Working Christmas

December 25
Gorontalo Harbour

Stella & Yogi in Kuala Lumpur's KLCC. The six level shopping mall of Petronas Twin Towers! We're in a CITY!!!

Stella & Yogi in Kuala Lumpur’s KLCC, the six level shopping mall of Petronas Twin Towers! We’re soaking in a CITY!!!

What?! Working on Christmas? Sadly, yes.  But we had our fill of pre-Christmas in the 3 days we spent with friends in Kuala Lumpur for our visa run. Every two months we have to leave Indonesia and come back to continue our shoot.

Back to work in Gorontalo in our local chariot, a tricycle locally called bento.

Back to work in Gorontalo in our local chariot, a tricycle called bentor

And on Dec 23, it was back to work and we were going to Gorontalo, North Sulawesi – a predominantly Muslim area so there was no such thing as Christmas anyway.

We flew from KL to Makassar to Gorontalo where we had a date with handline tuna fishermen in their fish attracting device (FAD) or locally called rakit. Last October, we (along with WWF Indonesia’s by-catch officer Hafizh Adyas) aborted a handline tuna fishing adventure from a small outrigger pumpboat from Belang, North Sulawesi for safety reasons. The waves were big, our boat was tiny and we were five in it! All our gear were dry inside the hull which was the tuna compartment. But we were drenched with saltwater and Hafizh was seasick. It would have taken us eight hours to the fishing grounds on this death vessel, so we aborted after three hours and headed back to land and safety. We have no pictures of this tiny boat adventure as we were trying very hard not to fall overboard.

Our Christmas vessel for the next three days with Captain Mu'in

Our Christmas vessel “Tuna Jaya” for the next three days with Captain Mu’in

It was time to try again with Hafizh in Gorontalo with a bigger boat. The owner of a fleet of boats is Pak Wahid and there was a “small” carrier boat waiting in Gorontalo for us. It was small for them but big for us. 100 kilometers or eight hours away from the harbour, we left Gorontalo at 1:30am. We were given a nice tiny cabin to cram our tons of luggage and ourselves for the next three days. It’s 7am on the 26th now and we should get there by 8:30.

About the Author:

Stella was born in Manila, Philippines in 1965. She studied anthropology but ended up in advertising, producing radio and TV commercials for 7 years. After quitting advertising, she ventured into the freelance world in Manila producing video documentaries for a publishing house, government agencies, non govenmental organisations, and the academe. She moved on to producing books and had a stint at working with foreign production companies visiting Manila. Stella, now based in Cairns, produces photo stories with her husband Jürgen Freund.