Cilacap- First Impressions

I must admit, driving into the city of Cilacap from the airport, I was not very impressed. There were no sidewalks, and little huts along the side of the road. Kids were playing really close to the street and I did not see one grocery store from the airport to the hotel. Fortunately, Cilacap is growing on me as I explore and interact with different people and places. There are in fact sidewalks in the “downtown” area- but they are at least 8 inches off the ground, and the curb cuts are at 45 degree angles so it is difficult to walk- especially with a stroller. I end up on the road most of the time. 

Tower of the big mosque in the middle of town
First things first. We were essentially left at the airport, so our mood was not the greatest. Then we got to the hotel. Austin had requested an “Executive” level room on the 2nd floor. They put us in a 1st floor tiny room that was not executive. It had an exterior entry and 2 doors to the outside- with 1cm gaps between the bottom of the door and the ground. And mosquitoes. It was one of the furthest rooms from the lobby, and Austin did not like it that we were opening to the outside and Landon and I would be by ourselves the majority of the time. Anyway, we started getting picky. Austin went back down and asked for a 2nd floor room. This room was twice as big, no big gaps under the door, and interior entry in the same building as reception. Much better. Our hotel is purported as one of the nicest in Cilacap, and from what I’ve seen, that is not really saying a lot, but it is ok. Water temperature and pressure for showering is not great, but I think it might be an infrastructure issue and not the hotel’s fault. Tomorrow we get to move to a suite because one of Austin’s coworkers is leaving- his work is all done. Woohoo!
The hotel and the whole town seems to have a good grasp of how to handle natural disasters. There are exit signs everywhere, flashlights in our rooms, and “meeting areas” so that they can do headcounts. There are also signs like this one below everywhere, telling you which way to run from the tsunamis! How comforting!
Back to Cilacap. The day we arrived, I needed to find bottled water. The water is not safe to drink here, and I drink much more than 1 liter/day, so I needed to get a bunch of liter bottles for Landon and I to enjoy. I looked it up on a map that there should be a convenience store just down the street from our hotel. Turns out, it was closed/ in an unmarked building, so we missed it. We continued walking and ended up walking at least 3x longer than we needed to in retrospect to find the convenience store we needed. There are 7-11 style stores everywhere here- either Alfamart or Indomaret. They have milk boxes and water and my favorite- popsicles! As well as crackers and other snacky items for Landon. At first, I was disappointed the store was so far away, then I realized there were a few convenience stores very close to us, and a supermarket just 5 minutes down the road in the other direction, and I felt better.
One thing that is the same in Cilacap and Jakarta is the “pollution” on the street. Although there are far less people and cars, the emission standards are not the same as the US, so walking down the street you inhale a ton of exhaust fumes. I try to pick roads that are less traveled (but still look populated and safe) to walk/run down, but all of those roads hook up to main roads at some point, so it is hard to avoid altogether. We noticed that on our walk the first day here. 
Entrance to Turtle beach- if you drive you have to pay to go in!
I also insisted on finding the beach. There is a famous beach here that people come to see (normally when visiting family, but still). It is called Turtle Beach. We walked over half a mile to reach the beach, and it was pretty to see the waves hitting the black sand. What wasn’t pretty was all the trash accumulated everywhere. Fishermen keep their boats tied up on the beach, and I think they just throw their trash everywhere, along with everyone else here. It is really sad. Landon and I have not gone yet because Austin said the water is also very polluted from the refinery so it is not safe.  What is even more sad is that the turtles that once came to this beach to lay eggs are extinct now because of environmental issues and locals killing them to eat? or for their shell? I’m not sure. I know there is a dead one sitting on a rock in the middle of a fish pond in our hotel. Nearby the beach are lots of seafood restaurants/shacks and tourist shops. There are so many things I want to buy from the shops there (mostly shells and things made out of shells), but I’m waiting until Austin can come with to watch Landon so I can really browse. 
The beach- locals go on it…
So the quest continues for places for Landon to play. We have found a few, but that is my daily mission is to walk in a different direction until I have a fairly good map of the city going and know all of the play spots for Landon. Today I found several soccer fields in other parts of town that are less parched, and have shady spots. Hooray!
Cool old sign
The food is good here, although Landon does not like the slight spiciness of the sauces. They eat a lot of rice and noodle dishes, usually stirfried with some sort of meat and veggies. We were eating at the hotel for convenience, but their kitchen is so slow at getting food to customers (I think we are coming at a weird time because they don’t eat until really late here) but anyway, after a few days of waiting close to an hour for food we have given up and moved on. Except Thursday nights- which is all-you-can-eat BBQ and breakfast, which is served each morning. I’m grateful that they have some traditional breakfast things- omelets, pancakes or french toast, fruit- as well as rice and chicken dishes. It is just a little to weird to eat so much savory food for breakfast. I guess I’m just not used to
 it!
We go over this canal to get to the beach/harbor. There are similar ones closer to the ocean that are full of water- fishing boats dock there when not in use. 

A little further down Turtle Beach there are more boats, and areas of dirt that aren’t as trashy. Landon played here one day, and we watched boats go in and out as well as saw the big oil tankers! Or as Landon calls them, “Cargo ships!”
Light house by the dirt fields
I am hoping to visit this island across the bay. It has some of the last rainforest in Java, as well as 4 maximum security prisons and cleaner beaches, hooray! 
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