Monday, May 15, 2006

As I mentioned earlier, yesterday I went to an evacuation camp to talk with people who’ve sought shelter outside the risk area. When we pulled up to the converted elementary school, a circle of TNI soldiers greeted us with smiles. They’re all used to the media attention, but seemed a little surprised to hear that we were reporting for America. I’ve had several discussions here that go like this. Reporter from America? Really? Aren’t you afraid? Don’t the Americans think we’re all terrorists? Not me, I say. I know most people in Indonesia are good people. Just a few mean ones, I say. But why don’t you tell all the tourists to come back? They say. Okay, I say; I’ll try. At the evacuation camp, surrounded by soldiers in jungle camouflage, I ended the conversation by saying: but can you take me to the terrorists, please?

The camp was small and cramped, with two thousand people living elbow to elbow on the floor of the classrooms. There were 30 people in the one we visited, and there were children running around everywhere. People staying there are from the mountain villages, and most of them haven’t seen a lot of white faces up close. We were certainly the focus of amusement during out few minutes there. We talked to Ibu Lis, whose husband was still up on the mountain as of Sunday afternoon. She told us that she’d been staying in the shelter, on the crowded floor of the classroom, for 10 days. She said she hasn’t had any income at all since the evacuation. Only government help, she said. I asked her if she was worried for her husband. Of course, she said. Farming can be dangerous work.

Outside in the courtyard, we crouched next to a circle of women who were packing food in plastic bags for the evacuees. A huge metal pot of something called sayor. Green beans, potatoes, in a very spicy red sauce. They insisted we try some. It was fantastic. They wanted to give us more. We tried to refuse. Something very weird about taking food made for emergency evacuees. Our translator from Jogja refused to try it, and was obviously concerned about the sanitation there. I recorded our conversation with the volunteers, who were obviously found my Bhasa and my recording of the sayor pot very amusing. I’m interviewing the sayor, I told them. You can make up your own mind about their reaction by listening to the audio link below.

A group of women preparing a traditional dish in an evacuation camp near Mount Merapi


Blogger Xtopher42 said...

You're doing a great job. Keep it up, stay safe, I'll be pointing people at you.

10:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a journalist from the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia. Do you have a phone number I can reach you on in Indonesia. Would be good to have a chat about the volcano.


5:15 PM  
Blogger mr_john said...

Sayur means vegetables.

Good luck man...

11:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very pretty site! Keep working. thnx!

2:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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5:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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9:08 AM  

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