I can’t believe our stay at Tuanan is over! It seems like we finally grew accustomed to life in the forest and we are leaving tomorrow morning. I’ve grown so comfortable here, and become close with all of the Rutgers and UNAS students. My sleep schedule has changed drastically, since we wake up every day by 5 AM. I even somewhat got the hang of the Mandi – the Indonesian version of the bathroom. I learned so much about the ecology of the forest, especially about the orangutans. Turns out, most people pronounce ‘orangutan’ incorrectly, even though the proper way sounds quite silly. We hiked a few times, unfortunately most of mine were along the same transect (trail) because of our research project. I chose to study an area of the forest that had been burned in recent months, in comparison with an unburned area. We presented on our findings tonight after our day in the village, probably my favorite day so far.
The education specialist in Tuanan (the village), Maya, came up with the idea for us to build water filters for the village people. We spent the day teaching them how it works, and helping them build their own filters so they can rid the river water of the chemicals that pollute it. I personally loved this project, as the right to safe drinking water is something I spent much time studying last semester. It was amazing for me to be a part of something like this, to personally affect the lives of people who live thousands of miles from me, and in such an important way.
After the water filters were completed, the villagers provided lunch for us, along with songs and dances and henna tattoos. We even played volleyball with them, a pastime which is apparently common considering their skill level. The little girls enjoyed braiding Meg and Michelle’s hair, another thing they were remarkably good at. It was nice to spend time with them after building the water filters, and it was unfortunate that we only enjoyed their company on the last day.
Tomorrow we take will ride down the river again, and spend the day in Palangka raya, as our flight back to Jakarta is not until the following morning.