An interesting village trip

A few days ago I took a trip out past the village we will live in to go visit another member of the translation team who lives much, much further out in the middle of nowhere.  No cell phone reception, and either a 30 minute boat trip or a 20 minute, really nasty trail to ride on the motorbike.

On the upside, because it is so remote the village is all the same ethnicity, which means the language and culture aren’t all mixed up with everybody else’s.  It means we have some great research opportunities there, although for the foreseeable future it will probably just be me (Matt) by myself making trips out there.

The trail to get there was beautiful:

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Although I rode my motorbike all the way in, I opted not to do so on the way out.  Thinking about taking a bad fall off the bike out there where the next person may not come along for a few hours/days and there’s no phone reception made me decide to take a boat back out instead of the trail.  So, in the standard Indonesian utilitarian way, we just put my motorbike on the front of an outrigger canoe:

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While I was there, I had the chance to meet some very talented musicians, and learn about a 2-string guitar-like instrument they have:

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Unfortunately the art of playing and building these instruments is almost dead, but the gentleman above still knows how to do both!  Hopefully in the next few months he’ll have made a few new ones – one for me and another new one for himself.  You can see in the picture that the instrument looks a lot like a boat – there’s a very good reason for that considering they are a fishing culture.

In the morning I also had a chance to go out fishing with a few of the guys.  Here, they fish using spear guns.  I don’t have a great picture of the guns, but you can see the fronts of some here:

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To get in and out of the village, you have to sail through a mangrove swamp:

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Once we got out to the fishing spot, the guys just hop of the boat and go diving with their spear guns, popping up every once in a while to toss their catch into the canoe.

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Something else I saw out there that caught my eye was this guy in his boat:

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At first I couldn’t figure out what he was doing, playing with some hose in his boat.  And why was he running an air compressor in his canoe?  Then, I realized that he was only the guy on the surface – the other members of his team were diving down deep below to fish, using the air from the compressor to breathe.  If you have seen BBC’s Human Planet series, the episode on Oceans shows fishermen doing this in the Philippines.  It’s called compressor diving, and it’s not the safest thing in the world.

This turned out to be a pretty interesting trip.  On my way back, I had a chance to swing by the village we’re going to live in, and I was encouraged to see that work has started on our house!  Hopefully in a few months we can finally start living there as a family.

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