Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Stonehenge of Saribas - Pictures tell Stories

The Stonehenge of Saribas

Druids this way came. But they found no rocks or stones large enough. So they made do with leftover timber and a large diesel tank.

The lorries patiently await the arrival of barges loaded with granite from the quarry sites some miles downriver. They are used to pave the hundreds of miles of the giant oil palm estates here.

No, these are not neglected cloth lines. These beautiful pink flower plants are what the planters call 'beneficial' plants. They attract the sort of predatory insects which keep down the population of harmful bugs (weevils and others) that would attack the leaf and fruit. Apart from bugs, rats and mice are a major problem. For the rodent problem, the natural defenses are snakes and the biawaks (a large lizard). But the planters say that they have not sighted many biawaks. They also tried to introduce owls, which are superb rat catchers. But strangely, the newcomers keep going missing. They suspect that the natives may be shooting them down. But that is mere speculation.

Growing anything anywhere on a large scale is often challenging. And for palm oil in peat soil it is doubly difficult. Water level is required to be kept at a constant level. It is the nature of peat that if it loses too much water it loses the ability to regain the original moisture level, even if you are able to increase the water table. Small waterlocks are built on the estate watering system. The still water encourages the growth of algea on the surface, that is why it is often bright green.

Crossing the Batang Saribas (Saribas River). At this spot it's more than a kilometre wide.

Saribas will forever be ingrained in my mind as the place where I saw heaven reflected on the still water of our earth. I also witnessed the strong hearts and limbs of men and women who are trying their very best to carve a living from the yielding earth. May we respect mother nature and her giving ways, and not take too much from her, to leave her barren for our children and grandchildren...

Have a sunny Sunday, sunshine.

Pax Taufiqa

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