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.
The 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.
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.