Kalimantan – the burning weather island – did not disappoint
10.11.2014 38 °C
As Creedence Clearwater Revival wrote, “you better run through the jungle….”. Kalimantan is one of the largest islands in the world and still has some places that are untouched by western civilization. There are still leper colonies, and jungle tribes. Also famous for vipers, wild boars and orangutans – literally, “people of the jungle”. Fortunately (or unfortunately), we did not come across any, but confronted the usual array of swarming mosquito, large hornets, and spiders the size of tennis balls (one was making himself comfortable on my pillow).
So, complete with mosquito nets and malaria pills, bug spray and sunscreen, our team embarked on our adventure at 3am from Malang. After a 3 hour journey to the airport, and a one hour flight, we began our 6 hour trek by vehicle. I thought driving in Java was an experience, but this was beyond anything I’d imagined. Jason Bourne’s driving scene in the Bourne Identity pales in comparison. His was brief, this went on for hours. The video games where you are the driver and the cars are coming at you is even tame compared to this….vehicles are passing constantly at great rates of speeds in very precarious situations on narrow roads…they miss each other by mere inches (“much room”) – parents with babies (no helmets) on motor bikes squeezing between huge mining trucks. But despite this madness, everyone gets to their destination.
We traveled miles and miles of bumpy “roads” and half washed-out bridges. The rivers reminded me of scenes out of Apocalypse Now and The Deer Hunter. We finally arrived at our destination and were served the unfamiliar dinner of fish heads and wild boar. I decided to stick with the rice and…water….and more rice. The next day we ran a very successful coaching clinic, and my coaching team then worked with 7 village schools in 38 degree heat. The “training” areas were a challenge to say the least. But again in Indonesia, these things just kinda work. The coaches and kids had a great time. The joy and gratitude of the players is something we in the west could really learn from. These kids have had no formal training and are grateful for just having a ball. We brought cones and pinnies as well, as they normally set up rickety bamboo goals and play shirts & skins.
We concluded the 2 days with a tournament, which the kids loved, to say the least. At the end, each player was presented a certificate and t-shirt. The equipment was divided between the 7 village schools, and each coach received a coaching manual (complete with DVD), written by well-known Coach Timo Scheunemann. The coaches and players were overwhelmed by these gifts. Thanks to those back home in Canada who were so generous in donating equipment and funds.
In Indonesia, sporting goods and music stores are combined. In conjunction with the soccer training, a music clinic was put on by professional musicians. Most, if not all of the children had never, and will never, have any type of musical training.
At the end, we all felt like rock stars as we were all signing shirts and having our pictures taken constantly.
Our group was unanimous in feeling that though we were able to give to them, we received far more back. We left in wonder and awestruck with memories & lifelong friendships established. This is an experience I will not forget and my words do not do the experience justice.
And remember, when in Kalimantan, like Bubba and Lieutenant Dan being carried out of the Vietnam bush ….”you better Run through the Jungle”