Don’t get too comfortable.
As I sat on the sofa last night mentally planning for my return to Tembagapura in a couple of weeks, I got a call from hubby Todd. I asked him how the morale was up on the mountain, since the Indonesian government and Freeport have been in dispute since the beginning of the year. “So-and-so is leaving, as is what’s-her-name, I see on Facebook,” I mentioned. “And so is Todd,” he remarks. He was handed papers right before a safety meeting, and once back to his office proceeded to read the information on his termination and subsequent “repatriation”. “But I get to come back, right, and help pack,” I ask.
This is not the case. There are probably more than 20 ex-pats and their families being laid-off, or made redundant, no one knows the exact number as the carnage is not complete. At least one couple was notified while they were out and told not to come back. Their belongings would be sent. The company certainly has no choice but to slash production, and we hold no malice toward it or those poor superiors who had to deliver the news. I am just so very sad that I’m not given the opportunity to return to the mountain to say goodbye to “the people”. I had such hopes of returning and fostering some solid friendships that I had only just begun to nourish. Why don’t you just go back and visit some day, you ask? Entering this mining town is only accessible to employees and immediate family members. Once Todd has come home we will not be permitted back.
I miss our little apartment with the bugs and the Papuan women who clean their produce in our yard. I miss walks beneath the towering mountains and flowers everywhere. The children of all colors and the rain. I miss the coffee shop, the stinky Hero grocery store and Norma at the Lupe. The Papuans playing pool, lining up their four Bintang beers at the pool tables and smoking. There are things I won’t miss, but those are not in the front of my mind now.
The tears have not ceased in about 24 hours, but they will. There are also beautiful, caring, smart and vibrant people here too, after all. Tembagapura has transformed me in positive ways and I hope not to take the experience for granted, but instead to use them to enrich my and others’ lives.