Today we arrived the highlands of Aceh in the sub-district of Gayo Lues. Gayo is so high and removed that people here don’t even consider themselves Acehnese. They don’t even speak Bahasa Aceh (“bahasa” means language, so you’ll get “Bahasa Indonesia,” “Bahasa China” etc). The folks here speak Bahasa Gayo. We got here through windy, bumpy roads through protect forest land with landslides blocking half the road and forested cliffs at the edge of the other half. The field office here is the only office we have that’s made out of wood and to top it off is painted entirely peptobismal/coral with a bright blue trim on the inside.

But, as I was just telling a friend, I am spurned to update this blog out of a sense that I am constantly falling behind. I must purge myself of stories before I move onto telling the next one, even though life keeps rumbling along at the incessant pace life has a way of progressing. In keeping with sharing not just the spectacular and fabulous, but also the mundane and minutiae, I have wanted to give this event the small blog it deserves. Everyone – I cleaned the bathroom (or “kamar mandi”). It’s the bathroom that Kelly and I share connected to our room. And before you think that this is ridiculous – I started cleaning at about 10:00AM. The spritzer cleaner we had didn’t do anything. I went to the shop, said a multitude of apologies for all the chemical damage I would be doing to plants, soil microbes, birds, the whole food chain, and I bought heavy duty tile cleaner. The stuff ended up staining my toenails and fingernails blue for a couple hours, and a week later the entire top layer of skin from my hands and feet started peeling off. I came back and started cleaning that thing floor to ceiling, inside and out literally. I took a break when I was almost done and it was 6:00PM. I spent the entire day cleaning. Who in their right mind designs a bathroom that is literally floor to ceiling tile? Tile floors. Tile walls. Tile mandi (that’s the “shower”).

It was clear that no one had cleaned the bathroom at all for at least a few years, which was how long the last person who occupied it had been there. She was apparently a terrible chain smoker. Could it have contributed to the outrageous stains on the tile that would only become clean after being completely doused in the devil’s cleaning solution and then scrubbed incessantly with a little bristle brush for 10 minutes?

Do you see that lone brown tile at the top, left corner of the mandi? Imagine that EVERYWHERE.

In case you weren’t originally impressed enough by the breadth and sheer power of my cleaning accomplishment

And in the end, I got an incredibly clean bathroom, which makes a surprisingly huge difference when the bathroom is designed as such to pretty much be constantly wet everywhere. The sink is a drain in the corner of the room next to the squat toilet. So water has to go everywhere. I also never really thought about before now how western bathrooms are designed to have all these separate receptacles to keep it a “dry bathroom,” as an Indonesian coworker of mine put it. If the person before doesn’t leave every surface freshly splashed with water (this also includes a western style toilet, so it’s a nice wet bottom for the next sitter), it’s not considered clean.

It’s not even my favorite color.

I also cleaned the little screened window we have near the top; turns out the screen is a pretty green color and not black.  Now in the morning, light can actually streak through and gleam off the clean tile, and it is so pleasant while teeth brushing. Oh, I had sacrificed my toothbrush for some super corner cleaning, and when I got back with my new toothbrush I realized that I had unwittingly created a strange collection of extremely bright green toiletries.

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