Well, one month has passed. To be fair, I have spent a great deal of it in discomfort. These past two days I have been tied up with a fever and intense stomach cramps. I hope it will pass soon.
However, it hasn’t all been pain and misery. Indonesia is ripe with wonderfully kind and generous people. Though they don’t always show it at first. Some of the locals have this funny habit of glaring at me as I walk past. A bitter scowl, almost. But when I respond with a friendly nod, they smile back so wide that their entire face morphs into a bright glow. It is one of my favourite little things about my life in Jakarta.
False first impressions are ubiquitous here.
It took me nearly three hours to leave the airport. I arrived in Jakarta on time at noon. I had a minor hiccup with my visa process, other than that I was off the plane and ready to leave within an hour and a half. The remaining time was left double checking and repacking my bag. I was daddling. I guess I was afraid for my life to change. Sure, I had prepared for my life to change, but I just needed to take one last look.
I eventually plucked up the courage and was on my way in a blue bird cab. Before arriving in Jakarta, all that people had to say about the city was the heat, the smell, or the fact that it will sink. I left with the overwhelming impression that I was walking into a polluted concrete jungle. But nobody told me how green it was.
Along the highway there are bountiful plants splaying over the edges of the barricades. Plants I had only seen in pictures, and ones I always longed to see. A constant canopy of bush, broken occasionally by small wetlands and fields of vegetation. Hidden gems in the pockets of the city.
Then the life of the city starts to appear. Little shacks poke out of the pockets. Tin roofs and cracked orange tiles wrapped in a tissue of green. Roofs are the resting places for old tires, shoes, you name it. Little tuck-tuck alleys packed with traffic. A parade of motorbikes down each one. Families of three, four, and even five pass by casually on their little vespas. No helmets. There’s a perfume of life.
This may be too rosy of a picture for Jakarta. The past month has shown me how challenging it is to live here. The breaching heat. The claustrophobic roads. Bats, rats, and roaches. I am certain my cholesterol has sky-rocketted. But no one mentions this greener side of Jakarta. They say that Bali is green or Bandung, so I was pleasantly surprised to witness it is true in Jakarta too. It reminded me why I came in the first place.