English | Dutch
I prefer Nasi-goreng
Poso (Indonesia), September 19th 2008

It is seven-thirty in the morning and we enter with the taxi the Petobo bus station of the Palu, a city in central Sulawesi. We look at each other surprised and ask the taxi driver, just to be sure, if this is really the Petobo bus station. There are no buses on the bus station, and that is very rare in Indonesia, especially at this time of the day. The taxi driver assures us that this is really the right bus station, and drives one time around it to determine where he will drop us. He stops at a very small bus office, and indeed, when we look carefully at the dusty sign of the bus company, we see that also the name Wuasa is mentioned in the list of destinations. And Wuasa is our destination for today. We take our back packs from the taxi, pay for the ride, and say goodbye to the driver. Wuasa is a very small village in the heart of Lindu Lore National Park, and one of the places one can use to visit the park.

In the bus office is a girl of approximately fourteen years old. She turns out to be the ‘manager’ of this office. She tells us that there will be a shared jeep to Wuasa at 10.00 am, if there are enough passengers. We decide to wait and take a seat in the corner of the small office. After approximately fifteen minutes, we get company of an older man. We guess that his age is around seventy years old, and he introduces himself as Wito. He speaks good English and turns out to be a very friendly and interesting person. He is not a passenger, but somebody who lives in one of the government-owned buildings on the bus station. He tells us that he has a wife, children and even grand-children, but that they are living on Java. When we ask why he lives so far away from his love ones, he is not clear about it. We talk about a lot of other things, but when the name of the late former president Soekarno is mentioned, the conversation gets an interesting turn. Soekarno was an army general that led Indonesia to its independence in 1949, after they kicked out the Dutch. He became the first president of independent Indonesia, but ruled the country with iron fist. The democracy, if there was a matter of it, disappeared quickly and his reign was characterised by power abuse, violence, mismanagement, confrontation with neighbouring countries and self enrichment. The army was always an essential ally, also making a lot of money from corruptive activities. This all continued till 1965, the moment that another group of military people, led by General Suharto, thought that is was enough. Their successful coup d’état brought General Suharto in the drivers seat, which was the beginning of even more terrible decades for most of the Indonesian people. Suharto was worse, and especially more violent, than from president Soekarno.

Loading of the jeep that will bring us to Wuasa

Soekarno is already dead for many years, but he is still very popular in Indonesia. The Indonesian people seem to be forgotten what he did to them, and see him mainly as the nationalistic leader that brought them the independence. Also Wito is a follower of Soekarno. His believe in him is so strong, that he even wants to deny that Soekarno is dead. More strongly, he even tells us that he saw Sukarno for the last time, a little bit more than a month ago, here in Palu! This is probably one of the reasons why he decides to live here, far away from his wife and children. Subsequently he tells us that Soekarno also visited Palu once in a while during the period that he still was the president of Indonesia. The story goes that when he was flying to Palu for one of his visits, he saw a huge city, from the plane, located in the middle of the jungle of Sulawesi. The city was even bigger than New York. Soekarno told the pilot to make a landing in this city, to see what is going on. The city seemed to be very rich, mainly because of the steel-wood that was extracted from the jungle around the city. Since this story goes around, many people tried to find this secret city, so far without positive result.

As a continuation of this talk, he asks us who the boss of the United Nations is. “Ban-Ki-Moon, the Korean guy”, is what we answer simultaneously. “No, he is the secretary-general and not the president”, says Wito firmly. We tell Wito carefully that we think that the UN has no president, only a secretary-general. But Wito does not agree. He says without any doubt that a huge organisation like the UN needs to have a president. And there is only one person in the world that can lead an organisation like the UN … Soekarno! “Another proof that Soekarno is still alive”, says Wito jubilant. For a couple of seconds we do not know what to say. But fortunately, we are saved by a jeep that is arriving at the office. It is the jeep that will bring us to Wuasa. We jump up, put our back packs in the jeep, say goodbye to Wito and start with the ride to Lore Lindu National Park.

Ivonne and Wito
Three hours later, we arrive in Wuasa. The village is indeed nothing more than one street with some building along it. The pension where we planned to stay is full, because a group of birdwatchers checked in. “Damn birdwatchers” is what we say to each other while we are walking to the only alternative place to stay in the village. The other pension has a room left, but is asking a price that is really ridiculous. We do not want to be treated like a milk cow, so we decide to refuse the offer. And because there is no other place to stay in Wuasa, there is only one option; going back to Palu. The prices in the villages that are frequently visited by birdwatchers are very inflated. The birdwatchers often come on an organised tour of a couple of weeks to Sulawesi to see as much birds a possible. And the problem is that they really don’t care about prices. They pay whatever is necessary to be as close as possible to the birds. We are probably too much on principle again, but decide to go back to Palu. Lore Lindu is surely a nice park, but too expensive for what you get, at least for us. We take a position besides the only road through the village, in the hope to find transport back to Palu. Transport on this road is rare en infrequent. After more than thirty minutes waiting, our patience is rewarded. A small white Mitsubishi minivan stops. When we take a look in the bus, our opinion is that the bus is already jam-packed. But the tendency of Indonesian people to pack a bus as full as really possible is our luck today. The passengers are asked to squeeze a little bit more, to make two more ‘seats’ available on the last bench. We try to find our way through the jam-packed minibus to reach our seats. Edwin must fold his legs several times to fit in the tiny place that is left after Ivonne reached her seat. The other passengers giggle when they observe how a two-metre tall guy tries to find its place in the bus. After we gave the driver the sign that we reached our spot, the Mitsubishi minivan starts moving again, moving towards Palu.

The minivan is too heavy loaded. On the plane road, there is no problem. But as soon as we try to find our way through the mountains, the speed of the minivan falls back to ‘walking-speed’. But this doesn’t spoil the fun in the van. The passengers have the time of their lives, especially because they share the van with a long white bold guy, and a girl with pair of glasses and a pony tail. After we tell them that we are from The Netherlands, the driver starts grabbing in the dashboard box in search for an audio tape. Within a minute, the following text (in Dutch!) blares from the loudspeakers:

I prefer Nasi-goreng …
… with a fried egg sunny-side-up.
With sambal and some krupuk …
… and a nice glass beer on top.

We never heard this song before in The Netherlands, but for some reason it seems to be quite popular here in Sulawesi. And in spite of the fact that they do not speak Dutch, they sing the song with full devotion. These friendly people in the bus today, compensate a lot for the disappointment that we are not going to visit Lore Lindu National Park. So eventually, this day became one of the nicest days of our visit to Sulawesi so far.

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