Saturday, November 8, 2014

Taste of the wet season

After going west from Bajawa and trolling around Borong to find a station, we finally made it out to the small village of Lembur to put in one of our beloved seismometers.  This time, we had taken one small shortcut to get to the site regarding the permit process, the village leader.  The owner of the land is the chief of the local hazard mitigation agency, and we had his full permission and escort on the way to the site.

We arrived at the site and lugged all the equipment down a trail onto a small patch of open land.  A few locals emerged out of the banana tree forest looking to make some cash by moving some soil around for us.  Of course, they wanted to bargain for the labor cost.  No problem.  Despite that fact that Cooper or I could dig the hole in 10 minutes, we made a deal.  But, a few shovelfuls later, they started wondering if it was enough money, especially since others where fetching sand and supplies for us.  This is the point where we typically stop and talk things out with the owner and workers.  The conversation led to all aspect of site expense: labor, cigarette money, and the most important fee - site security.  Our lack of pre-approval from the village leader provided some very uncomfortable uncertainty here.  The owner, a chief of an important government organization, did not chip in much on the conversation and suggested that we just go ahead with the install and sort things out later.  Problem.  We forced the issue to make sure that we did not need to worry about leaving our delicate Earth detector behind.  A few smokes later and everything was sorted out.

Midway through the install, the village leader showed up.  He is a nice man and provided us with the comforting knowledge that he would instruct the people to leave the station alone and regard it as a benefit to the community.  Add that to the incentives paid to a few locals: no problem.

It was very humid that day.  I took off my shirt multiple times, rung it out like a sopping wet towel, and pressed on.  The ensuing trip to the next city, Ruteng, provided a cooling climb up into an entirely different climate.  Some relief.

The next morning was smooth.  Nova worked her magic in the permitting office while I wrote about my pants and Cooper studies our station map.  We traveled north to the village of Pagal to meet the Camat.  He happened to be in Ruteng (where we just came from), but we were able to call him by phone to obtain permission to work.  He even offered for us to put it in his back yard!  Great news.  To ease into the situation, and not rush too quickly like some kind of aggro-bules, we had coffee and lunch in the Camat's house.  This ended up being unfortunate - it rained hard of the ensuing 5 hours - a taste of the wet season.  But hey, what would be a field season in the tropics without spending a day huddled under a tarp rolling around in the mud?  Long story short, the well-oiled maching was in operation, but may be a bit rusty after this one.

We wrapped it up and headed back to Bajawa to spend the night.  The next morning, we drove back to Ende to catch our flight to Kupang.  Back to the 'big city,' back in the creature comforts of a nice hotel - for a night.  17 down, 5 to go.

Leaving Ende.  The city is built on a small peninsula that connects
Flores Island (right of pic) to a few volcanic cones that loom over
the city.  

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