Sunday, January 27, 2013

Indonesia, where nothing gets tossed...

kota ternate, ternate, maluku, tidore
The view from our hotel in Kota Ternate
Well, nothing might be a bold classification. They surely throw empty drink bottles and candy wrappers away. None-the-less, their flare for reuse is astounding. We should take notice of their ingenuity before we deem something trash.

They don't just reuse old clothes and cars, they make houses out of reused cinder blocks, they cover roofs with reused tin sheets and construct road-side stands out of scrap wood. They cook food on sidewalks in hundred year old pans and will spend hours, days fixing boat motors before sending out for a new part. I'm not sure of the safety merits of these practices -- I'm sure the old cinder blocks are a bad idea -- but the idea that everything old can be used for something new certainly could add a bit of stability to this old planet's future.

A warung, or sidewalk restaurant, in Sorong, West Papua. 

The view from an old Portuguese fort in Kota Ternate. 
 We just got back from a 3 week trip to the other side of the world -- specifically Indonesia -- and I was in total awe of their stuff-saving abilities. Though traveling from New York City to a developing nation is more than just culture shock (body shock, eye shock, skin shock, sleep shock, language shock, stomach shock...okay, I'll stop now) it is ultimately inspiring.

This is actually an old Spanish fort in Tidore which an old Indonesian man has turned into a farm. This is the edge of his corn field. 
The geography of Indonesia is stunning and so are the people. In addition to the general population being statistically beautiful, they also smile a lot....all the everyone...especially foreigners. It is that full-faced kind of smiling that people practice when they really mean to make you feel good as they stare at you. It is the kind of gigantic smiling that people on the street practice when they genuinely are happy to see you, a stranger, for some strange reason. It is kind of awesome.

Questionably old artifacts in Jakarta. 
We didn't buy much while we were there -- it wasn't really a souvenir kind of trip, mostly because there are very few places to buy souvenirs -- I did manage to pick up a hand-woven basket for my parents, just like those that the local ladies use to hold their fruits in the market and two pieces of gorgeous batik clothing for myself and the guy. Mostly we just walked around astounded by what we were looking at. It is a seriously beautiful place. Seriously.

An antique market in Jakarta.