Since gaining autonomy, our local island government receives an annual budget from Uncle Jakarta that they can play with however they see fit. In a country rife with corruption, transparency is murky at best, and coupled with our minimal understanding of the political wormholes, it is impossible to know how funding is channelled. What is evident are new white gravel roads through uninhabited and rugged inland areas, that end in a swamp or at the foot of a cliff. Many are built along former goat tracks, and do little but provide easier access for trucks to infiltrate the interior and pillage free rocks. No doubt the mayor's brother owns a truck or two and our local member happens to be in possession of earth moving equipment that can be contracted out at a handsome daily fee.
Many of these roads are built in the wet season while we are away, so upon our return I am met with many exploring opportunities. We are fortunate to be babysitting a Yamaha trail bike that skips along the back tracks. Fuel has been scarce, as high winds have prevented the ferry crossing from the mainland, so long distance outings have to be timed with a full tank.
Our village is relatively affluent since the introduction of seaweed farming as a profitable cash crop, and as a result almost all of the traditional houses have been replaced with brick hot boxes of mosquito infestation. For people in the interior, life is very basic and subsistent, and houses are still made from materials gathered in nearby bushland. Thanks to juice from the lontar palm, caloric intake is sufficient and stable, without an annual period of famine that effects other regions.