"By Aeroplane to Pygmyland" Accounts of the 1926 Smithsonian-Dutch Expedition to New Guinea

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Journal of Matthew Stirling
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April 16, 1926 : Ambon

April 16th

Today the unloading of the Fomalhout was completed and Hans and Prince worked all day on the repairs to the damaged pontoons. {p. 17} They had to make two new struts as it was found that the ones damaged by the waterspout were broken beyond repair at the fittings. They will probably be able to complete the job tomorrow or the next day. Van Leeuwen, le Roux and I visited the governor's palace today and took a walk with the governor through the gardens. The building, like all in Ambon, is built of nipa palm with thatched roof, on account of earthquakes. It is a pleasure on the dock to watch the brilliant coloured fish playing about the piling in the crystal clear waters. Some of them are flashing jewels: brilliant blue, yellow, purple, black, red, and many combinations of colors in spots and stripes, and as many curious shapes as there are colors. Another pastime equally strenuous is to watch the natives in their dugout, outrigger canoes, fishing and playing about the surface of the bay. Canoes there are of all shapes and sizes, some so narrow a grown man cannot sit in them and some so tiny it hardly seems possible that they can support the paddler. The outriggers are made of the mid-rib of a species of palm, which is as light as cork. Many of the canoes are manned by small boys who play about and sing and have a good time generally, in contrast to the children in Java who are a solemn lot as a rule and play but little.

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