14 April 2005 - Eric
Banda Aceh, Sumatra, a Few Days in Singapore, Banda Aceh

I am typing these words in the baking hot Banda Aceh airport while waiting for the
plane which has been delayed for mechanical reasons. In plain view from where I sit,
below an open engine shroud, several men are leaning over the hood of a pickup
truck smoking and scratching and thumbing through the pages of a book that is
uncomfortably thick. Within several hundred meters sits a certain famous cargo plane
that was landing here a few months back and struck a water buffalo mid runway. The
damage was so severe the owners sold the plane for scrap metal.

Today is my birthday. Thank you all for reminding me. It is time to leave the country in
order to re-enter with visa renewed. I am headed to the Indonesian Embassy in
Singapore to apply for a new and different visa that does not require such frequent
upkeep.

The 8.7quake a few weeks ago did not kill anyone straight off here in Aceh, though
many people were injured from the panicked rush to escape town. A few buildings
have since crumbled in the frequent after jigglers and killed several people. I had
been eyeing a particular six-story building that had cracks all through it and wondered
when it would go. It is now a huge pile of rubble. Like many buildings around town,
including Aceh’s finest hotel, it fell in stages a few floors at a time beginning with the
9.0 tsunami quake. Many rubble piles remain cordoned off and untouched over the
bodies beneath them.

The big quake of March 28th decimated much of the islands of Nias and Simeulue
near its epicenter. That is about one hundred kilometers off the western Sumatran
coast, four hundred kilometers south of Banda Aceh. Many volunteer agencies in the
area responded immediately and adequately but their rescue efforts were hindered by
stormy seas and destroyed roads and airports. One of the most pressing needs for
the many refugees there was and still is clean drinking water. I met up with a few
volunteers in Aceh who were heading to Nias the day after the quake and loaded them
up with water purifiers. I tried to ship some to Yoss who had sent me a message from
Jogjakarta on the day of the quake saying he was headed to Nias. Once he got there
he sent me an address but reliable delivery service was nearly impossible.

The Krueng Raya fishing boats are moving along at a rapid pace. Bang Afan made
four attempts down the muddy road before he succeeded in delivering a significant
amount of wood. The crew is well supplied, the Chinese diesel generator purrs
smoothly and it is asses and elbows everywhere you look.

I recently watched a crane unload a big shipment of boats donated by Kuwait to the
dock in Krueng Raya. According to the Sea Commander, of one hundred and ten
boats delivered, only a few have been accepted by fishermen who generally don’t trust
the small unstable craft on these rough seas.

Around Aceh the rebuilding goes on one village at a time. Some have gone ahead with
their own longer termed projects while others have opted for immediate short term
housing. Mugsi, from a few doors down, has become village Kecik and showed me a
3-D project plan for his village Lampoh Daya. They will submit the plan to the
Indonesian government who will help finance contractors to build parts of it.

Well they’ve slammed the thick book shut, closed up the engine shroud and waved us
on out. Medan, then Singapore here I come.

Next to me in the plane to Medan, which flew like a dream, sat a certain Mr. Kilay of
Mustard Seed International on his way to Nias. I had packed several water purifiers
hoping for this sort of connection as Medan is in the main supply route to Nias. Mr.
Kilay gave me his card and promised to deliver the purifiers quickly to refugees in
Nias.

At the Indonesian embassy in Singapore I am relieved to see they maintain chaos of
the same consistency as in Indonesia. I waited there most of two whole days before
discovering the big secret to expediting the process.

Here in Singapore, the double decker buses, travelers from around the globe, Gucci,
Rolex, Armani, the small tremors they call quakes and beer make apparent just how
isolated Aceh is from the world, as if stuck in time. It was nice to take a breather from
disaster and take in some smashing live Jazz, but on this my final night, with sixty-day
visa in hand, the bright lights and beautiful shoppers only increase my desire to be
back in Aceh and see those boats finished. Medan, then Aceh here I come.

In the plane to Aceh I was pleasantly surprised to get the seat in front of none other
than Yoss of Jogjakarta. We hugged and slapped backs then switched seats with the
other passengers and sat next to each other. He had been to Nias and pulled many
bodies directly from the rubble and now was returning to Aceh to head up a
reconstruction project. Sharing a taxi into town, along the same route Yoss and I once
took facing a wave of fleeing headlights, it is gratifying to see the smiling faces and
cows in the road. Lying here sinking into this overly soft mattress, watching the geckos
defy gravity as they crisscross the walls and ceiling, it feels good to be back in Aceh.
Journal Entries - Click to
Read:

16 April 2006 - Eddie

22 January 2006 - Eric

27 September 2005 - Eric

6 September 2005 - Eddie

1 August 2005 - Eddie

28 July 2005 - Eddie

4 July 2005 - Aaron

16 June 2005 - Aaron

19 May 2005 – Eric

18 May 2005 - Aaron

24 April 2005 – Aaron

14 April 2005 – Eric

29 March 2005 – Eric

28 March 2005 - IM-Aaron/Eric

26 March 2005 – Eric

25 March 2005 – Eric

15 March 2005 – Aaron

16 March 2005 – Eric

11 March 2005 – Eric

3 March 2005 – Eric

27 February 2005 – Eric

23 February 2005 – Aaron

23 February 2005 – Eric

20-22 February 2005 – Eric

18 February 2005 – Eddie

18 February 2005 – Eric

16 February 2005 – Eddie

10-12 February 2005 – Eric

12 February 2005 – Eddie

11 February 2005 – Aaron

10 February 2005 – Eddie

9 February 2005 – Eddie

7 February 2005 – Eddie

5 February 2005 – Eddie

5 February 2005 – Part 2 –
Eddie

4 February 2005 – Eddie

2 February 2005 – Aaron

1 February 2005 – Eddie

30 January 2005 – Eric
Boat ribs progress
Journal Entries
Journal Entries
Singapore at dusk
Lampoh Daya Village Project
Cows in traffic
Azhari and Hazan smile
Boat in progress