Tuesday, November 16, 2010

How I Met Your Father, Part 1

I met Mick on January 2nd, 1997 while riding in a jeep/truck thingy through the Northern Territory in the Australian Outback.  That is the absolute truth... but it does get stranger than fiction from here!

But before I can get to all that I need to explain what on earth I was doing in the southern hemisphere at all...

So... I was 26 years old and had been teaching 4th grade at Anderson Elementary for several years.  I loved it... but I was getting a bit burned out.  It was a tough school and although I loved teaching there and loved my students with all my heart, it was a big challenge and took a lot out of me every day.  I needed a change.  And then one morning my friend David Desmond (AKA: M!lo) called me at 5:30am to tell me that he had moved to Indonesia and had a job teaching 3rd grade at this amazing new school that looked like Club Med and that wanted English speaking teachers and I should fax my resumé, etc... etc... etc...  I told him that I didn't know where Indonesia was and was he aware that there was a time difference???  But on the way to school that morning I told this story to my friend Tamara who I carpooled with and who taught music at my school.  She also knew M!lo and so I told her all that he shared about how amazing this school was and how they were hiring and how we could get a job teaching five degrees below the equator and living in paradise.  There was a lull in the conversation as we both contemplated the days (and the kids!) ahead of us... and (no lie!) she looked over at me and said, "I'll do it if YOU do it!"  

And that's how I made the life-changing 
decision to move overseas.

Sekolah Pelita Harapan in Karawaci
on the island of Java near Jakarta, Indonesia
But it turned out to be a fantastic decision!  The school I taught at was AMAZING.  Absolutely beautiful- 2 swimming pools, one "lagoon" style, one Olympic sized, and 4 outdoor basketball courts where we played roller hockey- taught by all the Canadian teachers, of course!  The "hallways" were "breezeways" and it was just way too incredible and beautiful for my limited writing abilities to describe.  And the students were just precious and SO. FREAKING. SMART.  I taught 3rd grade and my students spoke 3 languages: Bahasa Indonesia, English and Mandarin.  Yeah.  I felt like a moron. Teachers came from all over: Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and of course us Yanks.  The students adopted whatever accent their teacher had and so it was so funny to see the kids speaking with an American English accent vs. a New Zealand English accent. One day my student Ketty came up to me with a stricken look on her face and asked me, "Miss Gayla... why when Mr. Michael want to say 'today', he always say 'to DIE'???"  And I very calmly told her that Mr. Michael was from Australia and that meant that he didn't speak English very well. ;-)

 A few of my students:
Sharonne, Laura, Dismas and Andrew
So the job was incredible but the perks it came with were even better.  The school set us up with housing and of course the house we lived in had it's own maids quarters so of course we HAD A MAID!   My two housemates and I (Tamara, mentioned above and Alexis- TOO much fun we had!) "shared" her and paid her a measly $75 per month which we were told was a bit lavish at the time. I lived there for two years and seriously couldn't tell you where our maid bought our food, nor how she cooked it, nor the process used to clean up after us.  She washed and ironed all our clothes, made our beds, kept the house spotless, bought, prepared, and cleaned up all our food, and took letters to the post office for us each day.  OH- and since I brought my cat with me (that's a whole 'nuther blog post) she changed Miles' litter box.  Aaaaaaaahhhhh... my life was so easy...

This is MILES.  I loved him so much
that I took him overseas with me!
Okay... so where were we????  Oh, yeah... living in paradise with someone waiting on me hand and foot, that's right.

All these words and I'm still in Indonesia- not even in Australia yet!  So we're gonna call this 'Part 1' and call it a day.  Tune in tomorrow to hear about shopping with the Swiss and saying "Riiiiiiicolaaaaaaaaa" while blowing into a digeridoo.

Sampai jumpa nanti!  (Bahasa Indonesia for: "see you later"- Yes!  I can speak Indonesian!  And dang it!  It NEVER comes in handy...)


Karenkool said...

I knew nothing about this part of your life. WOW!!!

"Tune in tomorrow to hear about shopping with the Swiss and saying "Riiiiiiicolaaaaaaaaa" while blowing into a digeridoo."

Cracking me up, Gayla!!!

Kimberlie said...

Oh yes, I know this story because my lovely sister, Alexis, lived it with you. AND for anyone who dares to doubt when you get to the really good part, I can say IT IS ALL TRUE. Because my sister told me so. :)

missy said...

i am hooked. everyone's love story is beautiful, but yours starts in indonesia and ends up in australia?! i can't wait for part 2!

WildFlowers said...

i lived in jakarta indonesia when i was a child as my father took a job there. it was funny reading your post because it was very similar to how we lived while there. crazy stuff! such a different way of life over there for sure. a cultural shock indeed!

JenRene Owens said...

A really cool story! wow! thanks for sharing! i am still seeking your email address. I met you at the adoptioon conference - All moved in now! smile - Jennifer owens - my email : jennifer.owens@owensgrouptraining.com

Selam! G'day! Hello!