Christmas in Kupang

Trip Start Sep 01, 2010
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14
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Trip End Jul 05, 2011


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Flag of Indonesia  , East Nusa Tenggara,
Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas in Kupang

Hello everyone! I hope you've all had a restful Christmas with friends and family!

My last week of volunteering at AusCan school was spent fitting in lessons between rehearsals for the concert that Friday.  (On a side note, 8 year-old boys find it far more interesting to try on fake beards than to learn about the political accomplishments of Dwight D. Eisenhower.  Go figure.)  On Friday morning, parents filled the gathering area in the middle of the school to listen to their little ones belting out Santa Clause is coming to town and Jingle Bells.  The older kids performed a nativity, with Ted’s four taking on the roles of narrator, Joseph, innkeeper and wise man.  Nala and I also sang a little duet, which was great fun.  After the show, everyone shared a potluck lunch of yellow rice, fish, coconut jellies, beautifully decorated cakes and something that looked like fried Spam… 

Ted’s niece Pamela and her friend Emily spent Christmas with us; the two of them are half-way through a 6-month stay in Cambodia and were able to fly over for the holidays.  It was lovely to get to know them and bombard them with questions about Phnom Penh, as that’s where I’m headed next.  We day-tripped around the countryside, re-visiting the waterfalls and beaches Ted’s family took me to when I first arrived. 

My parents asked me to help choose a Christmas gift from them for the Ata-Burke family while I was here, so Ted and I decided that pooling our resources to purchase a ping-pong table for the house would be the way to go.  It’s been a big hit and everyone, from the kids to the girls who help out in the kitchen, has enjoyed honing their ping-pong skills.  I even had a lively game with Nona’s older (but surprisingly spry) uncle the other day. 

Christmas Eve was the big day, complete with roast beast and fireworks.  To get a turkey we would have needed to fly one in from Surabaya or Bali, so we settled for a chicken, the biggest Nona could find.  It clucked around the yard on Christmas morning, happily oblivious.  The next time I saw it, it was stuffed, steaming and golden brown on the table.  That’s about as fresh as chicken can get!

After supper, the kids raced to the tree and a flurry of flying wrapping paper and joyful exclamations followed.  I got them all books (surprise, surprise) and a Junior Pictionary game.  There is no real library in Kupang and books are prohibitively expensive for most of the population, so it was nice to be able to spread the literary joy! 

Mass on Christmas morning was insanely crowded, hundreds of motorbikes lining the side of the road and a throng of people packed under overflow tents, listening to the service, standing, sitting and crossing themselves whenever appropriate.  A youth choir led the music; I was fascinated by the intricate new harmonies they wove into familiar Christmas carols. 

The rest of the day was spent visiting many relatives, popping from one house to another, sipping Fanta and (the others, anyway) eating many pieces of cake.  We would be shown into the front sitting room which would invariably have a Charlie Brown-style tree in the corner, traditional weavings on the brightly-painted walls and a table full of sweets and drinks in the center of a circle of chairs.  I really enjoyed getting to know more of Nona’s extended family; how lucky am I to have this "in" with the local culture!  So glad my godfather had the travel bug…

Wishing you all the joy of the season,

Jennifer
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