Sunday, March 22, 2009

Day Three on the River in Kalimantan

The danger of writing about an adventure while you are experiencing it is that things that seem important initially don’t quite hold up after the adventure is over. As an example, the photos of the Orangutans previously cited, afterwards are only slightly better than average. But the Orangutan photos that follow are superior and would have been used instead of the previous ones. Does this make sense?

I will cite another example. When we went into the Krueger game reserve in South Africa, the first thing we saw was a couple of zebra. I can still visualize the event. We were thrilled. Soon however, looking at zebra was about exciting as looking at your shoe laces. There were just so many of them and they aren’t all that exotic looking, really.

The boat’s six additional passengers (3 couples) showed up, stowed their belongings, and came on deck. Later, as we started up the river again they were thrilled to see this or that, which seemed to us almost funny. We didn’t think it was anything worth looking at because it was so commonplace. It reminded me of your zebra experience.

I told the zebra story to Amy (whose name I thought was Annie for a while) and how it applied to what was unfolding as our new passengers were pointing out things. She was greatly amused and later commented how funny the story was to her.

I will always remember however, the first time I saw Orangutans in the wild in the trees along the river. Even though later opportunities were even better, the first impression gets imprinted on some part of my brain that allows vivid color to remain.

Our three couples were UK ex-pats living in Jakarta and knew each other from previous trips together. I turned out that this was a different cultural experience for us as we learned about them as they talked around the breakfast, lunch and dinner table with us interacting with them along the way. They were all in their early 50’s or late 40’s, putting them almost in the generation of our children. The men all came equipped with newer models of my Nixon camera and bigger lens also. At times the 3 women would socialize together while the 3 men would be socializing together at the same time. It is common for sexes to separate like this but seeing it reminded me that I prefer being in the company where both sexes are represented.

Seeing this made me examine why this was my preference. When I was in my 20’s and 30’s at parties, I grew bored with man talk after a while (sports, cars, and other toys) and would sidle over to the women to listen. They were just as boring after awhile (children, husbands and other kin). At least I was interested in sports and could hold my own in discussions. If I moved in closer where the women talked, one of the women would thoughtfully include me in their discussion. And having a male included in the group would always move the level of conversation to different level, which I found I enjoyed more. Men’s discussions also change when women are included, for the better I think.

The ex-pats were quite enjoyable and everyone got along well and after two days of having the boat to ourselves, I was a pleasant change to have company. I had little time to write, however, so this post was written a week after returning from Indonesia.

As we were waiting for our new shipmates to arrive, we were docked by a small group of houses where two brothers played in the water along side their house. They had a great time splashing each other and sliding on some of slick vegetation just below the water’s surface. They were fun to watch and their enthusiasm was energizing.

After a while we had to move the boat however. Laying in the water along side our boat were two dead stinking pythons. They had been captured, skinned, and then thrown in the river where their carcasses got caught in some debris on the river’s edge. They were about 12 feet long and about 6 inches in diameter.

Our new companions arrived with little luggage as they were only staying 2 nights on the boat, but brought a cooler of beer, wine, and plenty of snacks with them, which they generously shared with us. Before we started up the river again, they were given a large canoe type motorized boat ride like we had the day before. We declined to go with them as we preferred to watch more orangutans on the opposite shore.
Once underway again, our destination turned out to be a village near the hills seen from the boat.
And this was our dock. We took off our shoes and walked gingerly over a plank laid down for us.
Villages come here to bathe, to wash clothes, to scale fish, to swim, and catch fish. These girls were quite shy about having their picture taken and only when they were not looking in my direction was I able to catch their faces.
We were driven to one of the hills and some of us climbed the bigger hill while some of us were driven to a Catholic monastery.
We climbed up a tended path to the top of the hill. Dispersed along the way were several statues which depicted the various stages of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion as described in the Bible. This I found rather sad to see such a waste of resources and effort, but I have little kind to say about religion, of any persuasion. It was also a hot day and the climb had many steps so we welcomed the van and the air conditioning upon our descent.

We picked up the others and then spent the rest of the evening on the boat and docked there during the night.

1 comment:

GETkristiLOVE said...

Yes, it makes sense. I was so excited to see my first Zebra, giraffe, lion on safari and then it became ho-hum by the end of the trip. What I wouldn't give to see one NOW...