On Friday night we attended an informal gathering at a friends’ house.
They are, unfortunately, heading back to OZ. The expat community is
losing Aussies and Kiwis, and the persons of alternative nationalities,
if departing expats are being replaced by another expat, that is, are not filling
the “social gap”. The hosts supplied the grog and pizzas, and we had a
very pleasant smoke-free evening.

The elementary school had its Primay Years Programme exhibition yesterday, by Grade 6 students. It was very impressive, with all the kids being able to talk about the inquiry process, and how they ended up with their various products. It was great to see a good number of “significant” high school teachers, who, hopefully, will be able to improve the entry of Year 7 students to high school – they now have a better idea of the “starting point” of the students.

We’ve just had the Year 12 National exams, and the Year 9 ones are next week. The teachers are terrified that kids will fail, because, the government, in its “wisdom”, has decided that there is no make up exam this year. Every school is in the same boat, but no-one knows which boat it is. Added to that, some schools clearly cheat, but nothing is done about it. To me, having kids fail a set of poorly-constructed exams can be dealt with, but having them repeat is a big problem. We’ll keep our collective fingers crossed.

Helen, Martini and I went to see the “lumpur” early this morning. We dorve down the toll road and turned off, and then went the long way (according to the young lady at the petrol station) to the edge of the mud flow. The road brought us out through Tanggul Angin, the place where leather goods are made. It is suffering mightily, because the tourist buses can’t really get to it. (Businesses on the other side of the mud must be suffering too.)

A couple of kilometres down the road the traffic was being turned back. We told the policemen there that we wanted to have a peep at the mud and asked where we could park. “Here”, they said, and directed us to a spot in front of their post. Then, like all Indonesians, who seemed to have developed the view that westerners are incompetent, incapable, but fairly harmless dolts, they were concerned that we had to walk a bit to see the mud. Like all our dealings with the Surabaya constabulary, they were friendly and helpful when treated with respect (and a bit of Indonesian language helps as well).

 

For me, the drive there was more frustrating, because the inaction of all levels of government is obvious. Absolutely nothing has been done to create an alternative road system for the multitude of vehicles that need to enter and leave Surabaya each day. So, as well as the poor victims who have lost their homes, through no fault of their own, all the people who live in Surabaya, but work outside it, and all the poor people who live on the road that are now choked with traffic are affected. There is no political will evident whatsoever.

Indonesians are fabulous at making a rupiah out of any situation. On the outskirts of Tanggal Angin there is a host of motorcycle riders who will, for a small fee, guide you through the (previously quiet) backstreets to Malang. Then, as well as the men who will take you, by motorbike, along the levee banks to see the mud geyser, there are others selling DVD’s of the tragedy for Rp15,000 (~ AU$2). And, of course, there is the proliferation of small warungs that spring up around any spot where people gather.

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