Back to the jungle

Hey all,

I’m headed back to the jungle for a little while!  I know I didn’t get a chance to write the Tanjung Puting post (we were too busy beer-ing last night) but I’ll catch up on it next time I’m around town and you can all check out some of my photos on Facebook.  The plan for the next little while is back to camp for about a week, then off for another expedition to do kelasi surveys at Mega Rice, and then who knows!  I’ll be back soon, and in the meantime send me Facebook messages or emails and I will do my best to reply.  Sampai jumpa lagi!

Sungai Sabangau flipped on its head.  Photo cred: Robbie D

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Idul Fitri

As some of you may know, Idul Fitri is a celebration of the end of Ramadhan, the Muslim holy month of fasting.  During Ramadhan Muslim people must abstain from food and water from sunup to sundown, meaning that they wake up around 4 am to eat their first meal of the day and then do not eat or drink water again until about 6 pm.  This is extremely challenging, but of course there are exemptions for people like our field assistants who do manual labor and need to eat/drink throughout the day. Nevertheless, many of them choose to fast at least some of the time, especially during the beginning and end of the holy month.  All of this fasting culminates in one massive holiday called Idul Fitri, which was about a week ago (August 19).  This is essentially the Muslim Christmas; everyone gets together with their extended family to celebrate with massive amounts of food and drinks.  People also open their homes to all of their friends and their friends’ friends and then just spend entire days traveling between houses and eating.  It’s a really nice celebration, and this year we (all of the camp staff and vols) were invited to well over 10 parties.  The unofficial motto for Idul Fitri is “the more the merrier,” which was lucky for us since there were about 25 of us total this year!  I think we made it to about 9 houses that day and ate/drank endless amounts of rice, noodles, cake and juice, and it was really fun to finally meet all of the field assistants’ families.  All in all, it was a successful holiday and a great experience!

Me with some of the field assistants and other staff (bottom left: Luke, Twenti, Supian, Dave; top left: Sis, me, Azis, Ben, Azis K)

OuTrop staff, families, and volunteers at Adul’s house

Whoa

Well it’s been approximately a month since I had internet access (hello, unanswered email and facebook message overload) and about 7 weeks since I had a proper day off, but that time kind of flew by.  I’ve been SUPER busy with the volunteers for the last month or so, and they all just went home today.  It’s very sad to see them go and things are going to be extraordinarily quiet around camp now that they’re gone, but I think they all had an amazing time and are heading home with really great pictures and stories to share.  Here’s a snapshot of the things we’ve been up to over the past month:

  • Ant, tree, and ground flora surveys at the Mega-Rice project site
  • Preparing for kelasi surveys in the MRP starting this month
  • Finishing up all three of the volunteer student projects
  • Celebrating Idul Fitri with our field assistants and their families
  • Mini-holiday in Tanjung Puting National Park

…And those are just the big things.  I’ll write more about some of those events in later posts; tonight and tomorrow are just set aside for relaxing and catching up on my life outside of Borneo so I should have a bit of time to devote to blogs about Idul Fitri and Tanjung Puting.  In the meantime, I’m off to take a mandi (shower) and spend the rest of the night watching a movie or something.  Of the last 24 hours, I have spent 9 on the bus back from Tanjung, 4 asleep, 5 helping the vols pack (saddddd) and seeing them off at the airport, 2 at an Indonesian wedding, and 4 or so sifting through the pile of emails I came back to.  Yikes. Night off, yes please! More tomorrow….