Satisfying the “Lust”

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Updates from home

The title of this blog is Hubbard Wanderlust, and just because I’m not in the position any longer to travel frequently, does not mean the Lust is not there. “Lust” means “appetite or zest for” in German. I regularly assure Hubby that we WILL travel again to those places we dreamed of during our short stint in Indonesia. We may not stay in a villa, but we will find a way. On the Wanderlust list: Iceland to see Garđar and Kristin, and geysers; Ireland; NYC to visit Julie, Jessica and Bill; Canada to see cousins Paul and Sue; California – more cousins, … and the rest of the world, of course.

In addition to travel, there are many other things I’ve lusted after (it sounds much naughtier in English) that have been more easily fulfilled in this state of unemployed limbo. For example, playing great music. There’s a new Irish tune group in town that’s led by a professor of distinction, and I’m honored to be playing fiddle with them. Irish music is one of my greatest loves, and I’ve wanted to learn it for decades, and the timing is right. This gentleman also has plans to get a gamelan set here! Balinese music in Spearfish! I’ve also been asked to join a local jazz band playing the piano. Another love of mine. These are mostly older gals and fellas (calling them that ameliorates the “old”, right?) who love playing and who perform around the area. And then there’s the loyal piano duet club in town who are preparing for their biannual concert at the end of the month. Always fun!

Books. So many books, so little time, as “they” say. I used to feel guilty reading for pleasure, because there were always papers to grade, course planning to finish and household chores. The chores are still there, and I still neglect them as often as before, but now I read books! I’ve finished Room, Dark Matter: a Novel, and Wool, among others. You can see I like the creepy stuff. I’m in the middle of The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden, a quirky and hilarious romp set in South Africa during Apartheid. A very intelligent former student recommended American Gods by Neil Gaiman, so I bought it and anticipate it will be deep and thought-provoking. Thanks Ben.

The rage among the ladies in Tembagapura was the Thermomix, an amazing all-in-one kitchen gadget that’s been around for decades in the rest of the world. Of course I had to have one. I’ve made yogurt, bread, lava cakes, German Quark donut balls (OMG), pudding and so many more delights that fattened me right back up. There is also the option of cooking really healthy food in the Thermomix, and I’ll get to that eventually. I suffered (Hee hee) inexplicable weight loss in Indonesia. My palate never did find delight in much of the Indonesian food, and the international dishes offered were never quite the same, save for the Sunday brunches at the Lupe. Consequently, I shrank.

I made soap, another thing I’d planned for years and now have time for. Yummy lavender, orange and peppermint soap.

Wanderlust. When you’re not working, there’s time for the mind to wander. Mostly about finding a job, but I often think about how proud I am of our son and daughter who both finished their undergrad degrees this May. Wow. One’s a pilot, the other a mathematician. Both so brave and intelligent. It amazes me that I turned out such amazing kids. We are so excited about watching their next ventures, and hoping they let us help out and hang around them a lot.

My daily routine involves a visit to the nursing home memory care wing. Mom is always ecstatic to see me and wonders how I knew where she is and how she will get home when she checks out?

This is the greatest blessing to this otherwise discouraging time in our lives. We have time for each other. To comfort and laugh with Mom in the nursing home while doing her nails or playing BINGO. To spend relaxed time with Hubby, cooking meals, watching our shows, bicycling on the Mickelson and going out with friends.

The bright side always wins!

 

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Don’t Get too Comfortable

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.

It’s the people, people!

It’s the people, people!

There are so many reasons to become disgruntled with life in this remote, rainy, dysfunctional place. There are also hundreds of reasons to fall in love with it. Their names are English, Indonesian, South African, Spanish, African, Dutch and various other nationalities.

Here in Tembagapura there is no excuse for boredom, and this is due to the creative ingenuity of the residents who refuse to let a week go by without some healthy – sometimes not so healthy – fun. The activities run the spectrum from quilting to running through the jungle with beer stops along the way. This was in the form of the Movember Hash Run, a fund raiser for fighting prostate cancer.

There are church services, RC airplanes to fly, floor hockey, hikes to Hidden Valley or the waterfall, parties and balls; visits to the Tomawin dorm where the Papuan children live during the school year. Some women (ibus) fly to remote villages and take supplies to the impoverished residents. I’d gladly join the next outing that happens when I’m there.

There is yoga, Body Pump, and Zumba for the fitness oriented, and cards three days a week at the coffee shop. Two ibus very adept at organizing social gatherings hosted a lively and festive Christmas gift exchange.

In November on the day of the Melbourne Cup horse race the Aussie women host a fancy luncheon. We wore our finest garden party clothing and of course frilly hats (called fascinators, apparently). I have learned so much here. Betting, eating, drinking wine and cheering for your horse ruled the day.

November 3rd started the Christmas season during which multiple church services, school programs and parties took place. Whew! Then came International Day on November 9th, a celebration of diversity in our community sponsored by The Ladies Club. The theme was Flower Power in the Jungle, and the outfits were so appropriate!

And if you get sick of the bustle on the mountain, then you can always escape to Australia or Bali to relax. And don’t forget the Rimba Golf Club in the lowlands, its eighteen holes carved out of the dense jungle.

I hope you enjoy the photos of ex-pat life inTembagapura, Papua, Indonesia!

 

Cheers!

Connie

Harvested in Shangri La

 

Two fascinating books deal with aboriginal life on New Guinea and the circumstances surrounding the Western world’s discovery of these peoples. In terms of the history of world populations, New Guinea’s tribes are a very recent discovery, some as recent as the 1930s when a zoologist flew over the Baliem Valley in western New Guinea and spied a large settlement. Lost in Shangri-La, by Mitchell Zuckoff narrates the horrific military plane crash toward the end of WWII in the Baliem Valley. Of dozens of passengers, three survived and clamored through the jungle where they encountered the Dani tribe, and were eventually rescued many weeks later. This was gripping for me, because my uncle Robert Crosswait was stationed at that base, New Hollandia, during the same time period. He did not return home. (Another blog post).

The other book, Savage Harvest, by Carl Hoffman is an investigation into the 1961 disappearance of Michael Rockefeller, son of Nelson Rockefeller in southern coastal Papua, Indonesia, directly south of where we live in the lowlands. Hoffman concludes that Rockefeller was likely a victim of a cannibalistic ritual performed by the Asmat tribe in revenge for the killing of tribe members by the Dutch a few years earlier.

I’d like to share with you some of the minimal contact I’ve had with the natives of our area, as long as you remember that I am not an expert and have only lived here for a couple of months. I am also very reluctant to walk up to Papuan natives and ask permission to photograph them. My fascination is with the people’s interaction with each other and the newcomers to their region; and with their art and music. I also love working with the children at the Tomawin dorm in town, and watching the non-schooled children as they gallivant around town.

A short distance down the road from Tembagapura is the Banti village. I haven’t visited yet, but the local nurses and doctors go down on a regular basis and often take ex-pat women to occupy the children during clinic hours. Many of the Banti villagers spend the day in and around Tembag; families, men and teenagers.

In the lowlands one can see many artifacts created by various tribes at the Timika Moses Kilganin airport and at the Rimba Hotel. Bisj poles are found in the Rimba hotel, and are the centerpiece of Michael Rockefeller’s quest in the book Savage Harvest. According to Wikipedia, “bisj poles can be erected as an act of revenge, to pay homage to the ancestors, to calm the spirits of the deceased and to bring harmony and spiritual strength to the community.” Another means of appeasing spirits was to take the life of an enemy and to consume his flesh, which may have been the demise of Rockefeller.

Tribes in the vicinity still go to war with each other and use traditional weapons.In Timika tempers flare when debts remain unpaid. Employees of my husband’s company are allowed to declare time off as unpaid leave because “at war”. Occasionally tribesmen come to Tembag and sell their spears, longbows, totems, drums and artwork. Sometimes our friendly local door-to-door salesman will displays his wares. We are suckers and so have purchased a number of weapons from him. Expats who’ve been here a few years warned us not to lick the tips of the arrows and spears. You know, poison and all. Thanks for the warning, because I was so tempted. 🙂

If you are at all interested in tribal life on New Guinea, please read the two books. All I have is a few photos to share, and I hope you enjoy them.

 

 

 

 

What We Leave Behind

senior-clipart-highkicks            To exit the nursing home where my mom lives, I walk from her locked wing, down a long hallway, and through the large dining room. Again that evening there sat another new resident with that face. Nothing shreds my heart quite as much as the face of a care center resident in his or her first days, sitting at a table full of strangers, having a bib fitted around his neck and being lost in the shuffle of mealtime. I cannot imagine the fear, loss, confusion and desperation that these souls must be suffering: some cognizant enough to realize the significance of this step, and some whose memories don’t quite keep up enough for them to grasp it, confused nonetheless.

I recall my own parents and grandmother, and their separate transitions to various facilities. My heart wretched each time I spied that face on my own parents. Guilt, frustration, helplessness set in. Dad was surely suffering the worst loss: his wife had recently died at such a young age, and Alzheimer’s was taking hold. Grandma’s last days were in the same nursing home where my mom is now, and visiting Grandma there was the first time I’d ever been in a nursing home since my candy striper days. After she passed, it took years before I could enter a nursing home again.

It’s easier now, and often a happy place. Shortly before we left for Indonesia Mom, Betty, Barb, Joan, Lanelle, Lyle, Gayle and I had another sing-along. I was on the piano, Mom on the kazoo, Gayle whistling like a bird, Barb stamping her feet, and the others singing the words to oldies, courtesy of memories that reach to a time before their memories played tricks on them. The only thing missing this time was aide Kelly on the tambourine. The reviews are usually great. “Never stop!” Or, “That was fantastic.” Only once did I get, “Will you please turn that thing off?”

I’ve missed this as much as anything else, in our move to Papua. Relatively frequent calls and video chats to Mom in the “home” don’t allow me to play the piano, but provide a comfort for us both. And soon I’ll be back there for a few weeks to get all my hugs and host sing-alongs.

 

 

Jungle Golf

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We’ve been here nearly a month, and have heard there is a means of getting off this mountain to see more of the world’s second largest island of New Guinea. So what if it’s simply an overnight trip down to the Rimba golf club and Rimba Papua Hotel? No, they are not connected as I wrongly assumed, but there are reliable drivers to get us from here to there.

There are two remarkable things to write about in a post about the golf trip to the
“lowlands”. One is the transportation there and the golf itself. The other is the stay at the Rimba Hotel, a monstrous and beautiful tribute to the art and culture of Papua and the exotic landscape. Except for once, when we had stayed there, the place was practically vacant
, so it reminded me of being in the hotel in “The Shining.”

ht_shining_hotel_er_160420_4x3_608          Every Saturday the golf bus takes a couple dozen serious golfers to the club in Kuala Kencana (koo-a-lah ken-chah-nah), a company town purpose-built for PT Freeport. Last weekend it also transported Todd and me, occasional golfers. One can identify the serious golfers by the way they spring out of their seats seconds before the bus has stopped and grab their gear. Much like when an airplane lands and everyone (except me) does the “Hurry up and wait” routine. Hurry-up, grab your carry-ons and wait in the aisle. By the time they were on the practice range enthusiastically whacking balls, I was perspiring just getting from the locker room to the pro shop. It was going to be a long, nine holes.

We rented equipment and the two required caddies and headed first for the practice, and then to the links. The course was beautiful, difficult, dotted with curves, ponds, sand traps, and jungle on either side of the fairway. Exotic birds cheered us on along the way, though we only actually saw one of them. A white cockatoo flew over us! By the end of the seventh hole I had hit too many balls into the jungle and my back ached, so I let Todd finish without me. It was here I made to decision to get an instructor the next time.

The locker rooms at the club house are nearly as luxurious as the Rimba Hotel. I’d only been to a golf club in England for “dinnah”, so felt über pampered. Showers, a cold tub outside, the works. We spent the afternoon dining and sipping exotic drinks off the 18th hole.

The next morning we made with ease to the airport in time to catch the chopper, feeling quite smart. The weather was good, so all signs pointed to a 20-minute flight up the mountain instead of a torturous bus ride. Alas, when we went to check our baggage we were reminded that Todd would not be allowed on the helicopter in his shorts! I looked around desperately for anyone who might have an extra pair of long pants in their suitcase to lend Todd. We were the only ex-pats in the airport, so that was out of the question. I was, however, wearing jeans that would certainly fit Todd. After two fashion shows for the gate attendant, we landed on the appropriate outfits (Todd rocking it in skinny jeans) and climbed on the chopper, all the while giggling at the irony of it all.

skinny jeans

A weekend later we returned to the lowlands for two days where we attempted to golf again, basked in the paradisal pool at the Rimba and had our bones jostled on the bus. Our friend Brad was along, so it was fun times in the lowlands!

 

 

 

 

 

Beetlejuice, Betelgeuse, Betel Juice!

The betel nut, aka the areca nut and its many uses is the topic for today’s lecture. Other common names for the seed of the feathery areca palm tree are paan, pinlang and supari. Mouth-sized red fibrous wads lying on the sidewalk in your path reveal evidence that the betel nut has recently been consumed in your proximity.

Some of these specimens are dry, indicating the user had retained the contents in his/her mouth long enough to glean as many of the central nervous system stimulating effects as possible (hover mouse for figure 1). Other specimens indicating a fresh pull manifest themselves in the red deck stain-colored juice expelled while chewing the seed contents (hover mouse for figure 2). The third is the fibrous wad along with the red juice together in a colorful and textured display, showing the process at mid-stage (hover mouse for figure 3).

Just some lighthearted cultural trivia. It is indeed true that it’s difficult to walk along a sidewalk without encountering red spit and expelled betel nut. It’s also difficult to look at any group of native men and women without gaping gobs smiling from the euphoric effects, which are reportedly much like tobacco. It kind of reminds me of a rodeo, except the color is different, and here there is no attempt to conceal it. Next time I venture out, I’ll try to capture a gob in action, though it’s awkward asking for photos of people with their mouths full.