It’s been just over a month since I arrived in Manokwari, and things have fallen into a routine. If I’m not posting as much it’s because it’s starting to feel like normal life, and I don’t want to be that person who writes about what they had for lunch and how they got another mosquito bite and bores the crap out of everyone. (For the record: nasi kuning, and actually it was several mosquito bites, probably from while I was at the market yesterday buying avocados.) But if you’re curious, here’s more or less what I do on a daily basis.
6-6:30am: The roosters are crowing, Jhio’s probably yelling, and unless I’m unusually exhausted or wearing earplugs it’s useless trying to fall back asleep. Wake up, read for a bit. If there’s somebody else staying in the house get a cup of tea and breakfast and head out to the porch to eat and talk, if not eat in the kitchen and maybe spend a little time transcribing my recordings. Record an intro to yesterday’s recording with my name, the language, speaker, location, and date. Quick mandi (bucket shower), get dressed, head up to campus by 8:30 or 9.
9:00: Arrive at the office and collapse into chair, sweating profusely. Even at this hour it’s hot and humid. Thank god for air conditioning on campus. Gulp down some water. I’d show up earlier, when the walk up would be cooler, but it’s locked until Eny arrives. Once I’ve caught my breath, head back outside to the doorway where I can get campus wifi. Check email and facebook for an hour.
10-12:30: Transcribe old recordings, interspersed with games of freecell and solitaire. Process yesterday’s recording – add the intro, cut out all the chatting at the beginning and end, make sure it’s audible and cut out any loud bangs and coughs - and enter it all on my spreadsheet so I know what’s what and what we talked about when. Make a cup of tea. Get a headache. Keep track of things I don’t understand from what I’m transcribing to ask about today. Bug Eny to explain all the Indonesian words from my recordings that I don’t know.
12:30: Go home for lunch. Mandi again. (Room temperature at the office is 86 degrees, low 90's outside by mid-afternoon. You'd re-shower too.) Eat. Figure out what on earth to ask to fill up the rest of the elicitation time (I mean… make an elicitation plan of pressing research questions). If there’s time, turn on the a/c and read in bed for a while.
1:40: Go find an ojek (motorcycle taxi) to Ibu Ice’s house. (Note: That’s ee-chay [ˈitʃe], not ‘ice’ like you find in the freezer.) Hopefully it’s a quiet ride. Otherwise answer the same string of questions despite barely being able to hear over the motor and through the helmet. (From America. One month so far. I’m a student at Unipa. I’m here to study local languages. Yes I definitely have a boyfriend. No I don’t need a Papuan boyfriend too. In fact I’m married. With two children. Funny how that slipped my mind just now.)
2:00: Arrive at Ibu’s. Argue with the ojek driver about the price. (No, I’ve paid Rp7,000 every day for the last month, don’t even try telling me it’s 10,000. Saya orang barat, bukan orang bodoh.) Complain about the weather (hot and humid, looks like rain), turn on the recorder.
|Saturday elicitation with Tante Lorensina|
2-3:30 or 4pm: Elicitation. This, more or less, is why I’m here. If you want to know more about what it is exactly that I’m doing, I’ll refer you to this post from last summer that sums it up pretty well. In a nutshell: I ask silly questions to try to figure out how the language works, get translations for add sentences, record stories, and ask a million times in various ways about what the difference is between these two words that are almost the same but one has a suffix or a different vowel or something. Luckily Ibu is an elementary school teacher and has the patience of a saint. Also she thinks it’s hilarious when I mis-construct a sentence, and thinks it’s great when I ask a ton of questions. If only she could explain the difference between –we and –wa we’d be golden. Getting better at the tense/aspect thing though.
Eventually: Run out of things to ask and take an ojek home. Gulp some more water, possibly mandi – it’s hot up on Ibu’s balcony, but the breeze on the ojek is fantastic. Lay down exhausted, and swear that you’ll get up in half an hour and work. Read in bed til dinner.
6:30pm: Put on bugspray. Eat. Watch some Masterchef with the family. Maybe go transcribe or read an article, maybe watch Animal Planet until bed.
9pm: Take malaria pills, maybe mandi (2x/day is probably average, 3x if it’s hotter than usual.) Maybe it’s the heat, but everything’s twice as tiring out here. Thank god for a/c at home. Read in bed for half an hour, pass out by 9:30 or 10. Repeat tomorrow.
Variations on a theme:
|Mexican beans, guacamole, salsa and papaya.|
-If it’s a Wednesday, skip afternoon elicitation and lead reading circle instead. And by ‘lead reading circle’ I mean teach an hour-long intro phonology class for a handfull of students, in Indonesian, based on the five pages they were supposed to read from the Bruce Hayes textbook. Go over once more the difference between a phoneme and an allophone and how to tell which is what in a given language. That gives an extra hour for transcription beforehand and an hour afterwards too.
-If it’s a Saturday, skip the office entirely. 10am elicitation with Tante Lorensina and her husband Marten Windesi. Lorensina speaks the Wondama dialect; Marten knows that and (unsurprisingly) Windesi. Head home at 11. Afternoon elicitation as usual with Ibu Ice.
-Sunday: all bets are off. Relax, read, work, pull out the usb modem to check email from home and pray the stars are aligned right so it’ll actually connect. Play with the puppy, Tigerlily (so named because she’s tiger-striped, and who already answers to it, probably because I fed her a piece of fish while repeating it over and over). Maybe cook with Virgine. (Mexican rice and beans yesterday, with salsa and guacamole. Virgine wanted to try burritos after seeing them discussed in the Battleship movie, but tortillas proved unobtainable. Fr. and I were in heaven, everyone else was seriously weirded out by avocado in with garlic and chili rather than with chocolate in a milkshake.)
-If there’s another researcher staying in the house with access to a motorbike (this week, for example): jalan sore (evening rides) out into the city to get a juice, check out the market, or buy some new pajamas to replace the old ones that’ve been sewn up four times already (the new pair’s red plaid with Alabama written on the butt surrounded by sparkly rhimestone stars); drive out to the beach (went successfully to Bakaro on Thursday; tried again on Saturday, but the tide was too strong to swim – great pictures though); see what’s to be seen. We’re both heading out to the villages in the next two days – Fr. to Wooi by way of Serui, me to Windesi and Sombokoro – so plenty of shoping for granola bars and coffee and tea and a surge protector so the generator doesn’t fry my laptop. And today the boat tickets. Ibu Ice and I are taking an eight-to-ten-hour ride on a ship out to Wasior, staying the night at her sister’s house, buying gas, rice, and cooking oil, then taking a motorized canoe three hours out to the villages, where we’ll stay a week with her family before heading home. The cabins were all sold out so I bought economy and we’ll buy a berth from one of the ship’s employees who’re selling theirs onboard. Should be an adventure. No internet and sketchy cell reception while I’m gone, but if you don’t hear from me by next Friday assume I’ve been eaten by a crocodile and divide up my belongings appropriately. Otherwise expect a lot of photos and some very non-routine stories to tell.