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A Journey Up River

Oct 25, 2008

Location: Banjarmasin
Author: Kevin Johnsen
7:30 am I find myself sitting in Argo’s cockpit, sipping my coffee (it was a good mug this morning) looking out over the Sumai Banto. The morning started early with a 4:40 am wake up call. Our mission is to take a water taxi up river to a floating market that is supposed to be quite the experience. Our taxi boat arrives and we all pile in along with an Indonesian family already aboard. The vessel is a long canoe type boat common in this area with a very low roof on it. As we cast off I find myself sitting in the middle of the boat with my knees to my chest looking out wide eyed along with the rest of the crew. The plan was to return to Argo by around 9:30am. By 7am we are back. Apparently, within minutes of our departure our water taxi driver deemed the boat unriverworthy, pulled alongside the banks and we all hopped into another water taxi which shuttled us back to Argo. A typical audible out here on Argo. No worries. The late morning turned into an even more exciting experience for six of the crew. With a desire to show our thanks for the generosity and helpfulness of Ahdijah (the local school teacher) who helped so much with provisioning the day before, a small group chosen from a hat set up river once again in our two dinghies. They met back at the school where Ahdijah once again welcomed them with open arms. As a gift we brought Ahdijah a crew shirt, couple of pictures of Argo, and the kids some small balls from our ball bag. The children were all smiles for the camera as the crew were equally eager to take the pictures. Again the crew assembled inside for a combination of food/drink and song/dance. There was an encore request for “little tea pot” but now “hokey pokey” and “Old McDonald” made the list. Afterwards the crew was invited to a party down the road for someone who was leaving for Mecca. Along the way children formed a mob behind the crew waving and yelling loudly purely for the occasion of following a small group of white people (I think it’s safe to say this is not a normal occurrence in this area). At the party, again the crew was welcomed inside their home and offered local food and drink. The reports are that the food was delicious! After visiting for awhile it was time to get back. The local mob of kids followed all the way back to the boat waving and shouting. They said our final thanks to Ahdijah, a most wonderful and hospitable woman. The rest of the day was back to the books for the crew with three classes and two subject videos. We also made Argo ready for passage and plan to set out with the high tide. We have one more stop in Kalimantan, which I’m sure will prove to be even more amazing.