The Angkot Chronicle: Part 1

You are probably wondering what an angkot is. An angkot is short for “angkutan kota,” which translates to city transportation. An angkot looks like a van with no doors or air conditioning. Each angkot has its own route they follow depending on their color. Right now, an angkot fare for me costs 4,000 rupiah one way. Angkots can be overwhelming because they are hot and packed, so often times I use Go-Car (like UBER) to go anywhere when I am at site. But angkot for the most part is the main transportation besides motorcycle for people here. *If you want to know what an angkot is, google is your friend!*

During our PST (Pre-Service Training) we used angkots as our main means of transportation to the city center. Everytime we wanted to gather as a group in the city, Pak Arfin was always just a phone call away. The rule of riding an angkot is that if there’s still a space for a needle you still can fit one more person. The most people we’ve had in one angkot during PST were about 18 or 19 people, and that’s not including the driver. A regular angkot probably only has a capacity of 10 people. But that one time, we were able to fit in  19 GROWN AMERICANS in an angkot. The followings are some of what I heard during the 40minutes angkot ride. Now I reflect on them and  its correlation to my service (and other volunteers) for the next several months.

“I hope he doesn’t grab the wrong stick.”–Said by a male volunteer sitting in front; gear stick between his legs.

This is one of the concepts being a volunteer here in Indonesia. We really don’t know what will happen next. This is with our host family, our community, and our school. The uncertainty of events sometimes surprises us, but yet we are still here slaying, hoping whatever may come next will come in to our favor

“Girl. My knee is literally in your _______.”

Sometimes there are things that will make you say “WTF” and that is completely okay. I have had friends back home who tells me that I complain too much. No, I am not complaining. I am sharing my experiences as a volunteer. The good and the bad, it just sucks that some days there are more bads than the goods. But now I have come to realized that rather focusing on the bad and things I cannot change, I should focus more on positive and things that I could change.

“I cannot feel my hiney.”

I’ve internalized this “I cannot feel my hiney” more than I’d like to admit. Traveling here in Indonesia is not the easiest. When others ask me how far a place is from my site, I tell them that distance is a state of mind here in Indoensia. A 50 miles journey back in Washington is about less than a hour trip, but over here that could mean between 3-6 hours, depending on traffic, the weather, and the time of the day. Heck last week during the last five miles of my 55miles trip to Bandung, it took almost four hours to get to my destination. Five miles, four hours. WHAT?! Literally, I couldn’t feel my behind.

“Pak! Cepat Cepat! Berhenti.”

Pak is a term for dad or uncle; Cepat means fast; and Berhenti means stop. Sometimes we have volunteers who are just trying to finish their service. Just because we are here under the education sector, it does not mean that were going to continue being a teacher when we finish; it doesnt mean that we’re going to become a teacher. For some volunteers, their eyes are on COSing and that’s okay. What matter is that they are here now. They are contributing and continuing their amazing service to their community.

“I’m just going to lay here.”

Then we have the relaxed volunteers. The volunteers who goes with the flow. They take their service day by day. Santai aja, right? Before coming to this country, I definitely would’ve go crazy without a strict schedule. But after being here for seven months now I think I belong to this group of volunteers. A full service is very long away from the familiar. If I do not take this service day by day, I just might go crazy thinking about the everchanging future ahead of me here in Indonesia.

“I know I’m heavy. I’m sorry.”

Being together here in Indonesia gives us a sense of family. We are one big disfunctional family. That being said, we rely on each other for support, norture, and growth. By now, we all know that our experiences does not mirror anyone else’s. Those volunteers who may be having trouble at their site may think that them sharing their concern to other volunteers means they are complaining. They are afraid that by sharing their hardships with other volunteers, they are bringing them down too. Lemme tell you this, No. You are not bringing us down. We’re all in this together, and we are here to lift you up. No need to apologize. STOP APOLOGIZING. We love you.

“Let’s all take a selfie!”

Then there’s me. Integration is one of the many keys to a successful service, right? But sometimes with this I forget to live in the moment because I am too busy documenting the moment. We also have other volunteers who carries their cameras with them everywhere they go. Documenting every little they can. This is inside the class, during a presentation, or hiking up a mountain. ALSO this goes to every Indonesian I meet who never cease to forget to ask for a selfie.

I feel comfortable. It’s okay You can lean on me.”

Lastly, the most important part, we’re all in this together. I cannot emphasized that any more. We are all family here, like it or not. Admist of all the dramas, the alcohols, the hook ups, the crying, the complaints, we are all that we’ve got here. Those who can, shall lift the ones who cannot.

Riding the angkot that night was the most fun angkot ride I’ve ever had. Yes it was difficult because I was squatting half of the time but at the end of that whole ride, it taught me lessons about what my service with Peace Corps would be like. It taught me that it’s not going to be a smooth ride. There will be challenges along the way. But just because there are challenges, it doesn’t mean that it’s not going to be fun and that I’m going to face it alone. The angkot ride taught me that no matter what our (Peace Corps volunteers) experiences are, no matter how different they are, that we are in this journey together. TOGETHER.

Riding Pak Arfin’s Angkot to Kota Kediri

***Cue High School Musical’s We’re All in this Together***


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