06 November 2010

The Lost Boys

I finally gained enough courage to infiltrate the Lost Boys Lair next door to my house. I needed to take a series of photos to fully document the magnificence.

Things to look for:

  • The child smoking
  • The man holding the rooster
  • The Wild West inspired scarf tied around mouth
  • The black mesh tank top  
  • The almost preppy sweater around shoulders look

I took a moment to indulge in self righteousness
by saying jangan merokok, kamu terlalu kecil
Don't smoke. You're too small. 

So much wood!

I have yet to enter this one

UPDATE: Two fellow Fulbrights, Thomas and Mary, came to visit. They helped me to exploit the Indonesian lack of boundaries in order to see the inside of this construction. After inviting ourselves in, we experienced a lost boys' lair (as expected) as well as a few surprises.

Things we expected that were confirmed:
  • Assortment of young men
  • Magazine cut outs on the wall--mainly pertaining to soccer
  • Random electronics 
We, however, did not expect:
  • A canopy bed
  • Eyelash curler (When we asked about it they earnestly informed us they used it to curl their eyelashes. Ok.)  

Mount Merapi

As Mt. Merapi erupts I wanted to take a moment to flashback to this volcano's more peaceful days. My friends in Yogyakarta are evacuating because of the ash and pebbles raining down.  My thoughts are with them. 

Here are some photos from two years ago when I climbed Mount Merapi.

Sunrise from the top


Yes, my main picture is of Merapi

One of our guides. We had really great conversations.

Laura and me 

Climbing back down 

We started hiking around 11 pm armed with headlamps and snacks. Often needing to use our hands, we literally climbed for seven hours. We reached the top in perfect time to watch the sunrise. Our guides made us hot chocolate and nasi goreng (fried rice). Climbing down took even longer and was surprisingly more frightening. The darkness had made me blissfully ignorant of the drop offs that surrounded us.

05 November 2010


Before I came to Tana Toraja, I was warned by an Indonesian friend that there is a lot of black magic here. That friend gave me his father's magical ring to serve as protection. I was also given strict instructions not to wear it into the restroom because apparently that removes the magic.

What I've learned about magic in Indonesia thus far:

  • Young people can become possessed by spirits. This most often happens if there is emptiness in their heart, which creates a vacuum the spirit can fill. When someone is possessed their skin and lips turn pale and they may faint or start screaming. One of the high school teachers is skilled at removing spirits from students by saying magic words and touching their forehead with a special type of cloth. 
  • Not everyone has magical powers. Those who do usually live in the wilderness--away from modern technologies. Magic is inherited. However, if one wishes to maintain their magical abilities they must live a life of seemingly arbitrary restrictions. Thus far I know they cannot drink alcohol or walk under laundry lines. These people cannot be affected by swords or bullets. 
  • Those without the gift can still sometimes perform acts of magic. For example, when he was young, one of my co-teachers was able to use magic to make a girl fall in love with him. Apparently he obtained the necessary magic words from one of his friends who had the power. This teacher told me that the girl fell so madly in love with him that it became a nuisance. He did what he had to in order to reverse the spell. He said the magic words backwards. The words weren't Indonesian or any other language my co-teacher had ever heard. 
  • In the past magic was used to make dead people walk. This would be done if a body needed to be relocated. It would only work if the deceased person avoided being seen by walking deep in the forest at night. Today, this isn't done because modern transportation undermined its utility. 
  • Magic is still currently used to prevent rain at funerals. 
I've been told that you can only be affected by magic if you believe in it. The stronger your faith the stronger its power. I don't believe in magic per se but I do believe that faith in anything can be very powerful.