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Under Construction

19 Aug 11
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It went up in less than a week. Bandung is a city where new road construction is almost non-existent and road repairs, if they happen at all, are shoddily done. So it was quite surprising to watch a substantial barrier, about one foot wide, one foot high and a kilometer long being quickly built down the road in front of the kid’s school. Rumor has it that the regional governor drives this road to work every day and was tired of traffic, so he demanded that the barrier be built to improve traffic flow and ease his commute. If true, the final joke was on him – the “improvement” actually had the opposite effect, regularly turning the road into a parking lot.

About a month after the black and white striped barrier had gone up, the most curious thing began happening. In a city full of constantly blowing dirt, small pockets of soil had accumulated in cracks in the barrier, and weeds began growing.

We’re living in the tropics. For better or worse, things grow here, sometimes taking hold in the most unusual places.

We have a small pool in the backyard of our home. We run the fountain every day to make sure the water is aerated for the fish. The pool is cleaned every month. And yet it’s impossible to keep it from quickly becoming clogged with green algae and other sorts of biological material.

This region is a botanist’s wet dream. The average temperature while we’ve been here has been around 90 degrees Fahrenheit. It rained every day for the first eight months. The soil is predominantly volcanic ash, rich in nutrients. In other words, conditions are perfect for plant and mold growth. So things grow everywhere – on rooftops, the sides of buildings, our dresser drawers. It’s just something you get used to. Sometimes I expected to wake the kids up in the morning and find something sprouting on top of their heads.

It’s clear that humans are only temporary occupiers of Indonesia. It’s really the plants that rule here.

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