By Simen Blokland “It is safe” someone said to me when we had landed in the small harbour of Desa Kota Kusuma. My luggage seemed to move in three directions away from me and I had to pose for several pictures. I must have given the good man the impression that I did not feel quite at ease. Apparently my belongings were trolleyed to the car that would bring us to the homestay right away and after this hectic start the peace returned. The homestay is a friendly place, with enough space to move, Nasi on the table and sort of a bathroom. When we walk around the block we find sandy broken roads, no wider than two meters, with many chickens, houses with shiny stones, and distant mountains covered with a mix of palm trees and other broadleaved plant species. The chanting sound from the many mosques is carried in all directions five times a day and can even be heard when deep in the forest and between the mountains. On the other side of the mountains the land soon gives way to the sea again which you can spot almost from every location you’re at. I was born on an island in the south of Belanda (The Netherlands) so I like to see water on the horizon, but this is such a different country that I could not foresee what had to come. The first thing that came to me was that the land is dry. Six months there has been no rain. Luckily the first shower, as an early messenger for the rainy season to come, has fallen last week. For now the paddy fields remain dry and empty, but soon they will turn green and fulfil the people’s needs. Besides the fact that the rivers hardly have water in them, the climate is okay. Yes it is hot, and no there is no real wind, but the weather is not as pressing as on Java. Although any action causes hyperthermia, occasionally somewhat cool air flows (not blows) from the sea over the island. Just enough to maintain sort of homeostasis. Still there is this never ending thirst but I guess we will get used to this.