I can’t believe it’s the last day of my three week workshop in Pekanbaru, Indonesia. We had a mini-conference in which the participants all gave 10 minute presentations, Tara and I gave plenary speeches, which we were tentative about doing, but gosh, everyone’s so nice here so how do you say no? A teacher, who’d just returned from two years with the Fulbright program in Michigan where he earned his Masters at Michigan Central University, gave a presentation on that program.
Tara and I had been given local dresses and batik dresses to wear the day before. We also were asked to wear — you guessed it — headscarves so we did in the morning. Later it was just too hot to do so. The big wigs had all gone so it was okay. Evidently, the school is debating whether internationals guests should be required to wear headscarves.
After the event we had a lot of pictures taken and were presented with more gifts — fruit and a huge box of snacks.
Then we were invited to go to a crafts exposition. Tara needed to pack since tomorrow we’re getting taken on a day trip to a waterfall and a temple and Sunday she leaves super early. I figured why not.
Two teachers took me to the new exposition center which is a showplace. It’s got marble and gold plating. We got there a bit late, after 8 pm when most kiosks were shut and shutting down. However, there were some interesting crafts to see from all over Indonesia. I didn’t expect to buy anything, but there was a cool short sleeve dress with batik insets that I got for $13!
Any, a teacher, had brought her sister, who was hungry so Aleph, the other teacher suggested we go to this rustic coffee shop where artists and actors hang out. It’s beside a striking theater with a majestic traditional design (photos to follow when I get home). We had a lemon ginger drink and shared French fries. Aleph knows everyone in town. So he was friends with the guard from the teacher complex, who let us in the closed building too see an exhibit of paintings. Before leaving an actor we met asked me to do a short video (just on a phone) to draw the tourists to Pekanbaru. I raved about the people and the mosques and tried to repeat “Come to Riau” in a local dialect. (In addition to Bahasa Indonesia there are dozens of local languages in Indonesia.)
I’ve gotten used to surprises in Pekanbaru and wonder what tomorrow’s excursion will bring.