If I see one more person put "pray for Indonesia" as their facebook or blackberry status I might flip. This is the most populous Muslim country in the world, with millions of people praying five times a day. If their prayers have not warded off the "wrath of a vengeful god" (which is who prayers are directed to) then is my one half-hearted, unbelieving prayer going to tip the scales? And don't tell me who to believe in or what to pray about anyway! Enough with the rant, onto the real info.
Indonesia is located on the Ring of Fire. I learned a lot about this in school because Seattle is on the Ring as well, though a much less active part. Any country on the Ring of Fire is apt to encounter earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. It happens with the tectonic plate their location on shifts with or against the huge pacific plate. Other major locations on the Ring of Fire? Japan, California. All sites of huge earthquakes this century. The Mount St. Helen's eruption in Oregon that sent ash as far away as Russia? Great Alaskan quake of '64? On the Ring of Fire too. I haven't felt one earthquake here which might be because I didn't feel them at home often either. I've become desensitize to them.
|courtesy of explorations.ucsd.edu. Indonesia is over on the left, near Australia.|
If that weren't enough for cash strapped and infrastructure crippled Indonesia, there is also a volcanic eruption happening near Yogyakarta in central Java. Mount Merapi is a known active volcano. I was near it in September for holiday. The hot ash and gas has killed 33 and the count is growing. The hillsides of the mountain are populated by farmers who know the mountain soil is fertile. Many are refusing to leave their belongings, their land but the ash is raining down more than five miles away now.
|courtesy of bbc.com|
|courtesy of ayearinbali.wordpress.com|
I was asked by a new class of business students why I am in Indonesia. Part of my answer was that no one comes here, it's largely unknown by Westerners or maybe specifically Americans. I feel an obligation to tell people about Indonesia; the people, cultures, customs, Islam, etc. My experience here will be unlike any other I can have. Sometimes good, often trying but always different. If I can teach people a little something, even the ability to find Indonesia on a map, and I will consider my mission accomplished.
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