Sumba was our final island. In many ways it is the wild wild east of Indonesia. Like the wild wild west of yesteryears in the United States, Sumba is an arid, rocky, peripheral region with lots of horses and cows and a rough and tumble appraoch to life. Also unique are the many large 4X4 trucks that are needed to navigate the rough roads of the island.
Our united team of faculty and students first flew from Lombok to Bali for a connecting flight to Waingapu, Sumba. On the tarmac in Bali we took a photo of our inter-disciplinary team, before some of the team headed for some R & R on Flores and Komodo.
Flying over flat and vulnerable Kuta, Bali.
Once in Waingapu we set up shop at the newest hotel in town--The Padadita Beach Hotel. It is indeed a beach hotel, but the beach is mostly a large tidal flat.
Mr. Cafe became our place for daily lunch,
First afternoon a group of us did a walk-about through the main part of town, including the port, to check for tsunami evacuation signs and routes. We found nothing.
The Bugis come from southern Sulawesi. They are a seafaring, and one-time pirating people. The Dutch feared their dominance of the sea lanes and purportedly often told their children to be good or the Bugis men (Boogymen) will get them. These days the Bugis have put down roots in many of the port towns of the archipelago.
Unlike other cities we have worked in there is no clear up up and down in Waingapu. There are however lots of small ups and downs so it is hard to know were high ground is. With no signs or gathering places posted, we wondered if this mosque just a few hundred meters gradually up from the port would work as an evacuation point. Later mapping showed it was at a high enough elevation and its 2nd floor is wide open and can hold 1,500 people.
Post evacuation refreshment.
Later that afternoon we went to a traditional neighborhood in Waingapu where they make ikat cloth. Ikat means to tie. Strands of thread are tied/bound with dried long leaves into cool patterns and designs and then dyed with traditional colors or reds, blues (from indigo) and yellows which don't dye the areas that are tied.
Older graves including the rock tables on the right, that were/are part of Sumba's animist tradition (Marapu). When asked I was told that most Christians on Sumba no longer make offerings to ancestors and spirits while others still combine the two belief systems. I've seen good Catholics on neighboring Flores sacrifice a live chick and chicken to a water goddess.
Lots of traditional houses along the way. Other homes have normal roofs. The walls may be made of thatched bamboo, wood planks, cinder block or cement.
We had to borrow the only projector in town from the high school. When asked in our survey and at the beginning of our presentation if the student thought there could be tsunamis in Sumba, almost all said no. When we showed them these two slides based on Dutch records (nine earthquakes since 1716 and 21 tsunamis since 1629), the students began to have a change of heart. They realized that their non-volcanic island could also be hit by earthquakes and tsunamis. Most in Sumba, including one of our hosts who teaches science at the local university, confessed that they didn't think Sumba was vulnerable.
One afternoon we met with officials from the local Disaster Mitigation agency (BPBD). Interesting how many of its officials are women. We showed Anita, the director of the disaster preparedness section, a map that Gilang and BYU student Bryce made with help from me and others showing possible evacuation routes and gathering points.
We used this inundation map for Waingapu to figure out safe places.
From my Instagram post: This morning in Waingapu on the island of Sumba, we made a tsunami presentation to 300 students at the Islamic Jr. High. While watching a short documentary about the 2004 tsunami in Aceh, we noticed the girl in the center of the photo wiping tears from her eyes with the corner of her hijab. As she watched first the devastation of the earth quake and then the coming of the wave she mourned with those who mourn and sorrowed for the hundreds of thousands who died. She and many other students on Sumba now understand that their island is also susceptible to such devastation.
Professor Sarah Hall and her student Amy from UVU attracted quite a gaggle of boys.
The screens in the front posted lyrics to the hymns, scripture references and other images. A woman nicely led the whole meeting except for the main sermon by a man. The Centers of Strength approach to preaching the gospel in new and developing lands means that for now Mormon missionaries in Indonesia will continue to focus on Java--mostly Jakarta, and the Christian cities of Menado and Medan.
While four of us stayed int town to do presentations, two other teams headed to the southeast (removing cores of earth from a lake bed) and south central coasts of Sumba to look for tsunami deposits. They found several layers of sand, a layer of cinders from the Tambora eruption and large rocks rolled ashore by tsunamis.There is both written and geologic evidence of tsunamis in Sumba.