Living in Sumba
It’s been some time since we’d moved to Waingapu City on Sumba Island and I love it with all its challenges.
The first thing I had to get used to, was the reaction of the locals, to the whiteness of our skin. Don’t get me wrong, we don’t look like corps… Back home nobody would take notice of us, because we blend in, unlike here. Having a baby makes it very easy to make friends, but our afternoon strolls become a march down the streets with all the kids from the neighborhood expressing love towards my little one and following us around and shouting their heads off. Every English word they’ve ever heard, they will recite in chorus, no matter what they mean.
I found it very difficult to deal with their lack of understanding boundaries… A complete stranger would run up to us and pick up my, then 11 months old child from the pushchair and run off with her, to show off to some friends standing in close proximity. I must admit, I have a problem with setting boundaries, but I had to overcome this weakness, because there was no way I could put up with this on the long run. Children keep pinching Amidala’s face with their grubby unwashed hands. I’m not just assuming they are unwashed, I know! I’ve seen kids cuddling chicken and patting dogs, then run up to us and head straight to pinching Amidala’s cheek or holding her hand…
* If you are coming to Sumba with a baby or toddler, my advice is to try nursing for as long as possible for a strong immune system.
I know myself as a patient person, but when I loose it, I loose it big time. Even I get scared of myself… I knew it wasn’t wise to wait until it happens, so before each outing, I calmed myself down and decided on what I was going to tell the enthusiastic ladies on the way to the market for example, who always remove my child from the pushchair without asking for my permission.
I told them that she is not allowed out of the pushchair and explained that Amidala doesn’t like to sit back into the pushchair once removed. – they didn’t care much…
I actually stopped taking her out for walks the day I had to hurt someone. Yes, I lost it in the end…
Amidala was sitting in her pram, wearing a light summer dress… her chubby tights exposed. This strange lady walks up to her and starts slapping my baby’s tights. I could tell by the sound of each impact that she was hitting harder than pleasant. I told her to stop, but she didn’t take notice and continued on enthusiastically. My mind went bonkers and I slapped the woman over her knees while shouting like a lioness:
I’VE SAID STOP IT!!
I looked at the shocked faces around me, then saw everyone disappear in no time at all.
Well, that was our last walk together. Since then I have a helper around the house who takes Amidala out for walks. I’ve also taught Amidala to set her own boundaries. When someone approaches her with the intention of touching her, she would hold up her little palm and say: “Tidak boleh pegang. Lihat saja!” which translates to: “No touching, only looking!”