Kartini Day | Salatiga | Indonesia

Last Saturday, all across the country, Indonesians celebrated the life of a woman named Kartini. In summary, Kartini was a pioneer in Indonesian women's rights. And, what better way to celebrate a women's rights activist than pageant? You got it. A beauty pageant to pay homage to the woman who fought to allow Indonesian women to be educated. Being from the international school, we were personally invited to not only attend but also participate, by the mayor himself. Our day began at 5 am....
Step 1: Hair: insane volume through teasing hair; bump, twist, repeat.


Step 2: Makeup: Add fake eyelashes, shave edge of eyebrow, trace new lips.


Step 3: Clothing: add traditional Javanese dress.


Step 4: Attend the beauty pageant.


First, we attended a ceremony on the lawn of the Mayor's house. It lasted an hour and involved singing, saluting and praying. It was rather interesting.


h, we also had to have escorts. Here are the guys that Ibu Maria wrangled up for us:


Those of you that know me, know that I hate to be the center of attention and I hate speaking in public. Both of these things happened during the pageant. Long story short, out of 150 contestant couples, I was the first one to walk out. Without any instructions, I had to be the first one to walk down the stage. Note the suprise on my face:


Although I have no desire to ever compete in a beauty pageant again, it was undoubtedly a once in a lifetime experience that I am glad to have participated in. I also made the local newspaper!

School | International Day

Each year, Mountainview elementary students temporarily pause their social studies to pick up with their country of choice to learn about art, language, culture and customs. The month-long study culminates in two events: Travel Day and International Day. For our International Day performance, after a unit on France, my students prepared an original Madeleine skit and song.

In an old house in Paris, That was covered in vines, Lived six little girls, In two straight lines

They left the house at half past nine, In two straight lines, In rain or shine, The smallest one was Madeline

In two straight lines, They toured the city, Saw paintings and buildings, And said "How Pretty!"

They went to museums, Yes they went to a few, The largest of which they saw, Was the Louvre

They admired the arc, And walked through parks

They viewed Notre Dame, Which was almost spoiled, When the girls turned around, And saw a gargoyle

In the afternoon, At a quarter to three, The girls stopped off, At a bon creperie

With full happy stomachs, The girls walked in rows, Back across town, To their lovely chateau


School | Growing Cilantro

Unfortunately, the rain got to it first. It was about 2 pm and Pak Budi came by my classroom with a giant plastic bag. Inside was my Valentine's package. Although it was sweet of him to deliver, it was strange because normally I have to go to the business office to pick up packges.

You might notice that this box appears to be yellow which might not seem weird except that the boxes from the USPS are white, not yellow. My box is yellow because it was haphazardly taped back together. Once I opened the plastic bag, I figured out why the business office wanted nothing to do with it:

I was almost knocked off my feet by the smell alone. Not only did I find coffee, salsa, soap, and books, but I also found some critters who had decided to hole up in the damp, fuzzy surroundings of my box. If you look closely, you can see the green dots that penetrated the cardboard.

I obviously recognized the mold (green and white fuzz) and the coffee grinds but was befuddled by the larger chunks that were also omnipresent. After Laura helped me salvage the belongings inside, I discovered that the large chunks were the cilantro seeds that had begun to sprout. At least we know that it can grow here!

At my request, my medicine had been stashed inside the bag of coffee beans, so that it wouldn't be taken by the customs guys. Unfortunately, it was apprehended in the course of this journey. Eloise (above right) was looking pretty rough and my Valentine's letters are decomposing under a blanket of white fuzz but on the bright side, everything else except the salsa made it!

Roti Bakar | Saltiga | Indonesia

Check. This. Out. Most of you might think that this looks like the leftovers from a restaurant that you might feed to your dog, but I can assure you that what you are looking at is by far the BEST culinary treat that Indonesia has to offer.

This is roti bakar. Another Indonesian street food, roti bakar literally means grilled bread...although, the term bread should be used loosely with this particular dish. Take a loaf of bread. Make three butterfly-style cuts. Slather with layers of butter, chocolate sprinkles and condensed milk. Repeat for all three sections. Place on an open grill. Toast until golden brown. Add more butter just for kicks. Enjoy under tent. Die of heart attack.

I'm A Pepper!

Rumor began circulating around Salatiga, early last week, that Dr. Pepper had landed in Salatiga. I was skeptical for several days until two of my colleagues showed up at recess, drinking Dr. Pepper! Apparently, it was being stocked at Toko Jimmy's, which I have heard about since my arrival but never visited. After recieving a make-shift map (streets aren't labeled anyways) I drove to the outskirts of Salatiga, where I saw a small white sign on a moss-covered fence, indicating I had found the alley leading to Jimmy's. Toko Jimmy's is literally in the living room of someone's house BUT check it out!:

A photo posted by Lauren Irons (@laurenirons) on