salute her when her birthday comes.

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

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I am a very lucky girl.

Here’s how it went down: A raucous island party on a remote Sumatran lake, my 25th birthday, a long out-of-touch middle school friend, local palm wine, a traditional Indonesian skirt, and a seriously kickass time.

To rewind a bit–a few months ago I reconnected with an old friend and as two international expats from our rural Oregon town, we had everything in common. He was planning a trip out to Indonesia to meet his new step-family, and B and I were in need of a tropical scene and renewed visas.

A bit of simple planning and a couple short flights later, we (re)met, had a beer, chewed the fat, and meshed into the ideal traveling trio.

We spent the next week on this Sumatran island: A supremely clean lake to jump a few meters from our front door, motorbikes to troll the mountain villages on, a plethora of fresh pineapple juice and avocados and a crew of local and traveling friends.

For my birthday, a week into our Indonesian travels, these two amazing, kind and often ridiculous boys pulled off a pretty spectacular evening complete with chocolate cake, too much fun, and a serenading local band that made this far-from-home-girl feel perfectly loved.

So, to my two favorite tank-top clad boys: terimakasih.

romance, learn to dance.

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

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When you hear the drums coming, see the villagers marching, and are waved over to join in on the procession, go.

When a warm glass of shared Beerlao is passed to you at 10 AM and the dancing village elders chant for you to chug it, chug.

When you end up packed in the temple with all the villagers, drenched in humidity, and everyone around you bows in unison to the floor to pray, pray. Thank whomever it is you thank that you are here, in this temple that is open to the locals twice a year. That they have invited to join their ceremony, that the eldest in the village is blessing you and the monks are praying for you.

And when, an hour later, the bowing, chanting and praying stops and the music starts, get ready to dance. Don’t hesitate when the woman next to you holds out her hand and motions for you to rise, to dance right here, right now, in this temple, alone and in front of an entire village.

Just dance. Dance your hybrid white-girl-lao-traditional dance.

They’ll laugh at you, with you, with each other. They’ll point and make jokes about your height, your skin color, your moves. They’ll say you’re beautiful.

And they will love you. They’ll embrace you and share with you the most intimate parts of their cultures and their lives.

And when you leave hours later, woozy from heat and boiled chicken and Lao whiskey, you will love them, too.