First days in Manokwari


10 jun, 2013

First days in Manokwari

door Kathrin Pape


„I hope that you will have a good time in West Papua, but I hope that this time you will come home.“ My mother knows this most of the times better than me. She already thought that I would not just stay the planned one year in Jogjakarta and Bali and she was right as I took a year off from my studies to stay another year in beautiful Indonesia. Two weeks ago I arrived in West Papua and I wonder if my mother will be right again…

Before I arrived here I talked to many people about the area, I looked at photos and videos, heard descriptions of people, cultures and nature and still couldn’t imagine how it would be to live in Manokwari and the surroundings. I felt relieved when I arrived early in the morning on the small airport of Manokwari and it just felt right to be there.

I live in the boarding house of the High School SMA Katolik Villanova and during the week I help a little bit with teaching English and German. Fortunately in this school every child has to learn German that way I could already talk a little bit about my home and show some photos. As I already realized before, the ones with the snow are always the most interesting ones. Other than my friends in Jogjakarta and Bali they managed really good to find me in the pictures among my friends. Whereas I am still struggling with all the names of the people I met in the first weeks …

Well, I have to say that I am quite busy with getting to know many places and people around here. „The big city“ is about 15 minutes through the forests from the High School. The nature is amazing and I already had the chance to go on some hikes. But as someone from the north of Germany I always like to be close to the ocean as well. Luckily I am surrounded by nice beaches like Aipiri, Batokaro, Pasir Putih with very good snorkeling spots. The waves aren’t high enough yet for surfing so I managed not to disgrace myself yet 🙂 But for sure it will be lots of fun.

Thanks to Charles Roring I was able to join a trip to the Arfak Mountains with the Department of Tourism who planned a promotion video about that region. The first day we drove about 2 hours to the Mokwam region. There we met Zeth Wonggor who could tell us a lot about the daily life in the area and he took us on a 40 minutes hike the next morning to see the birds of paradise. The bird just gave us a quick chance to see him so I couldn’t manage to take a photo. After lunch we left for Anggi Lakes. The road was quite rough and after a few photo-stops at the traditional houses (rumah kaki seribu) and viewpoints we arrived after a couple of hours at the camp which was close to the lake. On the way the Motocross and Bicycle Community from Manokwari catched up with us and our camp was quite busy in the evening. Of course everyone liked to make fun of me in the evening as I, as a foreigner who should be used to the cold, was freezing the most and always closest to the fire. In the morning we got up early as we wanted to drive up the hill and enjoy the view over the two lakes at sunrise, but it was raining and it just cleared at around noon. Anyway we managed to take some nice pictures. On the way back we stopped at the village to see a traditional dance which was set at nice spot with a view over the lake.

Last Monday I went to meet Ibu Ijte Kaikatuys for the first time. I was invited to see her gallery and had a look at the handicrafts the women of this area are making. Most of them were unemployed and/or widows and now gain a little income with the help of her. Every day they are baking cakes and every Monday and Thursday they meet to make some new handicrafts. On the day I visited them they were already on their fourth day of a training how to make cake decoration.

That was an inspiring day with Ibu Kaikatuy and the women and I asked if I could meet more women in other areas around Manokwari. Ibu Kaikatuy was happy to accompany me the next day to the small village at the Aipiri beach. There I saw another variety of products and was amazed by the ideas the women have. The knowledge how to make different handicrafts is always passed on to the children and they prefer to work together in a group.

Most of the materials can be found at beaches, rivers and lakes. To keep the costs low the women take shells, pits, bamboo, sand etc., thus they work environmental friendly as well.

After all these days in the school, the forests and mountains and with the women, some people of the surf community thought it is time for me to get to know the marine life. They took me on a snorkeling trip just a short boat ride away. The weather was really nice and we saw some quite cool things:

Yesterday I got invited again by Ibu Kaikatuy to meet more women at the church close to the grave from Carl Wilhelm Ottow and the memorial for him und Johann Gottlob Geißler the two first missionaries from Germany who arrived on the Mansinam island on the 5th of February 1855. They were a quite huge group of women and organized an exhibition in front of the church with their handicrafts.

After we talked to the women and gathered some information about their handicrafts, how to make them and where they sell them, we went on to our next destination for the day: Mansinam island!

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