Monday, May 30, 2005

If At First You Don't Succeed...

Thurday 5/27/2005: Banda Aceh

Well, we got up today at 6 in the morning. The ferry opens at 8 AM and we wanted to get there before it opened. We were in line at 6:45. It actually looked pretty good for us. We were about the fourth car. And then it started. Our driver was outside away from the car smoking and several cars totally pushed in front of us… with no regard for anyone… just butted in. They were followed by two Indonesian Army personnel movers. The TNI (army) is notorious for pushing to the head of the line… and since they all have live clips in their weapons, you let them! So we’re waiting…You think… no biggie, just two or three cars… but under the best conditions, it takes about thirty minutes for the ferry to load a truck or cars and cross the river and make it back. That means that four vehicles cutting can add an hour and a half to our wait. And then to top it off, the ferry broke down on the other side of the river. After about four hours waiting, the cars that had rudely cut in front of us finally got on the ferry. It proceeded to break down again… but this time, to my delight (I was gleeful because all the vehicles on the broken ferry had cut in front of us), the ferry broke down in the middle of the river. (Trust me… four hours in the hot sun, and the littlest things make you giddy with joy). They tried for over an hour to get the motor started as the ferry slowly drifted towards open sea. After five hours of waiting, with no end in sight, Ricardo made the call and we decided to turn around again and head back to Banda Aceh. But the trip wasn’t a total waste of time. I had several meetings with other NGOs who were also waiting. For example, I met Rizal, the local director of Action Contre La Faim (Action against Hunger), who was going to the same subdistrict as me to implement cash-for-work. I was quite surprised because I was coming at the behest of the UNDP. Well, it turns out that UNDP recommended this sub-district to several NGOs and since ACF will be working in Sampoinit, there’s no reason for us both to be doing cash for work initiatives in the same subdistrict. I’ll wait to see what their experience and reassess once their cash for work is finished to see if the subdistrict still needs our assistance. I’ll definitely be seeing more of him. It turns out that Rizal is my landlord’s nephew and he always stays with his uncle (three doors down) every time he is in Banda Aceh! I also met several people who have vehicles in Calang. They both said that I could hire their vehicle for a few days if I’m down in Calang. Most NGOs travel to Calang my UN helicopter. We had taken the Landcruiser down because we needed to do assessments and I had been told that you can’t find vehicles in Calang. Screw this driving… I’m flying next time.


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