It is day 4 and what a journey so far! First, let me begin by stating that we are all doing well. I’m sure you have heard by now that there was an earthquake off the coast of Sumatra. We are further East in Buli, at least 1000 miles, so nothing was felt here.
Four days of traveling have brought us to this amazing place! The team traveled from Hawaii, Wales, the Czech Republic, Germany and France to Jakarta to meet up on Monday evening before we continued our journey through this wonderful country. Despite a couple of small flight delays in London and Istanbul, most of us made it to Jakarta as planned. Our team members coming in from Prague weren’t so lucky. A snowstorm in Prague delayed their flight into Jakarta and hence their travel to Buli. They will be able to join us later today. On Tuesday we flew from Jakarta to Ternate. Thirty four suitcases with telescopes, cameras and other equipment, hard-case boxes filled with mounts, tripods and cables, 6 very large and heavy aluminum boxes with large telescope equipment, 12 personal suitcases, and many carry-ons all accounted for at the airport meant we were ready to transport everything to our observing sites. It must be noted that people in Indonesia are very helpful, cheerful and welcoming. We’ve had an immense amount of help with all our equipment and luggage like never before. Our next journey was by speedboat. The journey lasted about 30 minutes to the island of Halmahera where we were taken to Buli by car.
After a long and deeply nerve-racking (put lightly) car ride, there was a surprise welcome ceremony organized by the people of Buli. What a spectacle! Words cannot describe how beautiful, warm, cheerful, energetic, and passionate everyone is in Buli. The dances and songs were amazing. They speak of the people of Buli and their history. We learned of the vast multi-culture embedded within Indonesia. People dressed in their traditional clothes from Sumatra, Java, Sulawesi, among others, greeted us during the ceremony. They are so happy to host us in this lively town and how honored and privileged we are to be here! Please click on “Picture Gallery” to view more photos of this ceremony and some of the great food we’ve had this week. Photos will be added when possible.
This brings us to today. The team will be split into three groups, those staying in Buli (S3 Group), those who will setup up in Maba (S2 Group), and those of us heading to the island of Pulau Plun (Plun Island, S1 Group). Though we all wish to have the time to sleep and get over our jetlag, the eclipse will not wait for us. It is 6 days away and preparations have begun. At the Kartika Buli Resort Hotel, the S3 Group sets up a tent that will house the equipment for observing the eclipse. Ben is helping since his team (S2 Group) is delayed at the moment. My group, S1 will start setting up this afternoon on Plun Island.