Sunday, March 04, 2007

Monkey Business

Hi everyone! I hope all is well with you.

I have just returned from one of the most exciting field trips yet! Today, Ahmady took Kristin and Jocelyn to a village called Meudheun. It takes about 3 hours to get there by car.

When Ahmady picked us up at the airport, I was riding in the backseat of the van. And I was so busy looking out the window of the van when Ahmady took us around Banda Aceh the a few days ago that I didn't realize until today that something looked very funny. The steering wheel on Ahmady's van is on the wrong side! See what I mean?

Kristin says there are many countries in the world where the steering wheel is on the right-hand side of the dashboard (it is on the left in the United States). I had no idea! As soon as Kristin told me this, I noticed that Ahmady was also driving on the wrong side of the road!

I told Kristin I was afraid we were going to crash. She just smiled and told me that there are also many places in the world where people drive on the left-hand side of the road (in the US, people normally drive on the right-hand side of the road). Who knew!

The road to Meudheun runs along what Kristin calls the "Indian Ocean" coast. Just outside of Banda Aceh, we had to cross a wooden bridge. I was afraid our van would crash into the water below. But we didn't. Whew!

There are LOTS of curves on the road. There were SO many curves in places that I thought I was riding a roller coaster! I also thought we were going to crash in the ocean sometimes!

Don't worry. Kristin made sure she had her seat belt on and that I was in a safe spot at all time!

Kristin told me that she and Jocelyn wanted to go to out today to look at a road project. Kristin says the United States is helping to build a road here that was damaged by the tsunami. She says the road project has been delayed but I did see some construction work while we were in the van.

While we were driving, I saw lots of different animals including goats, chickens, sheep, cows, and ducks. But I also saw some very funny looking cows with BIG horns. Kristin told me they were water buffalo. Cool!

Do you remember when I was in Africa that sometimes we had to stop for the camels in the road? Well today we had to stop a few times to wait for monkeys in the road. That's right, I said monkeys! Can you believe it?

I have never seen so many monkeys in my entire life. The monkeys would come up to the car and make this strange "eek" sound and flash their teeth. Kristin said some of the monkeys were hoping we would give them food. That's why they were not afraid to come near the van. I liked looking at the monkeys, but I was afraid they might snatch me out of Kristin's hand. So she quickly took this picture of me while I was in the car and then put me in a safe place.

Here are some other monkey photos Kristin took. They sure have long tails, don't they?

After what seemed like FOREVER, we finally reached the village of Meudheun. Kristin told me
the earthquake and tsunami damaged many of the homes here.

The road that goes through the village is part of the road the US is going to help rebuild. Kristin told me that most people in Aceh are glad the United States is helping to build the road. But she says some people, like this man and his family, are still waiting for something she calls a "fair price" for the land it will take to make the new road.

I am not sure I really understand what Kristin is talking about. She told me that it is OK if I am confused. She says the road project involves politics and politics is hard to understand. Whew...I am glad she isn't going to test me!

This is Kristin's favorite picture from the village. It is the man's young daughter.

After we left the village, I knew it was going to be a LONG ride home. I wasn't so sure I wanted to spend that much time in the van. But Kristin said if I paid close attention, I might see more monkeys on the road. Guess what? She was right!

We even saw a big black monkey. It looked like a small gorilla!

Ahmady was shocked! He says he has NEVER seen one like this. Kristin took this cool picture of it climbing away in a tree. How AWESOME is this!

After I saw the monkeys, I got very sleepy. So I took a nap for the rest of the car ride back to the hotel. Tomorrow Kristin says we are going on another LONG car ride.

Until next time...