Fireworks, "ground zero" and rugby.

This weekend I didn’t take a single photo. So beware of the photo-less post.

On Saturday I discovered the bule (foreigner) supermarket. It has Vegemite AND macaroni cheese. I didn’t buy them but knowing that they are there gave me real sense of calm. I also picked up my friend’s DVD collection. I’ve only watched one movie so far (Harold and Maude) but beware, this blog could become a film review site before you know it. I will say though, Harold and Maude was delightful!

On Saturday night I went to the WFP bar (a bar hidden in the depths of the compound away from the police) to watch the rugby. Yep, I watched a world cup. Oh lordy it was boring. But I met another person interning with the UN which was nice. There were a lot of people there, some of whom seemed a bit too keen on themselves. Gee, some people think they’re so cool for living and working in a really crappy place (i.e. disaster zone).

After the rugby my boss and some others picked me up for a late night adventure (9.30pm!) to the beach to set off fireworks. But on the way to the beach it started raining so we chickened out and went back to the office to set them off. It was great fun! Fireworks should definitely not be illegal. Yes, they are dangerous and badly made, but they are also cheap! A recipe for a good time! Some of the fireworks were decorated with pictures of Sponge Bob Square Pants.

On Sunday, while waiting to be picked up by my boss for another beach outing some little kids were playing in the yard next door. The littlest one, who was the size of a six month old, but was walking around and playing like an 18 month old walked over to the fence and just stared at me. For a long time. I waved and smiled but held back, not wanting to frighten her, and she just kept staring. Then, out of the blue she burst into tears. She was hysterical! Her sister tried to calm her down, but her dad had to come out and take her inside away from the thing that was frightening her…me!

After that devastating turn of events we drove to the beach which was beautiful but very nasty looking. Apparently drowning in this beach is the biggest (and only) killer of international workers in Banda Aceh. I don’t think I will be going in.

On the way to dinner after the trip to the beach we detoured into one of the neighbourhoods that was worst hit by the tsunami. Around here people call it “zero point” or “ground zero”.

I learned that one woman in my office had just come back to Banda Aceh from Jakarta to have a baby before the tsunami hit. Her parents’ house was in that neighbourhood and both of her parents, her two older children and the new baby were killed. Then she spent months and months in hospital recovering from her injuries. She was very ill because she had swallowed so much water. Another man in my office also lost his entire family.

That an entire community has suffered trauma on this scale is something I’m slowly grappling with.

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