Thursday, February 5, 2009

Mountains and Trees...

On Wednesday and Thursday we spent the day in Takengon in the central highlands of Aceh. It was a spectacular drive up and back on a twisty two lane road that had some major washouts in the first 20 km or so. After that the road improved and wasn’t bad but the going was slow due to the many trucks making their way up the mountain.

In Yellowstone Park, years ago, Ann had bought a t-shirt with the slogan “Mountains and Trees are Good for the Soul” imprinted on it. The trip up to the mountains reminded me of it as there is definitely something restorative about high country. The views and the cool, clean mountain air are good for you. If only we had time for a hike!! The forest is nothing close to back home as it’s heavily dotted with palm trees. It’s really more of a jungle. The strangest thing was the lack of any wildlife. We saw minimal birds and nothing much else. Perhaps they have the good sense to stay away from roads with the trucks belching black smoke! :-) It was a little hazy but there were some beautiful vistas to see.

On Wednesday we went to the Aceh Tengah branch to check their HF and VHF radios. As we pulled in to the car park we could see no HF antenna. We asked the leader where the radio was and his response was “in the boxes”. A good project lay ahead as we had to install the complete radio system: Radio, power supply, mast, antenna, cabling and programming.

During part of the installation we needed to lower the mast to make one correction. Glen explained what he wanted and seconds later one of the local Red Cross team had shinnied to the top of the mast, made the fix, and climbed down. Glen made a comment that he was quick as a monkey and discovered that everyone knew the word ‘monkey’ and then joked with the climber.

Yesterday we drove down out of the mountains to rejoin the heat in Bireuen then back home to Banda Aceh. On the way we paused for a few minutes to feed some monkeys and to get a photo of an Indonesian elephant beside the road.

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