Friday, January 23, 2009

Ambon Musings

Ambon, once the provincial capital of the Malukus I believe, has the tired, despondent feel of an island city marooned on the fringes of civilization. A bit more "rough and tumble" than either Bali or Yogyakarta, there is an air of irascibility that seemed to pulse through Ambon's litter-strewn streets, crowded markets and stereo "bumping" bempos (or local buses). Not unlike Marseilles in France or Napoli in Italy, the city radiates a coarseness befitting a people whose lives are so closely tied to the sea- difficult perhaps but also honest and raw without the pretense or political-correctness so often found in larger cities.

The most apparent manifestation of Ambon's roughshod facade can be found in the men who line the streets and market stalls whistling cat-calls at our female team members and yelling "Mr." at the rest of us. These modern day scalliwags, while harmless, can tax the emotional patience of one such as myself and several times both yesterday as well as this morning have I had to remind myself that I am a guest here and as such subservient to the local customs and norms- regardless of my own personal thoughts on decorum and courtesies. Sweeping generalizations are dangerous and by no means do I claim to have the pulse of Ambon and its people firmly ascribed in but two short days. Still, such are my musings and general impressions of Ambon so far.

Very Best,


Breaking news! We have heard that a riot has occurred at the local market. We are attempting to account for all the students on our trip as we speak. The hotel seems safe enough for the time being and we are attempting to get everyone back here as I type this. I'm unsure if this is a regular occurance but our team leaders seem worried enough to gather everyone together. As I look outside the streets seem calm enough. Wilson, Watana Emily, Michelle, Josh, Pau and myself are all mulling around the hotel lobby. Will try to update you all more later.

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