleaning it myself because Zero has become so aggressive and protective since getting pregnant that she does not let our house helper come on the side of the porch that she (Zero) sleeps on.  I had disturbed the crabby sleeping dog so I could mop where she usually lays and she had moved onto the grass.  I was walking backwards and mopping in front of me to avoid leaving dirty footprints, when I heard Zero give a growly-sounding bark.  I turned to see what the trouble was and I see her face to face with a cobra, both of them in attack position!  I hurried to the end of the porch farther away from the action, and yelled for Zero to come to me, which of course she ignored.  I watched in fear as Zero went at the cobra and the cobra struck out at her.  At one point Zero ran away shaking her head and rubbing her face on the grass, which I assumed meant she was probably hit by some of the cobra’s venom, oh, did I mention that the cobras we have here are often spitting cobras, as if a regular old cobra wasn’t enough, we have to live with ones that can spit blinding venom-horrible!  I thought Zero might be done messing with the snake at the point, but no, that tough little dog went right back, head to head with the beast.  I went inside the house at that point because I couldn’t bear to see the snake bite Zero.  I called Chris at the MAF hangar and told him what was going on.  He said to stay away from the cobra, and if it didn’t go away immediately to call him and he would send someone to the house to kill it.  I got off the phone and peeked outside, and Zero was back in her usual sleeping place like nothing out of the ordinary had happened, and the snake was no where to be found.  The rest of the day passed without consequence, and I haven’t seen a cobra since, so hopefully the snake was just passing through, it doesn’t live in our yard.  It makes me shiver to think about how I was walking backwards right towards where the snake was-it was a stark reminder of how aware I need to be of my surroundings here in Indonesia.  Thanks to Zero the vigilant little dog I was okay this time!

So that was the creepy…thus reinforcing what I always say to Chris when I get frustrated with living here, “This part of the world in not safe!  Humans were not meant to live in the jungle!”  Spoken like a true midwestern, suburban-dweller!

Next in line, “The Good”, and after seeing a highly poisonous snake right in our yard I was ready for something good!  Last week the whole MAF Kalimantan team, which includes the families from the base in Tarakan and the base in Palangkaraya, which is located on the mainland of Kalimantan, headed to the “big” city of Balikpapan for our annual family conference.  Balikpapan is a 50-minute commercial flight away from Tarakan and it is on the coast of the mainland of Kalimantan (Borneo).  It’s a center for off-shore oil drilling and coal mining, so there are many more western ex-patriots that live there and that means there are more western-style places to eat…

Yup, you’re seeing it right; there are those golden arches!  I don’t think McDonalds has ever tasted so good, especially the fries!  We also enjoyed ice-cold root beer at A&W, good Mexican food at a cute beachside cafĂ©, and even ate at a yummy Indian restaurant.  There is a cafe with actual cold cut sandwiches too, something that is nonexistent in Tarakan, so we enjoyed some faux-Subway for lunch one day as well.  There is also lots of shopping, including several large malls, one of which has a real, authentic Starbucks in it!  It felt so good to sit in a nice, clean, scent-controlled mall, sipping a Starbucks latte.  I didn’t know how much I was craving a shot in the arm of Western culture until that moment!

There is also a delicious Pizza Hut in Balikpapan, but they have the WEIRDEST stuff on pizza-lettuce, mayonnaise, macaroni.  This sign was in front of the restaurant advertising their latest creation...

We didn't try it-cornflakes on pizza just seems wrong!

There are also large, well-stocked grocery stores in Balikpapan that have cheese and pork products.  Here are a couple pictures of my experience at the Hypermart, the closest place to a Walmart that I have found in Indonesia thus far. 

A lot of the frozen food is just in these open bins-it's kind of weird!  Notice how clean it is, and how bright and open and uncrowded-this is the opposite of my usual grocery shopping experience and it was WONDERFUL!!!
So funny-I didn't try any of the "Original Love Juice", but I'm sure it's quite potent with all those extra polyphenols (what?!)

I brought home a HUGE block of cheddar cheese and lots of bacon as well as heavy whipping cream, lasagna noodles, couscous, good chocolate, and a little carton of honest-to-goodness chocolate milk-not ultra-heat-treated (UHT) shelf milk, but real yummy milk!  We also visited the Ace Hardware store (yes, Ace is the place, even in Indonesia) and found a few much-needed good-quality household items (tools, hoses for our hot water heater that won’t leak-you know, boring but essential stuff).

Since Chris and I didn’t have a motorcycle or car in Balikpapan we took taxis and sometimes these funny little vehicles that look like wrecked up VW buses called Angkots (sounds like on-coats).  I took a couple pictures while we were riding in one of these.  The guys that drive them seem like they have a great time.  Often they have one or two of their friends up front with them, or sometimes their entire family, wife and several kids, and they just drive around and talk and smoke all day and night.  At one point the driver of the angkot we were in pulled up next to another angkot and had a lengthy conversation with the other driver in the middle of the road!  The people stuck on the motorcycles behind them were not excited about this.  The angkots are sort of like buses in that they drive particular routes, and when you want to get off you yell “Kiri”, which means “left” and they know to pull over to the side of the road and let you out, but not before you pay them of course!
Me in the back of the Angkot

Chris in the Angkot, chatting with the Indonesian guy beside him

Since Balikpapan is on the coast, Chris and I decided to try and take a walk on the beach, unfortunately we soon found that it was clogged with garbage-bummer.  I had to capture this unfortunate Barbie in a photo…a casualty of the Balikpapan beach!

And yes, we did more than just shop and go out to eat!  We spent time with our MAF teammates and were privileged to have Kevin & Linda Swanson come to speak about the commandments of Jesus: Love the Lord with all your heart, Love one another as God has loved us, and Love your neighbor as yourself (my paraphrasing).  It was great time to get refreshed and refocus on our purpose here in Indonesia.  God knew we needed to return to Tarakan feeling relaxed and rested because there was hard stuff coming.

A quick after-dinner picture in Balikpapan

Which brings me to “The Sad”.

Those of you that are on Facebook may already know that we had to find our little Zero dog a new home last weekend.  Since she has gotten older (she was a big puppy when we moved into our house), and especially since she has been pregnant, Zero has become more and more aggressive.  She barks and growls whenever someone besides Chris or I comes near the yard and if she is not held she will try to run at and bite people that come over.  It started with just men, but now it has spread to women and even kids, which has been scary.  We were hoping once Zero had her puppies that she would calm down and we wouldn’t have to re-locate her, but last Thursday one of the people who take care of our lawn startled Zero and she ran at the woman and bit her.  I tried to grab Zero before it happened, but I couldn’t get to her in time.  I felt terrible and the woman who was bit was hurting and upset.  I helped the woman clean out the bite, and later Chris took she and her husband to the hospital so she could get the wound thoroughly cleaned and have some shots of antibiotics.  We knew after that incident that we had to find another place for Zero to live because people come to our house almost every day between our house helper, the yard helpers, and my language tutors, as well as friends who have young children. 

With heavy hearts we said “good-bye” to our little dog on Saturday, one of the Indonesian guys that works with Chris agreed to take her-he is a single guy and he felt like he could handle her aggression and that she would be able to become friends with the other dogs in his neighborhood.  We felt terrible to give our sweet Zero away, because she was so nice with us-neither Chris nor I would have described ourselves as dog people before meeting Zero, but we are both missing her very much and so sad to let her go.  So far she has not bonded with the guy who took her, he actually said it seems she has run away, but I am wondering if she had her puppies and is hiding out somewhere close by his house with them.  If you think of it, please pray that Zero would get adjusted to her new home so we won’t have to worry about her, that we would not feel so crushed over letting her go, and most importantly, that the woman whom Zero bit would heal and have no complications.  I don't know if I want to try to have another pet again, it's too hard when it doesn't work out!  I just want to explain to Zero that we still love her, but we can't keep her because she bites-I actually did tell her all about it the day before she was taken away, but somehow I don't think she quite understood me...poor little dog.

The Zero Dog
I told you this would be a LONG post!  That sums up the major events of the last few weeks.  We are getting back into the swing of regular life after being away-language tutoring for me, flying and fixing for Chris.  Chris actually flies 4 out of 5 days this week!  Please pray for his safety because that is a big week of flying.  Hope you are all doing well and thanks for reading! I will post again soon.


  1. How did zero get preggers? Do they spay and neuter dogs there or no? So cool that she saved your life. Is there no way to keep her? I can understand her crabbiness/weird behavior given that I have been pregnant once. I guess being hormonal during pregnancy is universal! I coulda bit a couple of people back then, too. Thank God she didn't tear that woman apart. 'Tis unfortunate situation. Sad. Dogs are truly great. So sorry.

  2. Cindy-spaying and neutering pets is not common here-actually keeping dogs as pets isn't all that common here...they have a different view on animals here than we do in the States. We felt like it would be foolish to keep her after she bit someone, but it is sad because we miss her. Hopefully she is doing okay and enjoying being a mama!

  3. It sad Zero couldn't live with y'all anymore. Just think of what the Garden of Eden was like--being able to hang out with ALL the animals. That would have been awesome.

  4. So sorry about Zero. That is one of the reasons I don't want any more dogs, it is sooooo hard when they have to go. I just borrow Jill's when I need a fix.

  5. Did you get my post from the most recent of your posts? I didn't get the same prompts when I thought I was sending it as I did with these last 2. I am still learning

  6. I got it-thanks for posting! I definitely agree with borrowing a dog to fulfill the dog craving...saying "goodbye" is just too sad with your own dog!