Tuesday, June 15, 2010


This is a view of the sun setting over my backyard in Gorontalo:

It’s beautiful, right? It’s the kind of view that makes you think, “My God, I’m so lucky to live here.” It’s the kind of view that inspires people to build large glass windows and wooden decks perfect for a late afternoon cocktail, right? Well, not in Gorontalo. For reasons that are completely unfathomable to me, NOT ONE SINGLE HOUSE in my little row of houses next to this rice field has windows that look out onto this magnificent view. Instead, we have this:

This is the back of my house. Those little tiny windows you see are ventilation windows in the bathrooms and the kitchen. They’re up near the ceiling and the only way you’d see something out of them is if you stood on a chair or on the kitchen counter. In my bedroom, if I had an appropriately placed window instead of this WALL, I’d be able to just sit back in bed and watch these spectacular sunsets unfold as if on a giant movie screen. Instead, my bedroom window looks out on to the neighbor’s house about a meter away. Who designed this housing complex?! Why on earth would they think people would rather stare at their neighbor’s wall than at a beautiful sunset?

And don’t even get me started on the fact that I didn’t even discover these beautiful sunsets in my backyard until two months ago. Before that, the little alleyway between my house and my neighbor’s had been so chock full of garbage and random building supplies that I didn’t even have direct access to the back of my house. And then one day all of that just mysteriously disappeared. And I was left gaping with astonishment at this absolutely stunning sunset.

This incident can also be seen as a metaphor for my entire stay in Gorontalo. When I first arrived, I saw the obstacles; I smelled the burning garbage and I longed for things I didn’t have like fast internet, hot showers and a decent place to get pizza. And now things are different. Now I see the sunsets.


  1. This contrast reminds me strikingly of your home state. On one side you have the Pine Barrens. On the other, you have one of the most complicated and busiest turnpike systems in the country. Oh well. I guess we find natural beauty where we can.

  2. Fascinating! I really wonder why the views are blocked.... And I love the symbolism of your post. :-)