(Continuation of "Harvesting Seaweed")
Once the harvested seaweed is weighed and loaded onto a mini-truck, it is transported to a drying field, to be dried in the sun. It is spread out on bamboo tables or even on tarpaulins on the ground. But every night and when rain threatens it has to be covered, otherwise all the work is in vain.
We tasted some of the fresh seaweed, it has a rubbery texture and tastes salty (of course). What it is used for, we could not find out. On Java there are a few warungs offering a drink es rumput laut or soup soto rumput laut (which we have not tried yet), but the bulk of the weed must go somewhere else. They say the Chinese buy it.
As the pictures show, the weed may be of many different colours. We were told that there are over a hundred different varieties.
Directions: We found two drying fields along the road to the airport, only a few km from Karimunjawa vilage.
The cultivation of seaweed is an important source of income for the locals of Karimunjawa. One kg of dried seaweed earns them Rp 8000. But how many kgs of wet seaweed are needed for 1 kg of dried seaweed?
Single branches of weed are tied to a long plastic rope. The rope with the weed is then made to float in the sea with the aid of plastic bottles. After 40 days the weed has grown out sufficiently to be harvested. Part of the harvest is cut into pieces to set out into the sea again.
These scenes we saw at Kohin beach, but can be seen at many coastal settlements.
The weed is collected with a boat, then temporarily stored in a basin until the truck comes to collect it. Only then the weed is brought ashore in a small boat and put in baskets for weighing. The baskets are emptied into the truck that takes it to the drying grounds.
As you can see, Helen lent a hand. And all the while children play in and out of the water.
When walking to Ujung Gelam beach, we saw this old woman busy making brooms (sapu lidi) from coconut leaf fibers.
Helen asked whether she could buy one, but she said "no", she was making them on order.
Kohin beach is on the east side of Kemujan island. There we met pak Mustafa and eventually hired his boat for a trip to Pulau Cilik and Pulau Tengah. But pak Mustafa did not navigate the boat himself, he asked his son to do that. The reason: he was busy building a boat for a neighbour.
It was amazing to see how he builds a boat with only simple hand tools. He told us that he could do the job in one month and that the cost of the boat was around 30 million rupiah, mainly for the wood. The wood for the skin of the boat comes from Kalimantan, but the ribs are made of local wood. The pieces for he ribs should already have the right curvature, and then he patiently whittles them to exact fit.
But pak Mustafa also uses modern technology for the boat; the seams he seals with epoxy glue.
At the first crossroads when coming from the harbour there is a row of souvenir shops. They sell a.o. walking sticks, bracelets, necklaces and rosaries (well, when muslims use the latter they are called tasbih).
At about 11 km on the road to Kemujan we met pak Ahmad, the man who makes the bracelets, necklaces and rosaries. He works in a small open workshop at the beach side of the road. Using a simple foot-operated lathe and a hand-held chisel he makes perfectly round wooden beads.
He lets you have a try and says it takes at least a month of practice before you are proficient!
people here so humble and laid-back. so give your smile and it's cost nothing. we found the kids looks so shy sometimes but they're friendly. ask them about best way to fishing and they'll show you. the best to talk with them of course, in [central] javanese lingo [nice to use that lingo again and again and forget my jakartan accents for moments. great :)]