The exhaust smoke from diesel trucks carrying everything from cows to cabbages blackens my nostrils as I enter closer to the city of Poso in central Sulawesi, Indonesia. The deep muddy pot holes that freckle the road bounce Pandemic The Magic bicycle to new heights as I hold on tight in the congested street. Motorcycles zoom by on all sides as it is sundown and another long day of fasting for Ramadan has commenced. Eating this month (day 14 in the Muslim calendar) is allowed by non participating Muslims and Christians but not in public. Eating, drinking, smoking or physical displays of affection are not condoned outdoors during Ramadan. I was busted today hiding in a farmer’s field chugging water, the farmer laughed, flashed his toothless grin and carried on driving his two cow cart as I apologetically smiled and quickly put away the water.
The street is lavished in organized chaos; the traffic pattern is original in that every vehicle drives down the street together all giving way to the faster vehicle whether it be truck, motorcycle, cow or goat. There are no stop signs or traffic lights just a patient understanding that there is always room for more on the road. Pandemic The Magic Bicycle is about the speed of the motorcycles therefore Pandemic and about 50 motorcycles and a couple of cows all carry on.
I have cycled 140km(89miles) today into Poso City the largest city in central Sulawesi. Poso is known for hosting Sulawesi’s religious conflicts from 1998-2006. As in other locations throughout Indonesia Muslims and Christians rose up in violent protest. The most gruesome of the many incidents is the beheading of 3 Christian school girls in 2005. A radical Muslim man, in an twisted terrorist attempt of retribution of over 2000 Muslims being unfairly killed over the 1998-2006, 8 year period, beheaded three Christian schoolgirls with a machete, put the heads in a plastic bag and then left a note that said 100 heads needed. Many mosques and churches were destroyed during that time period. The story of the violent religious clashes is long and full of many such incidences. Poso has been stable and without conflict since 2006. And today, Poso is filled more with organized vehicular chaos then organized crime.
More information concerning the violent protests from 1998-2007 in Central Sulawesi can be found here
Posted by Loretta Henderson