один мир на двоих (stusik_i_sharik) wrote,
один мир на двоих

Will Teach for Food

We were looking for a cheap guesthouse, but found a job. Well, almost. Being joined by new travel mates always opens up doors to new ways to travel that I've never even considered. In Padang, our search for cheap accommodation was coming up with nothing but tired feet and sweat stains, so I entered a school to ask them if they knew something useful. Masha came along. "Maybe we can give them an English lesson in exchange for accommodation," she suggested. I grabbed the ball and ran with it. Soon everybody in the building knew about the two white girls who wanted to teach English. An English teacher was summoned, but before she got to us we were introduced to the principal and a physics professor. It was just as well – Ewan, the physics professor, spoke better English than the English teacher.

kindergarten children of Padang

The school day was over, and we were ready to exploit our natural gift of yakedy-yak (in three to four languages if needed) the next day, but it turned out that it would be a "teacher enrichment" day, and children wouldn't have classes. Nevertheless, Ewan took us in. He lived on the outskirts of Padang in a nice house with his wife and parents-in-law. The house was a simple Muslim home with few decorations and a prayer or two on the walls. Ewan's mother-in-law has decorated the thorny bushes outside the house with empty eggshells, and those, from afar, looked like bulbs of white flowers.

But our fraternizing with the locals didn't end there.

Expats are often the most useful people in a foreign country. While waiting for the boat from the city of Padang to Siberut Island, we stumbled upon Rick, an ex-Australian, who usually takes people to a gibbon sanctuary and arranges surfing vacations. He told us the time we had allotted for exploring Siberut was insufficient as it takes a lot of time to get around the island on the little boats using rivers as highways and costs a pretty penny. The deeper you go in, the more interesting it is, but the rivers were quite dry and the indigenous tribes in the bush are pretty fed up with tourists. We had enough of that in Africa.

I was not against seeing gibbons, and Rick looked like he needed some post-Soviet drinking buddies who wouldn't mind discussing politics over vodka - his boat mysteriously gone up in flames a few days ago, a short time after a disagreement with the local government over some touchy environmental issues. We got along great and spent two nights in Rick's guesthouse while island hopping in the day and drinking Smirnoff and beer in the evenings. This is the first and last time I'm chasing vodka with salted limes.

another unexpected though welcome guest at Rick's house

Padang Gallery
Tags: city, people, places:asia:indonesia, wildlife
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