What’s In a Name?

 

IMG_1578Longing for a place you’ve never been… A little different than wanderlust. That is Fernweh. There is, of course a bit of tongue in cheek irony to it as well. But more on that later… For as long as I can remember, I wanted to travel the world. I’m not sure when it was put in me, but I have suffered from wanderlust for a long time. A bit of a restless spirit jammed into a melancholic soul topped off with a slight chip on the shoulder and you get, Me.

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So, plagued by this wandering… and maybe it’s also a grass is greener, or maybe even a bit of geographical cure for self… Whichever, it has been with me for a long time. It is a relentless drive to see more. To be more, to attach the seeing to a sort of self worth onto the places I’ve been. It’s not to be a travel snob, it’s something more than that. As have little interest in name dropping or place dropping. It’s more subliminal than that and yet more visceral. It would be easy to explain were it not for the incredible pull that exerts itself on my life and has, in some cases, been a point of contention with family. Now, how does that get to Fernweh you may be thinking?

IMG_2657Well, now think of the wanderlust but think about a place you want to be in a year. Imagine the desire to have a place that was sort of a banyan. A place of steady seasons, of lightning bugs and frogs. Of cows and birds. Bees visiting the clover patch. A blue sky dotted with the cumulus clouds that later in the day play the rumbling sounds of the Gods at War… And somewhere, before sunset, you hear “Daaaaad, come see!” just before it fades into the wind. And when you face the call you see a son hunched over peering intently into a crawfish mound… This is my Fernweh.

IMG_0987 (1)But how does one come up wth that? I had never heard it until Allison spoke it to me coming on six months ago. We were trying to come up with a name. A name that fit where we are and where we want to be. Of who we have become and honoring our roots.

 

We had tried a number of different ideas, from Irish towns to words and phrases from the lands we have travelled to. All of them IMG_2414have an appeal, and some even would have probably been better. But for some reason, when this word was defined, it encompassed Us. It is us. We all, from Allison down to Andrew have a bit of Fernweh. And the beauty is that it sparks the imagination and lights the path back home. It is drive and its acceptance.

IMG_3680But to be honest, I’m not the one who came up with it, so that story will have to be told by Allison. I can only tell you whats in the name- Fernweh.

A Little on Jakarta

 

View from my office
View from my office

Jakarta Indonesia is a fascinating place. It is a contradiction. It’s a dump. It’s a jewel. It’s full of happiness and joy. It also overflows with despair. It is Wealthy wrapped in poverty. It is corruption and Integrity. Poetical license aside, when you cram

IMG_4377 31 million people into a 1200 square mile area you are bound to get the sort of contradictions I speak of. By comparison, the nearest urban area in the US would be the New York Urban are which comprises New York, New Jersey and Connecticut in a 4500 square mile are with 10 MILLION FEWER PEOPLE.

So, with the demographic lesson out of the way, what’s it like to live here? Well, it’s a contradiction… It’s wonderful and awful by turns. You have every convenience of any major city in the US, well except the convenience of clean tap water. Oh, and then there is the healthcare, which is better than say an active war zone but is substandard by any other measure. However, you can purchase aIMG_4347 Ferrari, Lamborghini or McClaren… You know, because it is infinitely better to have a supercar than it is to be able to stop the rampant spread of Dysentery or Dengue fever. This is not to judge the political system, or the government, or most especially the people of Indonesia, it is to give a glimpse of the contradiction. Which makes living here challenging. You see the potential this country has and it leaves you wondering if they will reach it.