Saturday, March 03, 2007

Ship Out of Water

Hi everyone. I hope all is OK in Iowa. Kristin told me it snowed in Iowa in the past few days. It is very HOT here and right now it is pouring down rain.

Today I got my first tour of Banda Aceh. It was very interesting.

A very nice journalist named Ahmady is driving Kristin and Jocelyn around during this trip. This morning he took Kristin to a bank so she could change money. But the bank didn't like most of Kristin's money. Can you believe that? I thought US dollar bills could be spent anywhere in the world! Kristin says that some countries only like certain US bills. I had no idea!

Here they don't like dollars printed in 1996 or any of the new colored US dollars. The bank also didn't like the wrinkles in Kristin's money. I'm not sure I understand why (and I'm not sure Kristin even understands why).

I was very worried at the bank when Kristin could only change a small portion of her money into the local currency, the Indonesian Rupiah. How was Kristin going to pay for food and her hotel room? Kristin later told me not to worry too much. She has other ways to pay for the hotel and food. Whew!

Once Kristin had some local money, Ahmady took her to get a special chip for her cell phone. The chip is called a "SIM card" and now Kristin has an Indonesian cell phone number. How cool is that? But Kristin told me that she will only use the phone in case of an emergency. I guess that means I can't call Aunt Lynn. :(

Ahmady then took Kristin and Jocelyn on a tour of Banda Aceh. Kristin told me a big wave from the ocean called a tsunami washed away lots of houses and buildings here in 2004. She said the wave was SO big that huge boats were pushed into homes. I didn't believe her until I saw this.

WOW! Can you see how that very big boat crashed into that house? Kristin says this house is one mile from the Indian Ocean. I can't even imagine how big the wave must have been to push the boat that far from the ocean.

The house with the boat on top of it is near the fish market. A woman living near the market was selling octopus. They sure didn't smell good. And I don't think I would want to eat one, would you?

I think it is sad that so many people lost their homes during the tsunami. So I felt better when Kristin told me there are many people from around the world (including the US) here to help people rebuild their homes and businesses.

During our tour of town, I saw small wooden houses that Ahmady said were "temporary." I also saw small colorful houses that Ahmady said were brand new. You can see an example of a "temporary" and a new home in the photo below.

About an hour outside of Banda Aceh, I saw a lot of tents with blue tops next to the road. Kristin says the people living in the tents are still waiting for a "temporary" house.

I asked Kristin how long it would take for these people to get a "temporary" house. She says she has no idea. I think Kristin could tell I was very said when she said this. She told me the best thing I could do was to be thankful that I have a nice home in Iowa. She is right. But I wish the people living in tents in Aceh also had nice homes.

On our way back into Banda Aceh, Ahmady stopped at a beach on the side of the road. There was another BIG ship that was stuck in the sand. Ahmady says the ship has been stuck in the sand since the tsunami.

I really wanted to swim in the Indian Ocean, but Kristin told me the waves were far too high. Plus she says she didn't bring her bathing suit. :( But she did let me play in the sand and look for seashells.

Here I am at sunset along the beach. Kristin says the sky reminds her of the sunsets in Muscatine. I guess I'm going to have to pay better attention to the sunsets in Muscatine when I get home.

That's all for now. Until next time....