Thursday, November 6, 2014

Westward across Flores

The long day of travel from Lembata Island to the city of Ende placed us in an excellent situation to progress westward across Flores Island.  We woke up early to begin our permitting in town, a while taking advantage of a prior connection with a police officer from an earlier station.  The police led us to a land owner who has a piece of property on the outside of Ende that lies along the base of a slope formed from a old volcanic caldera.  Our first meeting with this man gave an odd impression – he looked like he just woke up from a deep slumber and may be a bit ‘eccentric.’  He showed us the location, we talked over the pros and cons, and them moved on to finalize our permitting.  The biggest issue was the presence of trees that would obscure our afternoon sunlight. 

When we were ready to begin working, we picked the owner up – this time to find him decked out in full ‘bro’ status, wearing a “hardcore” t-shirt and Oakley ballcap.  It was go time!  He uses the property to grow cassava root; these have tall slender stems with a small cluster of leaves on the top.  No problem to have them growing around our station.  Most certainly, the 3x3 meter patch of land we are using will yield him a much greater income that what a few cassava plants can provide.  But, we still had the problem of afternoon shade.  Foolishly, we worried about this a little too soon – we were working in the cooling shade of a small jackfruit tree and made it clear that the station would not be successful unless we had more sunlight.  No problem, nothing that five minutes of machete whacks can’t take care of (we should have waited to finish working, then cut the tree).  Gotta love Indonesian forestry technique!

The truth is in the hole, Cooper earning the title of field seismologist.

Finished station in Ende.  So hardcore, "come at me bro."  Cassava plants growing in the background.

In one day, we fully permitted a site, installed it, and traveled on to the next city.  Very good progress.  Our arrival in Bajawa that night positioned us to do the same.  Unfortunately, the next morning was slow and cumbersome, include a cast of characters that were a little less than helpful.  We finally made it to the village ~15 km east of Bajawa that we targeted for install, Sarasedu.  A little more roundabout discussion, a 2 km round trip jalan jalan (walking road trip), and multiple changes to our schedule yielded us an install location for the next morning.  We showed up the next morning and proceeded to deploy the well-oiled machine.  Yes, that is what we are at this point - oiled by sweat, blood, funk, pineapple, more sweat, lots of dirt.  An hour before we finished, Nova and our cargo truck went ahead to the next city to begin permitting while us bule gilas stayed behind to wrap it up.  Two more installs to go on this segment of the trip, seven more total remaining.  We are all looking forward to our return to North America.

The rewarding view from Ende to Bajawa...

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