Wednesday, June 16, 2010


We are back in the third largest city in Indonesia: Medan and back in Hotel Tiara. If it’s not Viennese waltzes, it is the schmaltzie Bee Gees playing in the Lobby….Gotta get a message to you….! One more hour and… I have to be ready to visit the Sultan’s Palace to see if it is an appropriate activity for our weaver tour next year. Tomorrow, my traveling companion for the tour preparations, Jantine Koobs, will be on a plane heading home to The Netherlands. I will be turning around and heading back to the Batak villages.

My thoughts are not entirely with the end of our pre-tour journey, but with the preparations to leave again for the Batak Villages and the completion of my Back to the Villages project.

Laundry is already done. Possibly I should buy some peanut butter and crackers. It hasn’t been easy being vegetarian here. I have eaten altogether too much capcay and gadogado and ignored the occasional shrimp and chicken bouillon that has found its way into it all.

Negotiations are underway to see if Mas Nashir will join me to photograph the events. He is a Javanese photographer, a friend of my friends Nia and Ismoyo, batik artists in Yogyakarta, and of my new, very interesting and dynamic acquaintances, Irwansyah and his wife, Ritha. The latter professors at the University of North Sumatra are doing what they can to record and revive the tail end of the music traditions of Sumatra.

We have to find the right vehicle and driver to take us to the villages. I am terribly appreciative of our excellent Javanese driver of the past two weeks, Pak Saito (of Narasindo Tours), but I am concerned about bringing him too deeply into the villages where pigs and dogs are eaten; it will make him feel uncomfortable even though he will hide his feelings. Reluctantly, therefore, I am looking for a Batak driver who will enter differently into the spirit of it all. He will undoubtedly bring a new and interesting dynamic to it all. In addition, it will be good for him to learn what we will be learning about the Batak weaving arts.

I am behind on my blogs. I still want to share the happenings in the Silindung Valley where I was reunited, at long last, with my closest Batak families. First, however, the Sultan’s Palace is on the agenda.

See Back to the Villages - the map!

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