RDA office repairs & quick visit to Segenter
Building in Lombok is never easy, but it can be a very fun and rewarding experience! The hardest thing I find, apart from the language barrier, is locating the materials and equipment needed to do a job. Where as in other places you can go to a large hardware or DIY store and buy everything at once, here you can spend a morning trying to locate the right sized screw, or a washer, or a bag of cement! Thankfully I’m blessed with some amazing friends in Bayan, who help me with everything. They are the kindest and most neighbourly people I’ve ever met.
Repairing the road…
Today was spent making some reinforced cement blocks, that will form a small bridge at the entrance to our office here in Senaru. I say Senaru, but we’re actually in Batukok, a kilometer or so down the hill from the traditional village of Senaru. In the morning I went with my friend Ogut to Ancek, where we managed to track down steel and the wood. Unfortunately they were out of cement, so we had to venture further afield – out towards the coast. There was some in Anyar, but it had already been laid claim to by someone else! On to Sukadana, but the same story – no cement! Apparently a lot of building goes on at this time of year!
We took a detour, as Ogut wanted to show me the traditional village of Segenter. It had been a few years since he was last here, and he was surprised by the changes that had taken place. Traditional homes of mud walls and grass (Alang-Alang) roofs were slowly being replaced by more contemporary structures. He seemed a bit disappointed with this modernization, but I suppose they are an improvement for the people actually living there. I try to take a balanced view when it comes to the development of “developing countries”. Yes, it’s interesting and aesthetically pleasing to observe people living “primitively”; following ancient traditions, believing old creeds; but to try to preserve this for the amusement of tourists is a tad imperialistic (in a inverse sense of the word). There are definitely lessons to be learned from other parts of Indonesia, however. The over-development and cultural erosion evident in Bali is something I hope Lombok escapes. The phrase “sustainable development” is often banded about by environmentalists, politicians, & developers seeking approval for a project. At the moment I sense it is more a catchphrase than genuine aim. Although Indonesia has legislation to protect beaches, marine life, etc (some of which is more stringent than in European nations), it is rarely enforced to an adequate standard. Anyway, I digress…
In the end we managed to get hold of some cement and sand. After an hour or two of midday torrential rain we set-about mixing it, and making the blocks. Awol, a great friend and accomplished mountain guide, came to help with his brother, Chrishna. Aef (RDA’s man in the office) and Sebot were also on hand with wheelbarrows and spades. After a good few hours hard-graft we finished the last block. Awol was of the opinion that they would remain intact until the end of time (we used a pretty strong mix, and a fair bit of steel!). Quite how we’ll manage to lift the two larger ones into place is a problem for tomorrow.