This year I had four ETAs – Sarah and Alexa in Limboto and Anna and Erika in Manado. All four of them are amazing young women and we’ve had many good times together. I can’t believe they’re gone! They’ve left Sulawesi for bigger and better things while I’m still here wrapping up the school year (and catching up on my blogging!). So, I just wanted to write a post to all of them as a tribute and to thank them for being so awesome and for turning into such great friends.
I will never forget one particular night early in the year when Anna and Erika had driven down from Manado for the weekend. Alexa, unfortunately, was sick but Sarah, Anna, Erika and I went out on the town to do a little Gorontalo sightseeing and shopping. We also wanted to get Alexa something to cheer her up. And you know what we ended up getting? HOUSE DRESSES! Many women in Sulawesi go about their daily activities wearing these house dresses and although they may not exactly be fashion statements, they are extremely comfortable and suitable for the hot weather here. So we each selected one for ourselves and then picked out one for Alexa. When we got back to Sarah and Alexa’s house that evening we excitedly changed into our new house dresses to surprise Alexa when she got up from her nap. She looked at us puzzled, “Whaaa??” And then we unveiled her present! We twirled around the house in our new house dresses and then settled in for the night. The power went out so we spent the rest of the night playing Apples to Apples by light of the emergency lantern, eating manggis (mangosteen in English) and sitting around in our house dresses.
Besides being all around fun people to hang out with, three of my ETAs are also divers! Anna got certified last summer before moving to Indonesia, just like me. Sarah and Alexa got certified in March and, as you know, we’ve spent the past few months doing as much diving as possible. All four of us share great memories of diving together in Gorontalo and the Togean Islands. At the end of May after the dive season in Gorontalo had ended, I traveled up to Manado for a final weekend of diving with Anna. On the boat on the way out to Bunaken we were treated to the most fabulous display of leaping bottlenose dolphins. Good times.
Overall, I saw Sarah and Alexa a lot more than I did Anna or Erika because they lived nearby. We ate out in town, went to the salon to get our hair and nails done and texted often. We also shared many fun dinners at their place in Limboto and mine in ‘Kota’; I’ll always remember the night we made peanut butter cookies in my toaster oven with a mix that I got in a care package. Alexa even described me once in her blog as their big sister, mentor and best friend. I can’t even explain how much that sentiment moved me. I miss and love you guys!! Gorontalo isn’t the same without you.
With Alexa and Sarah at Bolihutuo Beach, Gorontalo