arrived here on Thursday at the Kualakurun Primate Reserve deep
in the throbbing heart of the dense and mangrove-choked swamp forests
of the myseriously-shaped Southeast Asian island of Borneo, and
I've been hard at work writing my Report from the Field
ever since. It took me longer than I expected to get here because
my car was accidentally dropped overboard while it was being offloaded
from the ship in Balikpapan, and by the time it was raised from
the shallow waters of the bay, the engine was in pretty bad shape.
Then someone ran a red light and hit me, proving once again that
nothing in life is easy!
When I finally
got to Kualakurun, the tall and lanky Dutchman Piet Mons Apeldoorn
was waiting for me on his shaded verandah sipping a cool oilberry
beer, Borneo's national drink, and he whistled for some of his assistants
to help me get my suitcases into the guest cottage, after which
he promised to tell me about his new discoveries concerning the
tarsiid species T. reclusia, previously thought to be extinct.
But I had caught him at a rather bad time and he had to catch
up on some back issues of the Borneo Bulletin, so I politely
excused myself and slipped quietly off to bed.
Friday and Saturday
were Bornean national holidays, so all the assistants went home
to their native villages and camp actiivities were suspended. I
managed to drag a confortable lounge chair out under a rattan nut
tree and while swatting at mosquitos worked busily on my Report.
I could hear great horned gibbons screaming in the distance
while nearer at hand a large, reddish, ofttimes surly and obsiguous
orangutan broke trees. On Sunday I napped all day in the hot
Bornean sunlight while Piet worked on my car. The assistants
returned just in time for the obligatory farewell party, during
which we ate a delicious boiled fish and monitor lizard stew.
Piet thanked me for coming, the assistants sang traditional Bornean
dirges, and I read excerpts from some of my articles. After
a ritual exchange of gifts, I was able to get my car started and
was off to file my Report.
That's about it
for this issue. Kualakurun isn't such a mystery anymore, is it?
Anyway, next time I'll adjust my brakes and clean my windshield,
and try to make it all the way to the Chudleigh-Lilydale Royal Tasmanian
Primatological Observatory to interview Drs. Mawbanna Waddamana
and Basil Smith. So until then, I'll just say So long.