Monday, June 21, 2010

The longest day...

The plan was to head out from Pusuk Buhit to find Ompu Borsak’s son in Pangururan and gradually make our way south to Nainggolan at the southern tip of Samosir Island (across from Balige) and then to return to Pangururan and the land bridge to the mainland and head south to arrive in Muara, a bay west of Balige.

We accomplished that. However, the route was different than expected. From Nainggolan we drove back to Tomok (taking the long route over Pangururan because the road on the shorter trek is apparently bad) and from Tomok, taking the ferry back to Parapat and heading to Muara on the trans-Sumatra highway – again because the road from Pangururan to Muara is apparently bad. In both cases, we took the longer but apparently faster way. I am deeply sorry to not have been able to have seen all the landscapes. I promised myself to take a boat in the future. How much more pleasant the journey would have been in a boat!  Just as in the old days when the great dug-out canoes transported the Batak and their market wares criss cross over the lake. (Large  market boats still sail, but they are too slow for my current purposes.)

However, the spirits of Toba were once again guiding our day. In Balige, we had to make an unexpected stop at my old haunt, the nurse’s residence, which was my pied-a-terre in 1979-80. My photographer had developed such a severe toothache that he needed medical attention. Luckily we were in Balige when he announced that he needed care and the town played the same role as it had played for me in the past, offering care and guidance. My thoughts went back to Nuria Gultom, Ibu Hutabarat, in my day the heads of the residence and the nurses’s training; to Dr. Westerhausen, the kind Germany doctor then in residence. (As the fates have willed it, she phoned me unexpectedly just before my departure to Indonesia because she had purchased a copy of Legacy. The book keeps bringing me in touch with my past.)  My mind also went back to my attack of dysentery, and other medical issues that occasionally brought me back by boat from Harian Boho to Balige. My debt to the hospital in Balige is huge – and continues to grow! In no time, Mas Nashir had visited the hospital’s dentist and had a handful of medicine. We had dinner in Balige and pushed on in the dark to make our destination.

From the turn-off to Muara, the road has been immensely improved and although it was dark, the journey was not too harrowing. Our hotel is new and comfortable. I am hopeful that Mas Nashir will be recovered enough to be able to perform today with his regular spirit and energy.

(Ah! A text message from Mas Nashir. He is up and about, fresh from a good night’s sleep, taking photographs of the sunrise downstairs! Once again, our hotel is on the edge of the great lake.)

Yesterday, our day was long and successful, but I only disposed of 4 books and I would have liked to have had occasion to give more away. More about those gifts anon.

Today, we hope to find the women in the opening photograph in Legacy, the ones with the happy faces. Yesterday, we visited the market in Nainggolan and I saw several textiles there from Muara, so I know there is still active weaving here. Hopefully, we will be able to fill our goals here, if the spirits of Toba are willing.

Pages 10, 11 - fig. Acknowledgements 2 Weavers in Muara. 1986.

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