Different worlds, same Facebook

28 July 2016
Femke Lobach

DSC06447‘Hello princess.’

‘Please can we take picture?’

‘Pirang, pirang.’

‘Selemat Pagi’

I can’t take more than ten steps on the streets of Tual without someone shouting, waving or smiling at me. I feel younger and prettier than my age and only because of my blond hair.

There are hardly any tourists on these beautiful islands of Kei or Kota Tual. The people of Tual are
happy to see us. The difference between today and the first visitors of thirty years ago is that they still shout wave and smile but today they also make pictures for, guess wDSC06485hat, Facebook. I must have been posted on at least a hundred pages. They take the pictures sneaky, seemingly of a nice sunset or fishing boat and I am accidently in it. It is incredibly funny more so as I tend to do the same with them. ‘Pirang, pirang’ they shout ‘blond hair’. Children either want to touch my hair or are afraid to do so.

I met Ebby, she speaks English fluently and a little Dutch. Her husband was the district leader of one of the island districts. She is very welcoming and warm. Her husband died just recently. She is a strong woman and she is keeping the memory of her husband alive through his work. Her life is so much different from ours, as her family moved in to support her. Community and family ties are very strong here. For us in our Western civilized world this no longer comes naturally. We shared the stories about our lives. She has a sister who lives in Purmerend. I end up with a package of empale, local food, that I will bring to her sister.

DSC06574Today we went to the little village of Durao. The women of the village cooked a local meal for us, wonderful Indonesian food with a smile. Within no time I am sitting with the women and children of the village around me. We talk, well I speak English and they speak Indonesian. It doesn’t matter. We laugh and care. I can’t believe how friendly they are. I draw my house, my country, a windmill, and our sailing yacht in the sand and I teach them the English word for it. They start repeating it after me, so sweet. How I love these people, this village. And once again I wish I could stay and teach English forever but we are leaving.

Bye bye little village, ‘bye bye pirang bulu’ the children wave and shout. Our little motorboat leaves and the village disappears behind the horizon.



2 comments to “Different worlds, same Facebook”

  1. Noor van Liebergen says:

    Prachtig Fem, mooie naam voor je: piang pirang!

  2. Olga says:

    Mooi verhaal, hartverwarmend. En daar gaan jullie weer, met een pakketje voor sister in Purmerend.