Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Recuperation in Java, Indonesia

Text: Life in Java, with sketches of the Javanese by William Barrington d'Almeida, 1864.
The Javanese, Life in Java
As the road was broader now and more even, we proceeded at a much more rapid rate, passing through jungles of lofty umbrageous forest trees, their sides and branches covered with lovely parasites and creepers, under which, in some parts, were coffee plantations; their white flowers something like those of the Jessamine at a distance, impregnating the air with delicious perfume.” Page 138-139 

As we near the Pacific Ocean once again, we’ve nearly come full circle on our own exploration of this world.  The experiences have been one in a lifetime, and we’ve done and seen things that we never even imagined could exist.  After all these months of planes, trains, and automobiles, not to mention horse, ship, or foot, we are feeling quite exhausted as we make our way through the last legs of our trip.  We journeyed over to the island nation of Indonesia, stayed in the dirty, crowded city of Jakarta for a few days before escaping to the relative quiet of the Java Island.  What better way to rejuvenate, we thought, then a stay on the famous coffee plantations of the island?
Javanese coffee beans after harvest and treatment.

Java coffee is world famous for pioneering the world coffee industry and for its strong, sweet distinctive flavor.  Some of the larger plantations, which have been in operation since the days of Dutch colonialization, offer tours and stays for visitors such as ourselves, who want to see where their treasured coffee comes from.  The plantations are huge, and employ hundreds of native Indonesians for the backbreaking labor they require.  Harvest of the coffee beans, called berries, is done in the late summer months and then begins the months-long process of drying, husking, storing, and finally packaging.  The coffee is shipped to international ports all over the world, and is Indonesia’s chief export. The plantation had several buildings of rudimentary machinery, such as a threshing and husking machine and storage silos, but much of the work is still done by hand to maintain the pristine reputation of this variety.

Rainforest occupants include the
Sumatran Orangutan
In addition to coffee exportation, Indonesia is also home to a wonderful rainforest filled with all kinds of exotic flora and fauna.  Growth of the coffee industry, as well as logging and mining, is starting to threaten some of the areas of rainforest, so our tour of Bali’s wildlife preserve was very cautious, so as not to disturb the revegetation there. In well-equipped forest buggies, we caravanned through an old mining trail, stopping to observe orangutans swinging in the canopy, poisonous frogs darting up trees, screaming monkeys, snakes longer and thicker than a grown man’s arm, and so much more.  Wild boars especially cross the path frequently, paying little attention to the human presence. The many-layered rainforest never sleeps, as something is always moving, shrieking, growing, or eating.  The diverse plant life comes alive in itself, with vivid colors and scents that perfume the forest.

The tropical journey was a spectacular one, and the colors, smells, and sounds of the jungle will stay with us for years when we think of the price of habitat destruction there for the simple luxuries offered at home.

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