The year is 1978. Martha Schaefer left the U.S. to join her husband of one year in the oilfields of Trinidad. Over the next four years they followed his career to Jakarta, Indonesia. Armed with a pen, journal, camera and lots of air mail stationary; Schaefer chronicled life as an American ex-patriot. There was no email, no Internet, in fact, seldom telecommunications of any sort.
She found herself surrounded by relative luxury in the corporate life, juxtaposed to the poverty and indigence of the culture outside her walls and fences. Emotionally challenged by the experience, she sought to capture it all in words and photos.
Back in the States, Schaefer’s 40-something mother was grappling with life as a single parent to three grown children. Her letters show the economic struggles and political atmosphere of the “Reaganomics” years. Mother and daughter shared an intense bond in the daily letters they exchanged.
From embassy parties to solo trips by train across Java, Schaefer weaves an intimate tale of a life that seems so perfect. Behind the scenes she is struggling to find purpose in her life and balance in her marriage.
Through Schafer’s words and lens we glimpse a world outside of America seldom seen by tourists. Her joy at finally landing a job at the race track in San Fernando, Trinidad (as the only female caucasian) after the terror of a rape months earlier is raw, powerful and inspiring.
Once settled in Jakarta, Schaefer set out to build a creative life. She joined forces with several local artists and formed the first Indonesian stock photography agency. This lead to a stint with the U.S. television show, YOU ASKED FOR IT.
Wise, funny, and poignant, this début memoir resonates with a voice from the not so distant past.