Living in a third world country can be crazy at times, different at others, or just plain exhausting! Have you ever wondered how your life would be different if you lived overseas? This is your chance to walk in another person’s shoes!
Shopping can take it’s toll when you have to go to up to five different small stores to find things on your list. I no longer make a list at home of things I need to get. My lists consist of things I wish I had. I then go to the store to see what is available and make my meal plans based on what I found! Shopping at a pasar (open air market) is usually where you get all your produce.
Our small town is only accessible by air. That means everything is flown in and is very expensive. That also means that some things just can’t be found. We cannot buy beef, processed meats or cheese here, among other things. We buy those in bulk from another town and have them shipped in. I just spent $100 on cheese blocks, which I shred and put in the freezer.
9. LANGUAGE BARRIERS
My husband and I spent 11 months in language school to learn Indonesian. Wow! That was a new experience! Then we moved to Papua, where they speak the language differently! (Think deep south dialect to a northerner or vice versa.) I still struggle daily communicating and end up using sign language a lot. Making sure I say I want shredded kalapa (coconut) instead of kapala (head) takes a LOT of brain power!!
No dryers here! This means all of our laundry is hung outside or on the back porch when it rains. Did you know that hanging your clothes up outside cuts the life of the item in half?? It also stretches everything out. Of course, having all your clothes fit loosely can be pretty good for your morale! Washing the cloth diapers is another issue altogether…
7. DATE NIGHT OR FAMILY NIGHT
Because Wamena is such a small town with no roads going out, there is not much to do. We don’t have any movie theaters, museums, malls or nice restaurants. We have a few small restaurants with local foods and good places to hike. That means we must make our own fun! On our anniversary this year my husband and I dropped off the kids at a friends house, went to eat dinner locally and came back home to share sodas in front of a fire in the fireplace. Games with the family are always fun, too.
6. MEDICAL CARE
Going to the hospital here is a very scary option for many. You really don’t know what the care will be like, or if the X-ray machine is operational. Fortunately, we have several expats (people, like us, who live in another country) who have medical backgrounds! Our first contact would be Karen, our resident nurse. She has been in the country for 30 years and knows so much about living in a tropical country and all the illnesses that come with it. If she doesn’t know the answer, she will contact one of the expat doctors. There are no prescription drugs here, so they look up local names of drugs for us and we are off to the pharmacy to get what we need. If there is a serious problem that requires a medical evacuation, one of our small airplanes will take us to the city of Sentani where they will assess the need and make the big decisions about whether to evacuate to Jakarta (the capital city) or even Singapore.
5. COMPLETELY FROM SCRATCH
I will be forever grateful to my mom for teaching me how to cook! But cooking here is a whole different ballgame! We can’t pick up a can of cream of mushroom soup, or a rotisserie chicken on a moments notice. Everything we make has to be made from the basic ingredients. I use my pressure cooker a lot to do canning & keep things like red beans, green beans and other veggies on hand and ready to eat. We also must “sanitize” all of our produce by using bleach, vinegar, or other disinfecting agent. Many times the ladies who sell the produce wash their items in the closest ditch.
The following video was made by a friend, Natalie, and is a funny rendition of some of the things we go through while cooking here. Although everything in the video doesn’t happen at the same time, you would be surprised how true this can be!
4. ORDERING HOMESCHOOL MATERIALS
Packages take anywhere from 3 weeks to multiple months to get to us. We have to start thinking about homeschooling way in advance! This means that I usually miss out on the good sales and deals! This year I had to order my materials in February, and they still did not get to us until June. It is hard for this curriculum jIunkie to make all my decisions at one time. Then I have to stick by my decision. I do enjoy getting digital items. This makes it much easier to plan and get things early.
If you are interested in seeing my curriculum choices for this year, CLICK HERE.
I do not drive a car here. This is a personal choice and many of our ladies drive very well. I admire them so much, and then I go get on my Scoopy Scooter and take off. My reasons are quite real. I am scared to death I am going to kill someone! The roads here are small, full of potholes, pedestrians, motorcycles, becaks (bicycle carts), and trucks. Just the thought of navigating that in a larger vehicle makes me start to sweat. Of course, some people have just as much fear of riding a motorcycle. For me, it is small and agile. I feel more in control in the chaos around me and I can see everything more clearly. Of course, it does make shopping more interesting, especially if one of the children needs to go with me!
We cannot drink the water here. Most of what we use for our houses is collected from rain water, but none of it is safe to drink. We must filter everything we drink. I can cook with the rain water if it boils, but even washing fruits and veggies must be done with a final rinse in clean, filtered water. There are so many different bacteria, amoebas, and sicknesses we have to be very diligent with this. Even brushing your teeth in the water can be a big mistake!
Probably the hardest thing about being overseas is living away from our family. The time and expense that it takes to get to where we are makes it very hard to have visitors. The kids really miss their cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents. We miss births, anniversaries, holidays, birthdays, tragedies and even deaths. We are so grateful that today’s technology allows us to keep a lot closer than it used to be, but our unreliable internet still brings a lot of challenges. Through it all, God in His Grace, is by our side strengthening and uplifting us. As my mother use to say, “The joys outweigh the sacrifices!”
The Conrad Clan
Photo taken by Simply Joy Photography