Today, our group had one big goal; find someone from the government who wants to talk to us, which is one last essential part for our research. Little did we know, we had a challenging day ahead of us. Multiple meetings and some… interesting encounters. Some to really laugh about, and some maybe a bit less.
The first government office we were at, was really open, had a lot of interest in our subject and we had a nice conversation there. The lady we talked to, told us to visit another office, in charge of investments on the island. We walked in the direction, not knowing it was further than we thought. Another woman approached us and told us she could drop us off there, and we arrived there safe and sound. This is where it got really interesting for us. The first few minutes were fine, but when we talked to the head of this department, he asked us why we did not send a letter before we got there, so we could visit some properties etc. This really confused us. Were we buying land now? I realized this person did not understand what we needed and we better leave before we spend a bit above our budget… We left the building kind of confused, laughing about what had just happened. We decided we just go to the traditional village near Waikabubak, which was different from what I expected it to be.
On the way to the village, we were followed by an old man in camouflage clothing. At first we thought it was fine, because this happens a lot as we are the odd ones out almost everywhere on the island. But he did not leave us. He even started touching some of us, which for me is where I draw a line. Someone along the street approached me and tried to touch my face, which was not comfortable. I thought that when we would arrive to the village, this would be over but it got worse. The people were coming to us immediately, asking for money and wanting us to buy stuff. I was starting to feel really uncomfortable, felt out of place and tried to get away. The old man was still following us, but he eventually led us back to our hotel. Although the village looked really beautiful and I was really interested in it, I was very happy to be back at our hotel in the end…
This day showed me that there are positives and negatives about the days here, but in the end it all works out and we are still loving our stay here. Every day is a new adventure and that is exactly how we do it here; live by the day!
Written by: Aafke