Our area of Indonesia is in the middle of its rainy season, which in Jakarta usually means a regular afternoon thunderstorm. The last couple weeks, however, the storms have been more frequent and lasting longer. On Thursday, (January 16) a torrential rain started around 9pm and didn’t let up until the morning. This was enough to cause the already swollen canals that grid Jakarta to overflow and quickly fill the streets. The entire city, one of the biggest metropolitan areas in the world, is now covered in water.
Our apartment complex, Paladian Park, consists of five high rises with a center common area called the Club House. Although one of the bigger canals in our area is just across the street, Paladian Park sits on a small mound and has not been flooded (yet). Just outside the gate where our street used to be, however, is a standing slow-moving river of water with a depth ranging from my mid-calf to just above my knees.
School was cancelled for Friday, and we spent the day by the pool with our fellow teachers enjoying the day off. Yesterday, the real crisis of the natural disaster occurred- we ran out of milk and peanut butter at home. So, partner in crime Adrian and I decided to experience the full effect of the Jakarta floods by wading a mile or so up the street to Mall Kelapa Gading, an enormous shopping plaza, hoping to get a bite to eat and find a few essentials. The water was swirly brown, infested with litter, and moving with the wake of cars, trucks and the ever-present motorcycle. We had a great time- and the mall was mostly open so we were able to eat lamb kebabs and get our shopping done. Everyone there, including us, had soaked pants from the knees down.
The Indonesians are taking this mostly in stride partly because they had gone through the same thing last year and partly because Indonesians are forever friendly and positive. That attitude might not hold out for long, and there doesn’t seem to be an end soon. School is already closed for tomorrow and Tuesday, and Wednesday they are expecting “critical weather” with torrential downpours.