Sunday, October 5, 2014

Successful trip to Rote Island, first 2 stations installed

Finally, after 3 weeks shuffling through bureaucracy and gathering supplies in Kupang, we set out for Pulau Rote (Rote Island) to install two stations.  Now that we have moved into a set of rented rooms in a shared housing complex, we needed to catch a taxi to get to BMKG.   According to island time, the taxi was 30 minutes late, just barely making us on time to meet the truck that hauled our equipment from BMKG to the harbor.  We loaded up the truck and went on to the Kupang harbor – a location that has been strategically important for Dutch trading since the 1600’s.

Ferry leaving the port from Kupang.
Cooper riding the boat -- like a boss.

The ferry to the town of Ba’a (Rote) is about a two-hour ride across calm water this time of year.  Each end of the ferry ride was full of eager porters looking to make easy money from people who do not want to carry their own cargo from the boat to the parking lot.  In Ba’a, the unacceptably high and non-negotiable porter fee resulted in us carrying all of our gear to the van awaiting our arrival.  A solid intro to field work labor.  The van waiting for us belongs to the Nemberala Beach Resort, also our destination for the first station and our place to stay for the next few days.  Prior to heading to Nemberala, Nova delivered letters to the Rote administration, effectively moving our way down the disconnected chain of governmental oversight.

Our ride to the resort.  The building in the reflection is one of the many government sites we went to to deliver letters.
Nemberala is a village located in the southwest coast of Rote.  It is famous for it’s exceptional surf, providing an excellent setting for those looking for consistent and high-quality breaks.  The reef offshore produces mostly left-hand waves due to the winds predominantly arriving from the south across the Indian Ocean.  When combined with the stellar resort, this place is certainly worth the effort to get there.   Owner Greg Rogers has been particularly helpful in arranging things up to this point.  He set us up with a location to put the first station on the resort grounds.

The first station installed on Rote at Nemberala Resort.  In the far distance, looking west, is the offshore break.  The seismometer is under the big pile of sand, the datalogger and power supply is under the solar panel.

The other target for installation was in the other side of Rote, in the village of Papela. We hired a taxi for the day to take us there, cautiously optimistic that we would be able to install the station and return to Nemberala. Our first means of business was to meet the village leader to inform him of our intentions.  This was (and will continue to be) a priority, as this the most important level of oversight for the project.  At this point, we are four levels of permitting into our project – national, provincial, regency within province, and local.

The village leader is kind and helpful, and directed us to the police to suggest our installation to take place there.  We met at the police station and found everyone there to be helpful and accepting of our efforts.  This all must have a lot to do with Nova’s terrific personality and obvious capability to explain the importance and utility of our research project.

By the time we started working, it was 2pm and very hot.  As we began to work at a furious pace, we had a hint of being able to return to the resort for a second beachside stay.  A secondary effect of this hard work is to separate us from other bules (white people) that visit the island – it was assumed we were looking for help with labor… they seem to enjoy watching us work.  The police chief showed up toward the end of the install and was exited to see what we doing.  It was good to know that our site would be looked over while we are away.

A typical scene at an international install.  

The police deputy, Cooper, Nova, police chief Pak Ahmed, Leland

We finished before sunset and arrived back at the resort by 7:30pm, a surprisingly great result.  The next morning, we took the ferry back to Kupang to organize our next round of installs.  The water was a bit more choppy going back, but the satisfaction of a bit of progress made it all fine.

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