Welcome back to the blog! So I've been meaning to post for while now but ended up taking a little hiatus from the blog because we took a little family vacation to Bali, Indonesia.
(I know feel sorry for me) and then one thing led to another and its been a month since I last posted (Ah! sorry!) Nonetheless, Bali was warm, wonderful, and great-what a perfect segue way into this weeks posting! Indonesia weather!
When making my top ten list about things that make Jakarta, Jakarta (to me) the weather and its effects HAD to be number one because it has been one of the hardest things for me to adjust to. I actually had more to say on this topic than I first realized so I've decided to break this post into two.
In this post I will talk about the seasons, weather, and how those things effect and shape the community here in Jakarta.
In my next post I will talk about dressing appropriately with regards to the weather and the culture here. I'll also explain a little about the Indonesian concept of "masuk angin" but that'll need a post of its own!
So let's dive in!
Jakarta is a mere six degrees south of the equator so if you remember anything from elementary school you know what that means, Jakarta is HOT HOT HOT!
Temps here range from 75 degrees to 91 degrees (24-33) which honestly doesn't seem THAT hot..but lemme tell you, you FEEL IT.
Jakarta has two seasons: Rainy and Dry. So just when you think you can't take anymore of the heat from dry season the rain tends to give you a break... but then the rain clears up all the air pollution, so for the next few hours or the next day the sun shines extra bright and you, once again, get hot.
Are you seeing a theme here?
Rainy season lasts a few months and brings with it some of the loudest thunder I have ever heard- we're talking setting off MULTIPLE car alarms loud! (what?!) Someone once told me a good way to remember when the rainy season months are - is to think of the months with an 'R' in them, basically September to April but this year rainy season didn't begin until November soooo... make what you want with that saying.
So how does the weather effect Jakarta life? Well I'd say in two ways:
Flooding and mosquitos.
First lets talk about flooding or in Indonesian "banjir".
Due to overpopulation and poorly designed road structures flooding occurs in most areas of Jakarta and it is not uncommon for the rain to cause the city to stop and then have to wait until the flooding dies down.
One time, while I was pregnant with my second child, I spotted my neighbor's nanny waiting in the taxi line at our local mall. Since the taxi line was super long and she was up next I asked if I could hitch a ride with her to our neighborhood. She gladly allowed me to join her taxi but as we were driving it started to MONSOON. Unfortunately by the time we made it to our neighborhood we couldn't enter because there was flooding right before the entrance. Seeing the flood, the taxi driver began to turn around but the nanny told the taxi driver that he needed to try to get me home as soon as possible because I was pregnant!
Does this logic make sense to you?
Well this may be another cultural lesson post for another time, but it sure does make sense in Jakarta where waving the pregnancy card can usually get you anything you want- or in this case, to get taxi drivers to try to drive through flooded roads. I say "try" because- surprise surprise- the poor taxi driver tried to drive through and the road ended up being too flooded to pass through so the taxi literally STALLED OUT in the middle of the flooded street. Thankfully the taxi driver maneuvered the taxi to a risen part of the street but we did end up having to wait for the rain and flooding to cease (which took about an hour) until we could safely drive on the road and get home.
So there you have it, rainy season = flooding and a lot of being late and waiting around (even if you are pregnant).
As for the second effect of the weather, let me draw a little diagram for you:
Ya'll the mosquitos here are NEXT LEVEL and that should not come as a surprise considering the heat and water laying around from rainy season...but it doesn't stop me from being surprised and appalled and SO DRAMATIC with every mosquito bite... yes, even three years later... just let me be me!
Also, let's not forget this simple fact:
Mosquitoes love a good pregnant woman -hello 18 months of my life here!
Seriously, even when I am not pregnant I am a mosquito magnet. So you can find me sporting about 2-7 mosquito bites most days and, at one time, having 40 mosquito bites on my body while I was pregnant with Elena. You think I'm exaggerating? Well I'm not. Lets just say the 40 bites occurred in the midst of the frustration stage of culture shock and with every mosquito bite I counted, my indignation towards Jakarta grew and grew! I do not recommend mixing mosquito bite counting with pregnancy hormones but, in this case, it did cause me to invest in a mosquito net for our bedroom our first year here. Yes, this made me a bit of a laughingstock amongst our Indo friends but a bule gotta do what a bule gotta do!
Which is also a good segue way into how Indonesians handle the weather.
For the most part they stay away from the sun.
In Jakarta being "tan" is not fashionable... as in a lot of Asia where white skin is considered beautiful. This is worth taking a closer look into but lets save it for another post and for now lets just say I get crazed looks for walking around in pure daylight because, like most Americans, I prefer a little tan.
One of the things I love most about the effects of the weather is how, in an attempt to beat the heat and effects of the morning sun, Jakarta neighborhoods are BOOMING from 5:30am- 7am, when it is relatively a lot cooler and when a nice breeze can even be felt. During these hours helpers are out sweeping the driveways, peddlers are out selling breakfast from their carts, nannies are out "sunning" babies (because this sunshine is the healthiest- at least that is what they say) and people are out exercising. These early morning hours are the hours in which the city wakes up- but you better hurry if you want to see it because come 8:00am, when the sun begins to shine brightly, everyone heads back inside!
It's easy to miss this little window of the day but if you can get outside it's worth seeing the city come alive and is my absolute favorite.
This also happens, to a lesser extent, around 5:00 each evening. The helpers are back out in the driveways, chatting to each other, sweeping away the leaves and dust accumulated from the day. The peddlers are set up selling snacks and dinner dishes, some even strolling the streets with their carts, tapping a plate with a fork repeatedly (as a bell) to indicate where they are while Nannies and/ or parents are out congregating with their kids attempting to help them get their energy out before bedtime but, come the call of prayer at 6, the once bustling street empties out.
So there you have it, a little sneak peak into the weather and how it effects Jakarta life or at least what I've experienced/observed. Come back next week where I discuss how to dress appropriately and cool in this city... cool as in not sweating all the time- though I do always try to keep my style cool...okay am I trying to do too much with that sentence?
I'll also dive into the Indonesian concept of "masuk angin" and question if it's a real thing. Indonesians swear by it, will you become a believer? Well we'll just have to wait and see.