Friday, January 23, 2009

The Men Who Went Up a Hill...

Glen and I began our radio installation inspections today. We started with the main Red Cross chapter in Banda Aceh where we noted several things that need to be fixed and improved. From there we went to the Banda Aceh Red Cross chapter to do inspection number 2. As I was walking into the building an elderly Indonesian man came over and stood in front of me and said “You like Obama?” When I responded that I was delighted in our new President his face lit up, he thrust out his hand for a firm handshake, and said “You good man! Obama good.”

We finished work at noon and because this is Friday we had to allow 2 hours for all of the local staff to go the mosque for special Friday prayers. Glen and I used the time to catch up on some paperwork.

In the afternoon the real fun began. We decided to do one more check and travel to a repeater installation at a place called Mata Ie. A repeater is a specialized radio installation that takes a signal on one frequency and rebroadcasts it on another frequency to extend the range of the network. They are usually installed on the top of a telecom tower. All of you pass by them everyday probably without noticing. As we drove out of town we would see a tower ahead and think it was ours only to drive on by. Several kilometers later we entered an army controlled area and Pak Edho, our IT Technician, got out and let them know we were going up to our tower.

A climb in the car up a steep hill then we pulled off to the side of the road. We had left the urban area far behind and we were now in the wilds. When I asked Pak Edho where our repeater was installed he pointed straight up towards the top of the hill. A series of concrete steps disappeared behind some shrubs. We were then told it was 600 steps!! And it was hot. And we hadn’t brought any water!! I really think no one but Glen and I wanted to make the climb. 

Off we went and it was a tad strenuous (how out of shape am I!) but we made it to the base of the 120’ tower. The climb reminded me of some of the steepest sections of the Great Wall with more foliage and less wall! Glen and I looked up at the top of the tower where our repeater was installed and declared (or I may have gasped) “That installation looks good!”. After some photos and a pause to regain our breath we retraced our steps down the path and drove back to the office. On the drive back down the hill I saw a monkey sitting on the side of the road. When I pointed and exclaimed “Monkey!” in the hopes I could get a photo, no one batted an eye, the car didn’t slow down, and Pak Edho said “You’ll see lots of them!” And we did... but no photos... yet!

Dinner at a very good Chinese restaurant and a get-together with some of the other AmCross staff ended a great day. Now to bed to rest the legs!!

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