Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Eye of the Cat

This week I headed out to grocery shop and stopped at a very important store to us here in Tarakan.  It is called Toko Buah 88, which essentially means ‘fruit store’…not sure what the 88 represents.  This dim little store is run by a woman who is a bit gruff, but she is willing to order imported goods that other stores do not.  Because of her we can now get mozzarella, cheddar cheese, cream cheese, lemons, celery, cilantro, bacon-ish meat (it is bacon, just not cut in the way we think of bacon in the west, it is in chunks instead of strips), real butter (not butter in a can-disgusting), and heavy whipping cream.  I would have liked to get a picture of her, but I felt a bit shy to ask, so here is at least a (bad) picture of the inside of the store…

During my trip to the store this week I noticed hanging from a metal bar in the store in mesh bags were a type of fruit that is known as ‘Mata Kucing’, translated as ‘Eye of the Cat’, and I decided to buy some to try… 

These fruits get their name because, well, I think you can see why…

The black part in the middle is a pit that should be thrown away, but the white part around it is eatable.  I think Mata Kucing are part of the lychee family.  They are similar to lychee in taste, although not as perfumey (if you have eaten lychee before you know what I’m talking about), a bit sweeter, with a hint of saltiness.  They are definitely unique, not a fruit you would find at a typical grocery store in the States.  Although the bag I bought was a bit overripe, we have still enjoyed having a new fruit to try.

Here is the rest of the produce I picked up at Toko Buah 88 this week, it’s drying after I washed it off.  We are so blessed to be able to get such a variety of fruits, vegetables, and other goods here, both local and imported.

Now if I could only find a way to get Italian Sausage…ah well, we can’t have it all, right?!

Not too much else to report from Tarakan.  After several days with spotty water availability, (the city randomly turns off our water, no one knows why), we are so thankful that our base manager helped us hook up our gutters to a 1200 liter tank so we can collect rain water to use for bathroom needs, laundry, and washing dishes.  Life without electricity is annoying (and thankfully our electricity has been pretty stable lately), but life without water is downright difficult.  It seems like a theme of our time here so far has been periodically being without a working toilet, which is obviously the case when there are problems with the water-so not my favorite thing, especially when the food here can be a bit *ahem* unsettling to say the least. 

Living here is such a challenge to my very Western ideas of having rights to everything, rights to running water, rights to consistent electricity, rights to drive surrounded by others that adhere to traffic laws…I could go on and on.  It’s a constant culture shock and an excellent lesson that most things in life aren’t rights to be demanded, but privileges to be appreciated.  Now, just because I am pointing this out doesn’t mean I react with peace and acceptance when things don’t work like I expect them to…there are meltdowns, yes, many meltdowns…but maybe, little by little I’m learning a different way to think.  Okay, I’m realizing there’s a different way to think of and react to things, and that’s the first step toward change, right?

With those deep thoughts, I will sign off for now.  I’m realizing it’s 2:00pm and I haven’t really eaten anything today besides sugary dessert-type food…could be why I’m suddenly ravenously hungry!  Thanks for stopping by, more later!   


  1. yeah, sometimes I feel like I was born during the wrong era. I find it exciting when the power goes out or for whatever reason, the gas or water has been shut off (time to pull out the grill and go camping by a lake). I take it all in stride and even enjoy having to light candles and get out the lantern so I can curl up and read a good book. No tv, no computer no video games...it is great to unplug. Having modern amenities is so overrated. But, then again, if I had to live without them for too long, I might get a little cranky. :-)
    So cool that you have such a nice variety of fresh fruit and veggies! And probably pesticide free!

  2. I had a purple potato some time ago that was delicious! I don't know where it came from. Indonesia perhaps?