Every day I see something I’m not sure about

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hWriting about my experiences overseas, I walk a tightrope of trying to avoid making the every day seem precious or exotic and not letting go of what I will wish later that I had documented when I’m gone.

While living in Michigan, the list of things I have yet to capture on film is pretty much limited to the magical lightening streaks that I often see through my windshield while I’m driving. Yet, every day I am in Indonesia, I see things that I wish I had my camera out to capture. And the list grows because there is so much I don’t even know I’m missing. But here’s a list of things I’ve seen from a taxi window but couldn’t capture in time:

  • A block of ice the size of a filing cabinet tipped on its side, being hauled on the back of a motorbike (ojek).
  • People riding on the end of a bundle of bamboo that overhangs a truck cab.
  • Groups of people packed into the bed of a pickup with giant sides–one leg in and one leg out of sides of the truck bed.
  • Up to 5 guys on a motorbike together.
  • People crossing heavy traffic with their hands out and no one getting hurt or cursed out or flashed a rude hand gesture.
  • A stream of ojeks crossing an intersection with my taxi driver passing through the middle perpendicularly without having to swerve or come to a screeching halt.
  • Babies sandwiched between their parents on motorbikes.
  • 10-11 year olds driving motorbikes.

Here are 2 photos of things that initially perplexed me–and one that still puzzles me. An Indonesian person kindly explained the first two.

A) What is this truck doing?

What is this truck doing?

What is this truck doing?










It is taking water from this man-made stream to be used to water the grounds.

B) Does this sign mean what I think it means?

Does this mean something else than I think it means?

Does this mean something else than I think it means?








Cat (pronounced “chot”) means paint in Indonesian. You can take your car here to be repainted.

C) After some heavy rains, how do you clear the mud?

This machine looks like a wet vac for mud? Is this possible?

This machine looks like a wet vac for mud? Is this possible?








I missed the photo of the people wading waste deep into the mud to clear the mud using this machine. So this question is still only partially answered.

What are some of your missed moments?


About jaclynfre

Tech integration specialist, recipe adventurer, fast walker, sporadic writer, aunt, sister and daughter
This entry was posted in culture shock, life and culture and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Every day I see something I’m not sure about

  1. aggiekesler says:

    I have this feeling everyday! Oftentimes I will whip out my phone to take a picture, only to find the picture is blurry at best. I delete it, hoping to remember that moment in a mental snapshot. I love this idea of recording things that I can’t/haven’t taken a picture of yet. I might just have to try this in my writer’s notebook!
    I have a feeling we would totally be friends if we met…we have a lot in common! 🙂

    • jaclynfre says:

      Too bad I’m not staying on the international teaching circuit because if my experience here has been any indication we would eventually end up at the same school in a few years time. I’d love to read that post if you end up publishing it. Our comment exchange was the inspiration for this slice. Thanks!!

      • aggiekesler says:

        Why are you not staying international?

      • jaclynfre says:

        I have a condo back in the US and I am close to my family. I actually took a 2 year leave of absence from my school back home. So, it’s time for me to return. I’ve appreciated the experiences that living overseas has given me, but I am looking forward to the familiar again. I grew up moving around and I have a theory that people who have moved around a lot are homebodies when they grow up and vice versa. What do you think?

      • aggiekesler says:

        Well, that may be true. I lived in the same house from birth until I graduated college, and now, I’m living abroad with no desire to move back in the near future. Good luck with your move back, and I hope you enjoy every minute of your time abroad! 🙂

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