Bahasa Book 1B

Whew! What a week. For ten days straight I feasted on vocabulary and munched sentence structure for dessert. Now it is time to take a deep breath and try not to puke.

This week has confirmed it. There’s just nothing better than learning a language. I never felt it with Spanish in high school, so I must have caught this language bug in college. Now there’s no going back. Switching from Chinese to Indonesian is hugely gratifying. I estimate that my bahasa after ten days of instruction is similar to my Chinese after two years. That’s a bold statement, but keep in mind that: a) I really started with Indonesian on my own more than a month ago, not just ten days ago; b) my first two years of Chinese were in the U.S.; and c) my Chinese still really sucked after two years.

But still, I am pretty happy with my accomplishment of finishing Wisma Bahasa Books 1A and 1B in ten days. I learned a LOT; in terms of usefulness the material really is comparable to the first two years of Chinese. The problem is that I clearly haven’t had much time to practice. I stutter. I can’t understand when people talk. It can take 10 seconds for me to think of a word. But a foundation is there in my head. I know about 800 words, enough to get most points across if I’m creative. I’ve learned basic sentence structures. The last lesson today was a critical one: conjunctions like ‘while’, ‘although’, ‘if’, ‘because’, and ‘in order to’, powerful tools that can be used to construct complex thoughts.

The foundation I’ve built over the last week and a half doesn’t look like much on it’s own. Or more accurately, it sounds terrible. But with repetition and practice while I travel, I think I have a chance to get pretty good before I leave the country. Basically, the really fun part of the language starts now. I get to talk to people a lot!

Class just ended about two hours ago and I’m still putting together my plans for the next few days. Tomorrow I’d like to see Borobodur and Prambanan, the world famous temples near Yogyakarta. But, I haven’t arranged transportation yet so that plan may be optimistic. I also want to climb Gunung Merapi and Gunung Merbabu, two volcanoes just north of Yogya. I’ve met some other students at Wisma Bahasa and we’ve made plans to climb Merapi together on Friday. The way it’s done here is to start climbing in the middle of the night, after midnight. You get to the top about 4 in the morning after a few hours hiking, watch the sun rise, and then head back down. Gunung Merapi is almost 3000 meters high, about 9500 feet, so it’s going to be cold up there. My group is all set to leave Yogya with a car and a local guide on Friday evening at 7pm, returning Saturday morning. The departure point for the hike is a town called Selo, nestled between Merapi and Merbabu about three hours’ drive from Yogyakarta.

My dilemma is whether to climb Merbabu as well as Merapi. The Merbabu climb is similar to Merapi. They both start in Selo. Merbabu is a bit taller, less famous, and has less smoke belching from its top. I’m tempted because I’ve heard that the views from Merbabu are even better: you can gaze upon Merapi in all it active magnificence and also see some other volcanoes farther afield. But, my group will be returning to Yogya Saturday morning. Should I stay in Selo, find a new guide, climb Merbabu on Saturday night, and make my own way back to Yogya on Sunday? That would also mean checking out of Homestay Heru on Friday and dealing with all my luggage in Selo instead of just a small day (night?) pack, since I don’t want to pay for two nights when I’m not staying here.

Sigh. This is what first world problems in a third world country look like.

As the WSDOT weather hotline likes to remind us, “This message will be updated as conditions change.”


One thought on “Bahasa Book 1B

  1. Ah, Andy – your dilemmas are so different from mine! Refreshing. I suppose if you can learn Chinese and Indonesian, I can improve my Spanish. Lots of the patients here in Yakima speak Spanish. I am in Yakima now and for the next couple of days. So you may be climbing mountains when next I have a good opportunity to call you on Skype. It is finally snowing like crazy here too, so getting back to Ellensburg may be challenging. Love your posts, keep it up! Love, Mom

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