Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Met the Ambassador today

The US Ambassador to Indonesia, Joseph R. Donovan Jr., came to Bali for the first time, at least as ambassador, and met with US expats this afternoon for a couple of hours. Career in State Dept. jobs in North and Southeast Asia. His Taiwanese wife was here too. He talked for a while then took questions. Was funny, informal, and informative. He's an Obama appointee who just started a few months ago. Here's an official gov page for him. He looks different from his picture, better, has lost weight, and had a floral batik shirt on, no tie. We didn't see one tie in the room of about 100 people. Hey - found a photo online with him in that same shirt.

Katrinka and I met our friend Alice in the lobby of the Sanur Paridise Plaza Hotel which is conveniently located on our block, a big block, on the opposite side corner, Lovely fifteen tree lined minute walk and not on a public street. We had RSVP'd and showed picture ID, got scanned by nice security. Got some tea and excellent h'orsd'oevres which passed for lunch.

Lot of questions from people worried about US Indonesian relations with the new administration. He was reassuring, said that of the forty Muslim majority nations, only six were targeted for the ban. He reviewed a lot of people exchanges that happen now - like nine thousand students from here in the US and fewer but many vice versa, lots of business, and travel. The most difficult questions for him and after he'd left for the consular staff who carried on another forty minutes were about visa situations from couples with mixed marriages asking about getting the spouse and kids in to the States and so forth. I knew marriage did not give the non US citizen a free pass from seeing Andrew Atkeison spend six months and a lot of lawyer money to get his Mexican wife back in California after they'd visited her home in Guadalajara. One guy was an American citizen with an Indonesian wife and he'd never been to the US. Both his parents were US citizens so that meant he was too for good. There were also questions about frustrations with Indonesian bureaucracy, mainly visa oriented. A few people asked him and the consul general later climate and pollution related questions as if there were something that they could do when the president of Indonesia can hardly do anything that goes against "development" (read burning the rain forests down for a few rich people and corporations) The most interesting thing to me was the number of questions and comments showing great concern about crime and violence - in the US, not here. A good afternoon. Katrinka and I met him too before he headed off to an international meeting on illegal fishing. She had to leave soon after he did. I was the last person to leave. Nice walk home. - dc 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Rain here and there

When it rains an excesive amount in one place, I suppose it rains less in others. I read about droughts and water shortages but here in Bali and on the west coast of the US where we come from, there's been a ton of rain. The most in ten years here I heard today. A year ago I was reading about the water table drying up. We've had flooding in front of our porch off and on for months - nothing serious, it's fun to walk around it as well we can or through it - and to watch it rise and almost get onto the porch more than some small puddles. But there have been landslides, one which killed seven people. Just read about slides in the Seattle area today. I never get tired of rain though. I get a cozy feeling from it. I love sitting on the porch and working in a thunderstorm. I like it before and after. Walking in the clean air. I imagine in a former life I lived in a desert and died of thirst. - dc