Hi, my name is Tom Lloyd. I’m the latest volunteer here at LFP, originally hailing from Pembrokeshire in (old) South Wales. I’ve always felt very strongly about conservation and I’ve long wanted to find a job where I can work in defence of the natural world. To this end I’ve travelled halfway around the globe to a mountain-side in the middle of Java so that I can get more experience to help me with my job-hunting, and to help the Little Fireface Project with their invaluable work protecting the critically endangered Javan slow loris.
I would just like to share with you some of my first impressions of the remarkable, faraway place in which I have found myself.
The village where I now live, Cipaganti is in an unusual position. It sits in the heart of the most densely populated island in the world, and yet it is incredibly isolated. It is the last village before the summit of the mountain where we work and the roads that wind up its slopes toward the village are ramshackle even by the impressive standards of Indonesia. Our typical method of getting up and down the mountain involves taking an Ojek, a kind of Indonesian motorcycle-taxi. Two months ago I had never even been near a motorcycle so that first time was definitely an experience, and I feel I can safely admit that it took some time for me to be able to unflex my fingers again.
I am happy to say though that up here on the mountain the views alone more than make up for the stresses of public transport. Especially at night, which by a happy coincidence is when we do most of our work. From the heights of our mountain I can see all the way across the valley to our neighbours, the volcano (Mt Guntah) and the towering Mount Papandayan. And between them lie the bright lights of countless small towns and villages, Cipaganti’s neighbours, that shine like constellations against a night sky, circling the sparkling galaxy of Garut, the largest city within sight.
As for Cipaganti itself I imagine I can feel its life, here in the gentle bustle of its resident people and animals. Farmers and traders ferry heavy sacks of carrots and labu to and fro while school children laugh and play on the steps of the mosque. When I walk through the town I am greeted by the sight of cats stalking geckos along the rooftops, skittish toads leap from my path and hens cluck disapprovingly as I pass too close to their chicks. And that is to say nothing of the friendly “Hallo mister!”s and “apa kabar?”s (Indonesia’s ever-present version of “how are you?”) that I receive wherever I go. I have been here only for a short time but I already feel that I have settled in comfortably, and I’m looking forward to learning and experiencing all that I can in the time that I am here.
- Tom Lloyd