When we arrived at the end of October, Bawean experience an exceptionally harsh and long dry season (photo). No rain had fallen for the last couple of months and the soil was extremely dry and making me think of the Dutch saying ‘’kurkdroog’’. Unfortunately, this was quite bad for most of Bawean’s inhabitants. As in most of Indonesia, nobody here wears just one cap when it comes to professions. You can be a fishermen, contractor, teacher or sell produce on the market, but wages are low and often not sufficient to cover all the household (and school) expenses. For example, even for teachers salaries below 1 million rupiah are not uncommon. This is less than 66 euros per month. Therefore it may come as no surprise that almost every household owns a small rice field for some much needed additional income. With the strong seasonality here the fields can be cultivated for about half of the year, but then the rain season needs to come.
About a week ago finally the rain season did come! After a few, short splashes that had already occurred every now and then, the sky filled up with dark greyish clouds. It did not clear up again for the next two days and the amount of rainwater that came down turned the forest paths into sediment-rich forest waterways. For a week or so, the dry forest we had known before turned into a flooded forest. Perhaps not surprising, we didn’t find many pigs on our camera traps last week either. It seems ‘best to stay inside’ is not only reserved for people.
In the meantime the arrival of the rain has meant that transportation to and from the island is limited, with the regular ferry off duty due to the high waves. Transportation to the mainland is now (toebehouden aan) a large ferry that goes twice a week. About once a year the weather really strikes a bad period, and the navy steps in to transport people from the island. In case of an emergency and adequate insurance, or if you are very wealthy, you can charter a seat aboard a helicopter at around 2500 euros.