Terima kasih!

Someone pointed out to me recently that, based on my blog posts, it seems I have an altogether negative view of the things I’ve experienced while in Indonesia. It is true that I have focused mainly on the travesties of public transport, corruption, and environmental destruction in my blogs. I blame this on my Seinfeld sense of humor, in which one uses comedy as a way of understanding the parts of life equivalent to bags of dog shit left in your bicycle basket. (This is not a canonized metaphor or anything, just an experience I can relate to.) And unfortunately, I sometimes find it hard to talk about the wonderful things I’ve seen without sounding cliché. Often I couldn’t even find the words to describe the feeling of delirious, stupid-grin joy that came along with them. So as I sit here thousands of miles from Java, doing Western things like exposing my knees and flushing toilet paper, I will try to create a list of the best things I can recall from my two months in Indonesia:

  • Sitting cross-legged on front porches drinking local, shade-grown coffee as the firework crow of a Javan hawk-eagle splinters the air
  • Whipping around mountain roads on the back of an ojek, with a view of terraced rice paddies, organized like a batik pattern, and tail-flicking water buffalo
  • A man that created a Personal Hotspot for me when I needed Wi-fi, and then introduced me to his daughters over a slice of cheesy-bite pizza
  • The Chinese store owner from San Francisco that empathized with our stomach problems while we frantically picked out batik fabric
  • A baby gibbon with a rounded belly and the longest eyelashes I’ve ever seen on an animal
  • A certain woven hammock at a rescue center that was perfectly distanced from the mosque, making the Call to Prayer float over the valleys like a hollow wind
  • Yogyakarta and pesto spaghetti and goat cheese crepes and red wine and ice cream espresso and vegan burritos
  • Two Indonesian sisters that finally understood our aversion to photographs with strangers, and helped us shout Tidak photo! as we wound our way, hands clasped, through a market
  • My disbelief at my first sighting of a slow loris, whose eyes I was convinced were kids with two burning flashlights up a tree
  • Long nights of Kabu and charades accompanied by a stream of French rap played over YouTube
  • Chopping buckets of fruits and vegetables for rescue animals while a Dutch psychotherapist and volunteer gently explained away all of life’s problems
  • The tree-sheltered streets of Bandung, decorated with colorful charms and windchimes
  • Chanting Just say yes! as a man who called himself Superman led us, sweaty and losing hope, to an unknown destination (which turned out to be a batik art studio where I spent a disastrous amount of money)
  • Laughing through the delirium that comes along with lack of sleep and having nothing sane left to talk about
  • The blissful calm that is an Indonesian man with a cigarette, casually and cross-legged observing his world
  • The satisfaction of hearing a langur alarm call, which means that you may only get a glimpse of their shaggy black tail but that they are still wholly wild

And finally:

  • Sadhbh Wouldyougoonouttaherewiththat! Quinn: for her fierce love of Irish culture and warrior princess headbands
  • Nam’s Naan Money: for her cooking abilities and affinity for some hostel in the woods in Georgia
  • Ibu Lina Fransson: for her much-needed hugs, encouragement in song form, and eloquent morning conversations
  • Mumu “Smart Cookie” Vergniol: for her heroic rescue of Aubergine the moth and the four months it took to choose a movie for Mopie Night
  • Joshua Steven Theopillus: for being my travel buddy and cat whisperer and because he likes using his full name
  • Sharon All I Do Is Win McCabe: for sticking with me through the “Americans write the number 6 differently” fiasco
  • Alex Shitty cat! Duverneuil: for teaching us French swear words and almost breaking the coffee table with his card-tapping abilities
  • Abdullah Langgeng, aka Oneng’s adopted father: for climbing 400 steps with me and driving through Garut in the pouring rain
  • Sarah, Josh, and Francesca: for almost choking to death on volcanic sulfur dioxide for my research and bringing Britain back into my life a few weeks early
  • Professor Tom Lloyd: for our academic conversations and his love of creative writing
  • Aconk Hey motherfucker Ahmad: for his candid photography sessions from across the street, his dog Nipples, and, of course, his hair
  • Pak Dendi Rustandi: for laughing at me as I slid down the muddy mountain on my butt for my first and only night observation
  • Yiyi, Rahmat, and Adin: for kicking all of our asses at Kabu and making sure our house continues to function
  • Wita Women strong! Astika: for long life talks on the motorbike and her ability to immediately make friends with strangers
  • Eka I touch dog for first time! Kartini: for talking me through my first night in Indonesia and generally doing things her own way

You guys rock.

Kelsey, Volunteer

You won’t regret it!

During my interview for LFP, I remember hearing the Sharon, LFP’s field station coordinator, tell me that the site in West Java was more of an agroforest than real forest. Thinking that the site would be similar to the lush deciduous forest of Northen Thailand that was also classified as agroforest, which I had visited last summer for an internship at an elephant sanctuary, I was astonished at the state of the habitat of the slow lorises in Cipaganti. No amount of reading about deforestation and looking at pictures could have prepared me for the real thing. Though I am well versed in the deforestation that is rampant all over the world, this is my first time witnessing its very real and devastating consequences face to face. Back at the Thai elephant conservation project last summer, the face of deforestation took the form of rolling fields of bare soil resultant from burning down the forest to grow corn. However, there still appeared to be a good bit of forest left for the elephants to roam. On the surface, this site is not so different from Cipaganti, where the loris habitats encompass vast fields of tea, coffee, and various vegetables. Yet, the disparities lie in the fact that the lorises are forced to live in much smaller areas of forest, which are infinitely more broken up and fragmented than the elephant forests of Thailand. It is truly devastating.

The Little Fireface Project is a glimmer of hope in this sea of devastation. All of the volunteers and staff bond over our shared hope that things will get better for the lorises. It is a breath of fresh air from the rest of society, both Western and Eastern. Everyone here just gets it. We are from all over the world, yet we are united in our laughter, and most importantly our understanding of the real diseases with which humans are plaguing Earth. Everyone gets that our species is the one that have created so many challenges for our fellow earthlings. They get that humans are also part of the solution to at least begin to revert the devastation we have caused. It is certainly a nice change to be around people who are all genuinely working towards the same goal of helping protect animals. Sadly, my time here has flown. With only 3 weeks remaining as part of this wonderful team, I can’t help but feel confused as to where all the time went. I will never get used to the site of seeing the lorises gracefully and acrobatically traverse through the trees. This experience will always be lodged into my memory.

My advice for anyone who is interested in coming to LFP: apply, you won’t regret it. If you can’t make the trip all the way to Indonesia, you can also be part of the solution. My advice to you is to eat local, and go vegan.

  • Nam
  • Volunteer