Comings and goings…
The last term of the school year up here on the mountain has been incredibly busy. So…where to start?
One constant is the joy offered by the monkey bars in the school playground – never seems to get dull!
There have also been birthday parties galore, where too much Elsa is never enough…
Culturally interesting school field trips, learning about Indonesian family values:
Strange and unusual critters:
And newly acquired skills in the form of homemade sausages:
But by far the most exciting event was Nana and Grandad’s first trip to the jungle. Visitors are a rare and welcome delight up here and this visit in particular made a couple of little kids very happy indeed! Mum and Dad were also lucky enough to experience a chopper ride up the mountain which is a remarkable introduction to the dense beauty of our jungle home.
Coinciding with their visit was a two-week long festival hosted by the local Kamoro Tribe and their accompanying Ethnologist Kal Muller (www.kamoroculture.blogspot.com) who has lived and studied the tribe for decades. The Kamoro are a tribe of around 18,000 who hail from the surrounds of Timika and live a peaceful lifestyle of hunting, gathering and fishing. The tribesmen use their dogs and spears to hunt for meat staples like pigs and cassowaries while the women gather crustaceans, grubs, fruits and vegetables, just like their ancestors did.
The Kamoro spent a whole week at school with the kids, teaching them traditional weaving, carving, drumming and dancing techniques. They were fantastic with the kids and every day heralded a stack of new stories to bring home.
The Kamoro were also special guests at Sunday Brunch, during which they shared with diners how some of their food staples are harvested and prepared.
Of particular interest was the preparation of Sago, the Kamoro’s staple carbohydrate. Just before a sago tree reaches flowering age (around 10-15 years), the pith in it’s trunk transforms into an almost pure form of soft carbohydrate which is easily harvested with blunt axe-like tools. The resulting pulp is mixed with water, filtered and drained in a long trough where the starch settles and progressively solidifies over the course of an hour or two.
The resulting solid sago starch is grated, mixed with water and prepared for consumption in a variety of ways. We were told that the sago is commonly baked on iron over a fire into something resembling a pancake or waffle. This carbohydrate is the main accompaniment to the Kamoro’s protein sources – typically seafood, pig and cassowary meats. There are, however some more exotic forms of protein that the Kamoro enjoy. One being the fat and juicy Sago Grub, housed in the same trees from which the sago starch is sourced. When ingesting these, it is important to gulp them rear end first before biting off the grub below the head in order to avoid the two sharp teeth it uses to scrape the sago pith…we decided to give trying one a miss.
The other, possibly less enticing, worm-like food source is the ‘Tambelo’ a bivalve mollusk that lurks in fallen rotting mangrove tree trunks. This long, slimy, smelly delicacy is viewed by the Kamoro as a health food, cure-all and an aphrodisiac! It apparently tastes like a sweet oyster, but I couldn’t tell you if that were true…
The Kamoro also shared their traditional method of sealing an animal skin (in this case lizard) onto the top of a carved drum, using blood mixed with lime as the glue.
The Kamoro’s primary source of cash income is the sale of their intricate carvings with the aforementioned drums, wall hangings, ancestral totems and cassowary-feather head-dresses proving very popular among the locals up here.
Visits from Nana, Grandad and the Kamoro certainly made the month of May one to remember for many reasons with good fun had by all, but the fun certainly didn’t end there.
The kids participated in the school-run ‘Hardball Classic’, held at the local Sportsfield. It was a magnificently warm and sunny day, perfect for ball games. Gracie’s age group played T-ball while Ava’s class played ‘Kick Ball’ which is essentially baseball rules played with a soccer ball, stacks of fun!
The following weekend was the Bali Swim Meet where Ava joined seven other ‘Tembagapura Torpedos’ in a friendly swim meet with the Bali-based Australian Independent School. It was great fun with all of the kids thoroughly enjoying the weekend of swimming and recreation. The Mums who chaperoned also had a ball, enjoying good food, wine and company.
In the past week, we have also enjoyed the end of year school concert where the kids had an absolute ball singing, dancing and performing on stage after many weeks of dedicated practice at school.
The following day saw the kids enjoying their school break up dance party at the Lupe.
Our final social event for the term was the community Hash Run – a first for us! The Hash saw us spend a couple of hours traversing town streets, drains, rivers, hills and the jungle which made for a very messy morning full of fun and muck! Not many photos of this one as the environment was definitely not camera-friendly.
And so now that ‘School’s Out’, it’s time to look forward to our lengthy ‘Summer Break’ (winter break for us Aussies). For us this means another longed-for trip back home to Oz, catching up with family and friends while enjoying an uninterrupted food supply…it’s the simple things!
Until next time,
(See you later)