Would you like some ants in your curry, ma’am?

I just picked up a piece of popcorn that fell on the bed last night and ate it.This probably means that I’m a disgusting pig but it also got me thinking about all the other disgusting food incidents that happened the last few years while living abroad.

Delicious ant-free Thai breakfast rice on a beach on Koh Lanta.

Delicious ant-free Thai breakfast rice on a beach on Koh Lanta.

We used to get two meals a day in the divecentre I worked for, brought over from the local village. they were packs of rice and fish or chicken curry wrapped in paper. Very tasty, unless it was your lucky day and you got the curry with chickenfeet. Or chickenneck, which is basically a string of crunchy bones with very little meat. Ugh.

Once, a gecko fell onto my plate. It was probably sitting on the ceiling of the restaurant, eyeballing the flies that were everywhere when it suddenly found itself running around in my fried noodles. Oops. 

The gecko was fine. The noodles too. Nom.

In the same restaurant, which was/is my favorite restaurant, I ordered my trusty comfy-food staple vegetable curry with rice. It was delicious as always, untill I noticed ants floating around between the carrots and babycorn. Dozens of them. I was so HUNGRY and couldn’t have waited for a new order so a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do, and sometimes that’s eating ant curry.

(The restaurant, by the way, is Barracuda on Gapang Beach, Pulau Weh, Indonesia. If you’re there go check it out. I’m not sure if this piece is good advertisement, but the owners are the best and their food is fantastic. Even with ants. I love you guys!)

By the way, I just went to get a sugarcane juice from the fancy juicebar that opened recently across the border, and got served by a very sweet guy who was wearing a hairnet and gloves. Very hygienic, except that he had a wild beard that reached his nipples. Don’t get me wrong, I love beards, but it led me to google “hairnets for beards”, which would make ordering a juice so much more terrifying.

I’m not particularly brave when it comes to ordering strange foods, so I happily let the fertilized eggs or fried scorpions on a stick pass. I think ant curry is my limit. What strange expected or unexpected things have you eaten on your travels?

 

HOT HOT HOT: Tips for diving in hot climates

Looks like we’ve survived the summer.

It is September now and we’ve had a couple of months of hot, hot, hot, sticky hot weather and humidity, but we survived.

Temperatures haven’t really dropped yet, it’s still 36-38 degrees during the day, although less humid so it feels less suffocating but at the same time it feels like the sun is burning stronger. Water temperatures are up to 28-30 degrees although there can be a sneaky 25 degree thermocline on deeper dives.

Summer was not as bad as I thought it would be and it is amazing how fast your body gets used to the heat and humidity. In the beginning it felt gross to be sweaty and sticky all the time but now it’s just the way it is. Let’s just say that sweat is the new black and nothing beats the feeling of buttsweat rolling down your thighs.

Eeeew.

To illustrate how hot it is: A carefully conducted scientific experiment reveals that our laundry dries faster out in the sun than in the drying machine.

At one point our pool was 37 degrees because the cooling system was broken and the tarp that shades it got blown off in a storm so there was no relief to be found there either. Do you sometimes get that queasy feeling when you take a hot bath?* That’s exactly what happens when you try to do a confined water session in a 37 degree pool. Not cool. (see what I did there?)

The best place to be is generally either in the airconditioned office (but who wants to be in the office all day?) or out on the boat, but being out under the sun the whole day brings it’s own set of challenges – so here’s some tips for when you are diving in very, very hot weather.

Diveboat

Tips for diving in hot weather

 

- WATER. DRINK IT. I don’t really have to explain this one, do I? Water hydrates. Water is good for you. Being properly hydrated also decreases your risk of getting decompression sickness, so extra important when you are diving.

- Wetsuit last. Seriously, make sure all your other gear is set up and working properly before you put your wetsuit on, and put your wetsuit and gear on at the same time as your buddy. Nothing beats semi-suffocating in your full 3mm suit, already sitting in your divegear, while your buddy realizes he has a leaking o-ring and needs to change it.

- While putting said suit on, especially for you crazy people who still like to dive in 5mm’s, put your wetsuit on to waistlevel and then jump in the water to put on the rest. It will make you feel much, much better.

- Gear up in the water if you have to (and if conditions allow). Saves hauling your gear around on a rocking boat under the sun. Remember: Mask & fins first, then your BCD, and then your weightbelt. Don’t forget to do a buddycheck at the surface.

- Sunblock/lotion. Use it. Your mother will be proud and your skin will thank you later.

 

*Caused by a drop in blood pressure because your arteries and veins dilate to assist in cooling your body

Living abroad is really hard sometimes

I have been living abroad off and on for the past three years now. I have been back in The Netherlands, but never more than a few months in a row and those months were more like a holiday / being-between-jobs (in the best possible sense of the word) than living there, if you know what I mean.

You’d think I would have gotten the hang of it by now, but I struggle more than ever.

Living in Oman has been a huge test for my patience, which was never really my thing to start with (ask my mom) and sometimes I feel like I’m slowly losing it.

I don’t understand how things are run here. I am tired of hearing “next week, Inshallah” as an answer to the question when our work visas are going to be ready. We have been hearing “next week, Inshallah” for the past five months.

Tomorrow, Inshallah

I also try really hard to be culturally understanding and not to extrapolate one frustration to the general population.

I don’t understand how it is better to tell someone an un-truth (lying seems such a harsh word, but that’s what it is) rather than answer a question honestly, because we all know that it won’t be next week and definitely that it is not up to whatever higher power, but up to you doing the job that you’re paid for.

Even something as simple as renting a car can take up half a day to arrange. “I have a car, maybe, I call you back in ten minutes” means: You will have to chase me for the rest of the day and I won’t answer my phone until you have tried at least ten times, six hours later.

And I nod and smile and hope that it will be all sorted, and then when I hear it won’t be until another two weeks because suddenly the rules changed I lose my shit and go nuts which is not like me at all.

It makes me very cynical. Maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be: that you hear “maybe tomorrow” and you assume it is a no and shrug and find someone else to do the job (if possible at all). Maybe that just really means ‘no’ and I’m only getting it now? Just a bit late to the never-give-a-straight-answer party? But all this cynicism and frustration makes me into a person that I don’t really want to be. Time to let go – but how?

 

 

 

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