I seem to have a long queue of unpublished blog posts lined up in my drafts folder at various stages of completion. There’s one about monkeys. There’s a lengthy and potentially entertaining post about having a pembantu (maid) in progress. There’s one that begins to address the dreaded question ‘What do you do all day?’. There’s another one about our last trip back to the various places we call ‘home’ in Australia. Random words, half finished sentences and poorly formed paragraphs. I intend to get onto it and start hitting ‘publish’ on some of these posts, but for now I’m just going to start somewhere. It’s not at the beginning, and as much as that irritates the perfectionist within, I know that if I don’t make some sort of start, updating this blog will become less and less of a priority. Since we returned from Christmas holidays in Australia back to to life in Sumbawa, we’ve been busy catching up with everyone here, and settling back in for another year on ‘The Rock’. That’s right, it’s already been a year! Yesterday our ID badges officially expired and that means it’s exactly 12 months since we first arrived with our lives squashed into the suitcases we towed behind us, and checked in for this adventure. We’ve been to meet with Mr Immigrations down at the port today, to get our fingerprinting re-done, (you know – just incase our fingerprints have changed in the last year), and we’ve handed in our passports for processing again. I’m expecting a lot of knocks on the door in the coming days as my house is inundated by people checking the fire alarms, air conditioners, electrical appliances and whatever else a testing tag can be found on. This time last year, everything was so different. Actually, when I really think about it – it wasn’t that everything was so different – it just felt so different. It was all new, foreign, uncomfortable, and often awkward. There are still plenty of awkward moments, but we’ve relaxed into our lives here a lot. Malaria is no longer the only thing on my mind when I step outside after dark. I now accept that the filtered water in our house really is for drinking. The monkeys still intimidate me, but I’ve learned that it’s quite acceptable to carry around a handful of rocks, a stick or even a taser, to fend off any aggressive advances. The language barrier isn’t quite as impossible. Just this morning we had a full phone conversation in Indonesian. It wasn’t about the inner workings of a cochlear implant or anything, and I still got some numbers severely mixed up, but it’s coming together. We’ve met some amazing people. Perhaps the most valuable addition to my life here in the jungle, has been the friendships I’ve made with the other women who’ve also had to adapt to this lifestyle. We share the same struggles and frustrations. We don’t ask each other what we do all day, because we get it. We understand that not being able to duck down to a supermarket means that so many hours of our days are spent in the kitchen. We talk about food a lot. It’s happening right now. As I write, coconut chicken curries are being discussed in a group Facebook chat window in the background. We all get excited about fresh herbs. Or fresh anything in general really. We have an alert system should there suddenly be fresh broccoli discovered close by. We workout together, we swap stories, we share our resources and we laugh at ourselves. This support network makes life here much more liveable. It’s been a huge year of new challenges, adventures, and experiences. It has expanded our hearts and given us a fresh perspective. There have been tsunami sirens, geckos, monkeys, reptiles, numerous calls to prayer, sunsets, goats, donkeys, dogs, jungle treks, snake encounters, rain, rice paddies, underwater adventures, golf games and handstands. There were airports, travel days, nervous luggage check-ins, lost bags, language barriers, scenic flights, traffic chaos, near misses, and no-shows. The spectrum of emotions experienced here has been wider than ever before, ranging from heart pounding highs to the lowest of lows and everything in between. There have been colours woven into our lives that only these kind of experiences can weave. I’ve loved it and hated it, all at the same time. Without a doubt though, I’ve had the best year of my life and I’m looking forward to round two!