Arriving in Indonesia, the first thing that hits you is the temperature. THE HUMIDITY! Having been born and raised in Scotland, personally I am not used to such a climate. It rains twenty-four seven in the UK and if you are not cold and wet the majority of the time, there is something wrong. The intern team which makes up “The Wonderful Maluku Project” are mainly from Europe, and they too are slowly adapting to the weather conditions. This concept of heavy rain, but persistently hot climate is foreign to many of us. Your body is like a lollipop that melts slowly, but is, at the same time, permanently sticky. Water is our best friend; going through one-to-two 1500ml bottles per day, and the woman who owns the convenience store in Tihulale village, knows us by name now.
Besides the heat, and water consumption there are other new and interesting challenges we encounter daily. We arrived in Tihulale, a rural village located within the tropical forests of West Sarem, from Europe, and South/North America. Back home we had showers that could change temperature from the turn of a handle, or toilets could flush by the push of a button. Almost like magic. Here, in Tihulale, the bucket is your best friend. It replaces the function of the flushing of the toilet, or the water from the shower. While dumping bucket-loads of cold water on top of you, to ensure cleanliness, a little bit shocking at first, there is something refreshing about this unrefined act. Rinsing the hot, humid-stick from a day’s work, with cold water makes you feel fresh. Bucket-showers also offer the opportunity for a mini arm workout, allowing you to lift the weight of the bucket (with water in it) above you head and shoulders. It is a win-win.
The animals are very different here too. Pigs and dogs roam the streets, with the occasional chicken running by – clearly on an important mission. The rooster which is typically meant to crow when the sun rises, signalling for people the time to get up, has inner-body-time-management problems. Much like the people in the village, specific timing is not its strong suit. The rooster enjoys crowing at random intervals throughout the day, and specifically loves to come by the meeting room (where the interns work) in the afternoon and crow to its heart’s content. Maybe the movies misrepresent the function of this bird, and our expectations are unrealistic…but it did strike us as rather odd.
All the challenges and differences, aside, Indonesia and specifically Tihulale, has a lot to offer. Tihulale has remained largely untouched, due to the low traffic of tourists and backpackers. The lush green forests, vibrant in colour, and the stunning crystal clear beaches, also remain largely untouched. When you Google “Indonesia”, a flood of images and videos showing serene nature and tropical wildlife, are displayed on your laptop or phone screen. However, instead of looking at the beauty of Indonesia through a lense, we get to live in paradise each day, and experience the rich and diverse culture Indonesia, and specifically Tihulale has to offer.