A Story About Cottage Cheese

Mark and I like cottage cheese. Is that weird? I actually got hooked on it recently, slowly, and reluctantly. Wanting something for breakfast that would keep me full longer and not wanting to eat eggs every day, cottage cheese came to mind. Now, I don’t love the stuff, but I enjoy it enough with some yogurt and fruit added and it is a super satisfying breakfast after my workout.

So, now we’re getting settled into our new home and haven’t found cottage cheese at any of the usual grocery stores. So I check out some of the specialty stores, the ones Westerners are supposed to like, with the expensive Western food. I try Hero, Hypermart, Ranch Market and finally Kem Chicks. This last one has a whole walk-in cooler with great cheeses, like gouda, gruyere, mascarpone, parmesan, ricotta, and bocconcini. But. no. cottage. cheese. I have now tried four different stores, all within walking or Bajai distance.

After mentioning it in conversation, someone suggests using the Go-Jek app. You can search for an item and they will show you where you can get it. Genius! Using my app, I found one store about 6km away. Now, by North American Standards, 6km is not far. But here, in Jakarta, it’s a 25 minute drive. But this app, it lets you order the item and have it delivered, for about $1.20! Why not?! It would cost me more than that just to get to the store. Of course, I’m going to ‘Go-Jek’ my cottage cheese!


Sitting in our apartment at 8pm, I finally have a chance to sit down and figure this all out. I’d like to be in bed by 9pm, so I have an hour to get this thing delivered, lots of time. 8:04pm my order is placed, a driver is found. Then I get a phone call…and can’t understand a thing. I say ‘English please’, hear a few more words and the man hangs up. Then I get a message saying my driver could not complete the order. A few minutes later I get another phone call. The same thing happens. Man calls, I can’t understand him, ‘English please,’ hung up on, driver can’t complete order. A few minutes later I get a third phone call. Man calls, I can’t understand him, ‘English please’, ‘Oh, English, yes.” Yay! He speaks English. I think he’s confirming what I ordered. He hangs up. About 10 minutes later I get another phone call. I believe he’s telling me they only have one item, 200mL. I had ordered 2, but any will do thank you. I tell him one is ok, please get it.

Using my app, I can see that he is on his way to my place. By 9:15pm the doorbell rings and the security guard has brought my delivery man to my door. He hands me the bag and tells me, he was told this was the same thing. I receive the bag, pull out the small container and discover in my hands a 125g container of plain yogurt. ‘They told me same thing, no salt’ he says. Poor guy has no idea what cottage cheese is and thinks he’s got me what I wanted. ‘This isn’t the same thing’ I tell him and he offers to refund my purchase (I think) of a whole $2.50, including his delivery charge. Well, this isn’t what I ordered, but I can use plain yogurt…but it’s warm now, so maybe I won’t use it.


We laugh to ourselves. My first Go-Jek order hasn’t turned out the way I had hoped, but I’m learning to laugh at these things and try again. I’m learning to expect the difficult and celebrate the successes. We were warned that things here are more difficult, nothing is easy and everything takes longer. Sure, of course, I get it. We’ll pack our patience along in our suitcases. But it’s not until you’ve experienced it again, and again, and again, that it really sinks in. I actually told Mark that people should have told us that things would be this difficult. They did, he reminded me. They did. They tried. Now I know.

It can be frustrating to not be able to jump in my car and drive to where I want to go, know where what I want is, get what I want and come home. But this is not Niagara and the world is not all the same. This is what millions of people know as normal, and eventually, it will be normal for us as well.

Perhaps I have another adventure to the Farmer’s Market in my future. Depends on how much we want our cottage cheese.

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