Things got back on the positive side of the ledger as we finished our work at the Aceh Selatan PMI chapter in Tapaktuan and both the HF and the VHF radios worked fine. I took some time and set up the bad radio from Singkil just for a test and, lo and behold, it worked just fine The problem back in Singkil must have been the antenna. The PMI technician will have to replace it on his next visit.
On the way to our next stop in Blangpidie we passed by the home of Sayad one of the PMI technicians that are along on this trip. He invited us to stop because he wanted to get us fresh coconuts. No sooner had we climbed out of the vehicles when Sayed shot up to the top of a tall coconut tree and started throwing down coconuts into a small stream that ran in front of his home. An older man who I later learned was Sayed’s father hopped down into the stream to retrieve the coconuts. Two other men with knives then hacked off the tops and bottoms of the coconuts, made a hole in one end, and handed them to us to drink the freshest coconut milk you can get. After the milk was gone they split the coconuts in two, handed us spoons, and we scooped out the flesh from inside – delicious. A cup of sweet Aceh coffee followed and we were well refreshed for the rest of the journey. What a treat! Definitely one of those moments that makes me realize how lucky I am to have this opportunity.
The area around Sayed’s home was very beautiful. They are a little inland from the sea and are surrounded by rice paddies with high hills rising in the background. His father told us that it looks peaceful now but 10 years ago during the separatist war between the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and the Indonesian government it was a very dangerous area with soldiers from both sides firing from the surrounding hills.
In the afternoon we stopped at the Aceh Barat Daya (aka Abdya) chapter and were told the radio had been broken over a year ago and that no one had replied to their requests for help until we arrived. It took them about 30 minutes to locate all of the parts and then it took us about an hour to get the radio operational again. I think they were pleased.
Tonight we’re staying in Blangpidie and then tomorrow we head to Jeuram to the PMI Nagan Raya branch before heading to Meulaboh for the night.