If you are wondering where in the world Banyuwangi is, then here it is
Located somewhere in East Java, Banyuwangi is very near to Bali. If I’m not mistaken, it took me just 40 minutes by mini van (the Banyuwangi people call it ‘Lin’) at dawn with a very clear traffic to Ketapang Port where I had to take ferry to cross to Gilimanuk Port, Bali.
So, along my staying in Banyuwangi somewhere in late of March till early June 2016, I met countless people in various events from life to work matter. But I want to shortlist 5 people who truly meant a lot to me. In particular, these 5 people had unintentionally involved themselves in making my staying period there seems short as compared to the actual 2 months staying. Time flies!!!
When I had my teaching practical in Sekolah Menengah Atas Negeri Giri (SMAGI), Banyuwangi alongside Ika (cream hijab) and Hannah (pink hijab), for 2 months, Bu Yuli was the one who took us a tour around the school area. We even ate our first lunch there with her. She particularly teaches English and was the homeroom teacher of grade X Class 6. I struggled a lot to adjust my first week there, adjusting to the language barrier, local foods, syllabus content and to make friends. But with her presence, most of them became easier for me to handle.
The picture above was actually our very first picture with her under the humble and bushy tent. We (me, Ika and Hannah) happen to like the tent after 3 days staying alongside Bu Yuli. If she didn’t mention her age, I wouldn’t believe it when she said she’s over 50. That is not possible! To me, most Indonesian doesn’t look like their age. They mostly look younger than I had expected. In this case, it’s Bu Yuli. Only after she uncover her hair that I forced myself to believe her age. The silver hair she has had confirmed my doubt. When we stayed at the tent for 3 days (Pramuka Grade X Scouts camping activity in Licin, Banyuwangi), Bu Yuli cooked us fried prawn coated with spiced flour. The moment I tasted the prawn, I almost cried. They tasted exactly like my mom’s cooking. I was badly homesick, terribly missing Malaysia then. She just giggled when I mentioned that.
During our last day at SMAGI, her Grade X Class 6 made a surprise montage compiling their hopes and wishes for us before we departed for good. At the end of montage was her soothing message and thanks for this wonderful moment we had spent together. I cried a river delivering my last farewell speech. That was a “The best and beautiful things cannot be seen nor touch, but are left in the heart.” life experience. Bu Yuli, if you happen to read my article here, I truly wanted to thank you a bunch for your kindness, consideration and love to me, Ika and Hannah. We might not be your most valuable moment in life, but you are to me.
Pak Heri is a cheeky and bubbly senior teacher teaching Geography in SMAGI. We had our first wishy washy conversation in the Teacher’s Office talking about Malaysia. Then, we (Ika, Hannah and me) became closer with him after he offered us to join the Geography hiking program to Ijen Crater. It was a day trip that we had been given priviledge to skip one schooling day by the school headmaster! Hehe. Along the trip at Ijen Crater, he introduced us to lots of Geography teacher from the whole region of Banyuwangi.
I still remember there was time when we almost had to cancel a trip to Kawah Wurong due to miscommunication about the three of us (Ika, Hannah and me) being Malaysian tourist. The tour guide said, we had to pay extra since we are foreigner and coming there as tourist, not to do fieldwork trip. So, all the teachers went mad and they had a small discussion among them, finding the best solution in defending us. In the end, they had the issue settled without us knowing how they did it, even till this day (the moment I’m typing this article). Being not athletic, I had to stop at several checkpoints to gather stamina and Pak Heri didn’t hesitate accompanying me together with Ika and Hannah.
There was even a male teacher at around 40 who offered me his arm so I can support myself better while climbing. That was so nice of them! While in the four-wheel drive descending from Kawah Wurong, I showed them Malaysian Identification card and petrol station points card. He liked the idea of collecting points over filling a petrol tank! Just few weeks before our we returned to Malaysia, he treated us to Nasi Rawon he claimed to be the best in town. Even to this day, I can’t forget still those memories we had.
My most memorable moment with her was Malang trip. Malang is tourist attraction almost similar to Cameron Highland, Malaysia offering cold and cozy atmosphere as its driven points. She happen to own a house in Malang. If I am still senile, Banyuwangi to Malang took 8 hours by car driving the non-highway route with only 2 lanes road. Sounds pretty agonizing huh?
So, here goes the story on how the 6 of us (Me, Ika, Hannah, Ain – navy blue hijab, Nani – peace pose, Pika – specky at the back with peace pose) ended up in the wonderful trip to Malang for 3 days. Bu Rahayu is a Deutsch teacher in SMAGI so she obviously knew the three of us (Ika, Hannah and me). Since she think we haven’t had any trip outside Banyuwangi yet, she had been inviting us to Malang as a guest. What I mean by guest is, she will accomodate and feed us along our staying there. The only cost we had to share pay was the petrol or the Banyuwangi people call it ‘bensin’. She said her car can take up to 8 seaters at one time. Including herself, the driver and three of us, we still have 3 empty seats! So, we asked her if we could bring our friends along and she unbelievably said yes.
That’s why if you see the picture above, there were 6 of us, Malaysian students documenting our beautiful memory together with Bu Rahayu. During our stay in Malang, Bu Rahayu took us to Jatim Park and Selecta. But that was not best part of staying there. The best part was the looong journey from Banyuwangi to Malang and vise versa. People said, trip makes people closer. Somehow it’s true. I would not know how she is when she’s at home, how kind and considerate she is when attending to guest and how warm her small family is.
This is a picture of me on our first day at SMAGI. Apparently, the National Examination or Ujian Nasional (UN) was being held involving the grade XII students.
First of all, let me introduce you to the individuals in the picture. The one on the most left is the Headmaster, Pak Mujib. Standing next to Pak Mujib wearing white shirt is the head district or Bupati of Banyuwangi, Mr Abdullah Azwar Anas whose on his duty to visit schools conducting UN. Now, standing at the most right is me followed by Ika – wearing black pants, Hannah wearing maroon hijab and the person I’m going to honour in my article, Bu Wahyu wearing traditional Batik attire in blue.
Bu Wahyu has young kids and was always cheerful. She teaches Biology and live just a few blocks from my residential area. So, there were times she came to our lodging bringing foods for my housemates and I. I still remember, it was very late evening and I was about to break my fast. On the table, I have my meal ready and was looking out to the brick pavement outside the gate and she arrived in motorcycle. She brought me and Hannah spicy fried noodle and coconut milk jelly as dessert. “You are fasting. Enjoy these with your friends.” I was speechless.
I didn’t expect her to be very considerate! How thoughtful she is. She said the next day when I thanked her at the teacher’s office, “It’s okay. I know you miss home-cook meal.” There are a lot ways on how someone can really touch our heart, and for Bu Wahyu’s case, it’s her sincerity in her cooking. I can never forget all that. Never.
Bu Asiah hold an important pose in SMAGI. I don’t remember exactly what it is though. She rarely stay at Teacher’s Office because she has her own room. The very first connection I had with her was when I was busy searching for a van which can accomodate 7 of us to Surabaya International Airport from Banyuwangi to catch a flight to Penang, Malaysia.
Instead of me calling out to several travel agencies, she did that on my behalf! She said, “I will try to bargain for a good price.” Who else could (can) say no to that. However, even after try calling and asking for quotation from several travel agencies, the price was out of our budget. Indonesian tends to think that us Malaysian are rich, when we are actually not! Hehe.
Eventually, she suggested to rent the school ELF instead. Each of us can pay less that what travel agencies would charge. We just had to pay for petroleum and the driver. That’s it! No words could describe her act of generosity. I was out of vocabulary to even thank her enough. To add salt into injury, she treated us to lunch on our last day in Banyuwangi before departing to Surabaya at midnight. How much more debt should I owe her?
The dramatic gravy of Bakso during that last lunch we had with her was still engulfing my virtual tastebud. It’s always food, generosity and thoughtful act that always touch one’s heart. They remain in one’s memory for good and for as long as one have her conscience embraced. In that matter, I admit it. Those generosity was warm. No. It still IS warm. As ever as I could remember those memories.
Thanks for the memories. I hold to them so dearly. Glad that I met you ♥