Saturday morning stroll

Saturday morning provided a rare sunny day in Tembagapura, so Todd and I canvassed the entire town top to bottom to top again.

Here are some images from our trek.


Winging it


It’s all about the adventure:

In a country where tribes still war, before the freight has arrived, before Wi-Fi is installed in your apartment, and without a TV you have to improvise. This manifests itself in a variety of realitites:

Realizing there probably won’t be a bus to Timika this weekend for golf or shopping because of the TRIBAL UNREST!

Accepting that you are the wife and will NOT be given legal access to the bank account.

Tethering your phone to the computer in order to create a Wi-Fi hotspot

Using superglue from artificial nail kit to plug the ant path and to fix the knob on the          bathroom drawer

Transferring cleaning liquids from pouches to used water bottles so they don’t spill

Going without a nightcap because the bar closes at 8:30 – every day.

Learning how to put money on the phones in a SIM card system wondering why your call got cut off when you appear to still have money.

Where to get mail and send letters

Accepting that there will not always be Internet

Trusting that the lake in the back yard will subside

Buying jeans at the Hero store and hemming with a motel sewing kit

Ordering pad Thai and chicken soup at an Indonesian restaurant because you can’t            read the menu.

Rejoicing at 14 boxes at the DHL office that we have to get ourselves without a car
Walking everywhere – uphill

Shopping at the store

with your face buried in your phone for translations

Reheating food on the stove and toasting bread in the oven.

Buying UHT (ultra pasteurized milk) because there’s usually no fresh milk.

Snacking on Crab Crackers in place of tortilla or potato chips.

And tolerating the high-decibel aerobics class from across the alley: dance music, screaming and all.



In Papua at Last

             On Monday, July 18, we arrived in Timika, Papua, via the 1:50 am flight from Denpasar, Bali. Timika is in the “lowlands, ” a town of around 130,000. It is doubtful that we will ever have cause to go into the city of Timika, but this is where the airport is. It’s a rough place from the sound of it, having the highest rate of HIV/AIDS in Indonesia, and home to occasional tribal wars-  yes, spears and bows and arrows in the city streets. 
Screen Shot 2016-07-22 at 9.15.58 AMThe Rimba Papua is the hotel where Freeport employees are housed on the way to and from the jobsites.  It’s a lush resort with pool, golf, restaurant, bar and a few mosquitos. It’s wet, as you can imagine. Our new friend Rama met us there and ushered us to the immigration office in Timika, where we handed over our passports for an indefinite time period. That’s how it’s done here.

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The next morning, Tuesday I think, we finally made it to Tembagapura. The choppers don’t run anymore on Tues., Wed., and Thur., so we suffered the 2 and a half ride in the armored bus up 7,000 feet.
Eventually we get to see our new home-away-from-home. It’s a nice two-bedroom apartment on the ground floor with new Ikea kitchen cabinets and and entertainment unit. My sarong from Bali looks nice stapled on the wall.  The Hero store across the street will have a TV.  No hair dryers, though since 3 years, and I blew mine out in Bali.
“Keep it locked”,  EVERYONE has told us, or Papuans will help themselves. “They must not need it, and I do, so I’ll take it,” is the mentality. If your pair of boots is sitting outside the door, and they are too big for the thief, he’ll still take the laces!
 Our refrigerator is stocked with some basics – nice. Funny rectangular bread, fresh veggies!, ground beef, pasta sauce with no seasonings in it, and more. We have a “yard” with moss as grass and uncountable tropical trees and spruces.
 I have music on my phone and a good Bluetooth speaker. The gym is across the street so I can work out every day (or never). So is the entire “Shopping”; I can throw a rock and hit it. I’ve met some great gals in passing, Americans and Aussies. We won’t go hungry, since there are these Frito-Lay poser chips and some banana leaves??? I was shocked to find a pair of Lee jeans that fit and look good, though I had to hem them by hand today. I didn’t pack for the cool weather. 
Mining towns are probably similar all over the world. When we walked in the bar at the Lupe, we may as well have been in Lead, South Dakota during Homestake’s heyday. The same strong faces on men wearing mining diggers, vests and boots. Only when you look at the other side of the room do you realize that you are definitely NOT in Lead, SD. The pool tables are constantly occupied by beautiful Papuans. They smoke, drink beer, and throw their cans over the hillside! I love it.
Todd is on his first day at work Wednesday. Last night we went to the Lupa Lelah club to meet our old friend Brad, and happened on a going away party for one of the managers. There were another couple of guys whom Todd had met before on this or that job in South Dakota or Wyoming. You think the world is small when you see a friend from Sundance or Belle Fourche in the Spearfish WalMart! He’s quite excited to be part of such a booming mine operation, especially since mining around the world is slowing to a halt.

G’Day Bali

Arrival in Bali! Heat, humidity. We changed currency and are now millionaires – at least in Rupiah.

            Our driver from the Denpasar, Bali, airport to the Patra Jasa Bali Hotel “offered” to take us the next day to see some sites during our one-day stay in Bali. The first lesson we learned after the fact was that you are supposed to barter with everyone. Though we thought the deal he gave us

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was more than fair, we probably could have got it cheaper.
            His name was Gede (pronounced G’Day). Later in the day when he introduced one of his co-workers as Gede, we remarked how unusual it was that they should both have the same name. Silly us! All first-born Balinese are named Gede, men and women. There is also a name for the second, third, born on down the line. How confusing that must be!
            Gede’s car, like every other car, was decorated with prayer offerings made of palm leaves. He drove us through the extremely busy streets to various sections of southern Bali, each section occupied by a different artisan group. “Busy streets” is a gross understatement. Two-lane roads are converted to 4 or 6 lanes by motor scooters squeezing between the cars, going all directions. Like England, they drive on the left side, so I soon learned to contain myself from shrieking when I thought we were going to die because we were on the wrong side of the road.
            The first stop was to a Balinese theater; a story in five acts of good and evil creatures and the fight for victory. The dance was beautiful and the gamelan music mesmerizing. I think my eyes leaked a few tears.
            We watched batik being made, gold and silver smiths at work, saw the civets out of which the kopi luwak coffee is harvested. Literally, out of the animals. Look it up. There we also got to taste 13 different coffee and tea beverages from ginseng coffee to flowery teas. The more hot beverages I drank, the more I sweated in the imposing humidity.
            We went to a Hindu temple where every visitor was fitted in a sarong before entering. The rock carvings are incredible, especially when framed by the colorful vibrant foliage. Prayer trays made of palm leaves, flowers and aromatic grasses were placed everywhere. We bartered with a woman to purchase one and laid it on a statue of some god. She wanted 20,000 rupiah; we gave her 5,000 and she was delighted.
            Woodcarving is everywhere, ornate, and beautiful. In the Rimba hotel in Papua where Freeport employees are housed on their trek into and out of the mine site, every door and table is from carved wood, usually mahogany. We watched carvers at work at one of our stops. We do realize that the day was planned by Gede to provide customers to all of the artisan shops, but we didn’t care. I got a couple of trinkets, and we had been chauffeured to places we would otherwise not have found on our own. By the way, tourists do not drive their own cars there.
            Then after an exhausting day, Gede returned us to the Patra Jasa Bali, where we took another swim and had a beer at the floating bar (that was on my bucket list). Next time on Bali, we will venture out to more temples, beaches and who knows what? I just hope Tobias and Elizabeth are with us next time!
And perhaps my little frog friend in the hotel loo will visit me again next time. Now, that woke me up!



Cathay Pacific Lavatories, etc.

Flying without an unexpected delay is unusual for me, but again, as in February, we avoided one. Though, instead of a three hour layover in LA, we had to race to our Hong Kong flight, because construction at LAX caused us to delay departure from Dallas/Ft. Worth. Once snugly buckled into our Lay Z Boys on a Cathay Pacific Boeing 777, champagne in hand, plane far from being loaded, the 14 and a half hour flight to Hong Kong was much the same as in February.

Certainly the fact that we are moving half way around the world is exciting. But often focusing on the small stuff along the way is just as entertaining and makes the whole concept less daunting. For example, I get to delight in the simple action of using the restroom on a Cathay Pacific 777. Before takeoff, I set out for my usual trek to the lavatory. The one on my side was occupied, and I waited what I thought was very patiently. The young male Chinese flight attendant apparently saw the slight level of discomfort on my face, and rushed to the lavatory on the other side, returned with an enormous grin, and reported that it was indeed vacant. He ushered me there proudly (it was 15 feet away). A short time later when the same attendant came to deliver the evening’s menu, he again apologized that I had had to wait. He has no idea.

Perhaps you aren’t as interested in airplane loos, but I spend a lot of time there, so I also enjoy the fact that these are cleaned after each use; and that there are live orchids in them. I know from experience that this will not be the case in Indonesia. There one should bring one’s own toilet paper, and the floor is likely to be wet from all the spraying with the kitchen-like sprayer that is used in lieu of TP. As Jimmy Fallon says, “Aieeww.”

There’s another important difference between flying Economy and Business, and this is the airport lounge. Yes, we each had a shower in Hong Kong in a luxurious private shower/bathroom. The guilty conscience was not enough to deprive me of relishing this rare pleasure on an international flight. The free buffet wasn’t bad either.


leg room
This becomes a bed with TV, cabinet, blankets, pillow. Spoiled? yes – and  blessed, and grateful.


Exit Stage Left

Was it Snagglepuss who said, “Exit stage left?” We are allowed 1,000 pounds of airfreight, and a “reasonable” amount to send in a sea container. The movers came two weeks ago to pack our boxes and load the sea items. Once they arrived, someone remembered that, though 1,000 lbs. would easily fit into 4 large boxes of 250 lbs. each (which is what they brought), each box is only permitted to be 65 lbs. So those 4 large boxes wouldn’t work, and someone had to bring some smaller ones from Rapid City. This, along with the fact that two of the men were on their first day on the job, and didn’t see any problem with just placing the items in boxes with barely any cushioning. It will be interesting to see what makes it in one piece. If you recall, you cannot just go shop for new things in Tembagapura. There is only one store (do you remember the old Gambles stores?), and the stock varies each week.

I feel we can live without a lot of the comforts of home for a time. The airfreight may arrive within a month. The sea, on the other hand, could take up to 6 months. And that is where we stupidly put the microwave. And my piano!

On July 14th, Todd and I sped around town filling last-minute prescriptions to last a year, making a bank run, and quick stops for rushed good-byes. I was determined not to allow myself a “snot fest” (I pirated this from another Tembagapura blogger), and was mostly successful. All the while daughter Lizzy packed up her car for return to East River South Dakota, where she’ll finish therapy on her knee, on-line courses, and gaining flying hours. She was very brave and only dropped a tear or two in our presence.

Our friends Kris and Woody Hayes helped send us off, and Woody drove us 50 miles to the airport in Rapid City.

So-long for now. We are very excited and positive about this trek, fully aware of the challenges that face us.