trails & tribulations

by Jakob

I was a little bored of being the tourist all the time, so volentering on an ecological farm seemed a good idea to me, also because in in everyday life I do a kind of similar work. Via the Wooff-project ( worldwide opportunities on organic farms) I decided to go to an ecological farm on the volcanic island of Sumatra Samosir.
To get there, I first had to go to Medan, the capital of Sumatra, and from there I could take the next day the bus to Parapat, from where the boat to Samosir leaves.
My first impression of Medan was a bit disappointing: a looked a poor, pollution, many concrete slabs thathad to cover the sewage / drainage and serve as a footpath were missing, so “hati-hati di mana Anda berjalan”
I wasn’t really surprised that a lot of times I was greeted and addressed with questions such as “hello mister, where you’re going? where you’re from? but in Medan, this happened very often, but in a different way than I’ve experienced in some countries. It was much more genuine interest and not at all intrusive. Often I was also prompted by students for an interview because they wanted to take the opportunity to practise their English language skills, ones I agreed and it was frankly quite entertaining to be interviewed.
The next day I took the bus to Parapat, a trip of about 5 hours.
Arrived in Parapat I took the boat to Tomok and when I arrived there I hoped to take a a minibus to Silimalombu, unfortunately I just missed the last bus, so I took a motorbike taxi.

Sitting on the motorbike taxi, bumping and skidding on the mostly unpaved norrow roads I finally arrived in the little village of Silimalombu and was welcomed by Ratnauli with “welcome to Silimalombu”

A little info:
Silimalombu is a village with only a handful of houses, where one boat a day sail to civilization. The village lies on the island of Samosir in the middle of Lake Toba, a crater lake that long ago incurred due to a massive volcanic eruption. The island was created later by another volcanic eruption.
Apparently there are some 7 dormant volcanoes at the bottom of the lake to be.
Ratnauli or Ratna, as everyone calls her lives with her mother (whom I never met because she lived elsewhere during my visit) in a fairly large house in the village of Silimalombu. Ratna’s father was a king (so Ratna is actually a princess), he owned much land and many cows, it seems that cows also includes in the name of the village, because Silimalombu means something like the five cows. The family still owns large tracts of land, not only in Silimalombu, but also (rice fields) near Medan.

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