Sabbatical in Indonesia
I recently returned from a year sabbatical in Eastern Indonesia. It was extremely hot and the local tradition is for women to be modestly dressed with clothing covering knees and upper arms. I had been to Indonesia before and knew that it was difficult to negotiate roadside bathroom stops in pants and so I bought two of your skirts and took them with me. I wore one or the other everyday and some days I wore one in the morning and one in the evening. They dried so fast I never had trouble with this limited wardrobe.
After about a month I found that I never used the pants feature, the elastic waist band was too tight and the length was longer than the minimum considered modest enough in this part of the world. I took the skirts to a tailor who removed the elastic and gave me a drawstring waist. I could then wear the skirt very low on my hips and then, a few hours later I could wear the skirt higher and thus avoid the prickly heat of the tropics caused by waist bands. Next the tailor cut the skirts and hemmed them just below my knee. My skirt was the fashionable length for women in this part of Indonesia. School teachers, wives, teenagers, civil servants would never dare to wear skirts or shorts cut above the knee, but calf or ankle length was considered old fashioned. I found that I could squat, sit and lie down with no flash of panties. I could also use the Indonesian toilets without fear of draping my skirt into the water or worse on the floor. For the rest of the year I had the perfect cool, modest and fashionable skirt!
Most of the time, I never really thought much about my skirt, life goes on, but occasionally I was forced to improvise. I thought you might be amused to hear a few of the novel uses I tried. Women swimming in the beautiful cool blue ocean was frowned upon by the muslim ladies who opened their hearts and homes to us. Bikinis were considered scandalous and were a cause for the entire teenage male population of the village to rush to the beach for a good look! After watching litle girls bathe in the ocean wearing dresses I decided to swim wearing a bikini, a surfers rash guard and my skirt. I was relieved to learn that the locals thought it strange that I would want to swim but they thought my "bathing suit" was perfectly acceptable. I wore my skirt in the early evening at the village as well. Large numbers of fully dressed people wash themselves communally and modestly. If I wasn't big and white and a foreigner, I would have fit right in! To change, I simply pulled a clean skirt over my wet one and then pulled the wet one off (impossible in pants). I paddled a sea kayak, made numerous surf landings in dugout sailing canoes, hiked, went to weddings, walked to the markets, gardens, villages and ceremonies. I picked berries and hauled everything from flashlights to snorkel gear in the pockets. I took the overloaded wooden ferry boat and slept on the deck curled around others like a puppy. I road a motorbike, spent a week in the hospital with Malaria, went to official Government offices and rode all kinds of public transport. Never once did I feel underdressed or uncomfortable in my skirt! I think it's very important to dress appropriately so as not to offend anyone. I could have happily been a little cooler in a bathing suit top and a pair of short shorts, but I would have had a very different experience with the local people.
I also want to mention the fact that the skirts, a green one and a charcoal one, both weathered the trip very well. They both faded slightly, but the stitching never came apart, considering the number of times I had to pick burrs from the hem and the number of times the "washing machine" was a rock and a bucket, I think the fabric lasted very well. When it was time to go home I gave some clothes away, I brought the skirts home with me though, I will be returning to Indonesia soon and it's good to have clothes that don't look too new. It might be interesting to give a skirt to one of the village women and then come back in a few years to see if it's still wearable!
I live in Alaska and it just occurred to me to try my skirt over my ski tights!
Thanks for a great skirt!