Excavating Under Semeru’s Shadow

Many years ago Java was flat. Barren, vacant, and seizing with earthquakes, the island floated freely in the Indian Ocean. That is, until the gods desired to fill Java with people. Shiva ordered Brahma and Vishnu to settle Java. Watching the island tumble and shake they decided to secure the island first. Together the gods nailed Java down using a piece of Mt. Mahameru–the center of the universe–borrowed from India. Java became still and the gods were pleased.

The gods had placed Mt. Mahameru on western Java out of convenience. Shiva approved until he noticed the island began to sink. With the west underwater and the east tilted up, Brahma and Vishnu returned to finish their task. They dragged Mt. Mahameru across Java scattering bits of the volcano along their path until they reached the east and the island balanced perfectly. Shiva was so pleased he made Mt. Mahameru his home. Today we know Mt. Mahameru as Mt. Semeru, Java’s tallest mountain and active volcano.

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Welcome to our Keluarga Besar

This post is dedicated to the newest addition to the extended Peace Corps Indonesia family, our keluarga besar. Today you took your oaths. For the next two years you will not know what each day may bring but remember you are not alone. You will do great things and we (ID6) cannot wait to see how far you will go.

Memperbaiki Dunia: Earth Day 2013

April 22, 2013 started much like any other Monday for most of us in Lumajang. The local mosque came alive with prayer, the sun rose, and the roosters crooned “ku kuru kuru kuuu…” School was unexceptional down to the final bomb-siren “bell” blaring at 2:00 pm. At least that’s the norm here. And like clockwork students filed into English Club. “What’s our lesson today, Mr. Matt?” Asked one. “Today is Earth Day.” I replied. “And you all will decide what we will do to celebrate.”

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Not Your Ibu’s Garden Planter


You may remember my last experiment, the vertical garden. It was inspired by the piles of plastic that never seem to disperse at school. Well I’m back to tell you the tomato plants are big, green, and happy. I also have a new prototype, the self-watering planter, and I’m here to show you how to make your own!

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Just “Thailand!” because there are too many adjectives and I’m limiting myself to a single sensible exclamation mark.

What IS this place?! Clean streets, friendly people, diverse foods, iced coffee on every corner — and we’re barely scratching the surface. This is the Kingdom of Thailand.

I imagine it would take a lifetime to fully appreciate all that Thailand has to offer. We had a week. Join Drew, Britteney, and me as we navigate the bustle of Bangkok before going north to hang out with elephants in Chiang Mai. From Buddhist temples, to Pad Thai, morning markets, and the smell of jasmine in the spring air, every moment was a treat.