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

Interpretive Essays

Browse Photos and Film

Expedition Source Material

About this Project

expedition source material

Journal of Matthew Stirling
Select a Date:
Select a location/subject:
Current Date and Location/Subject:  

April 17, 1926 : Ambon

April 17th

This is the rainy season in Ambon and there has been much more time that it is raining than not. It is a curious fact that although this is quite a small island, the wet and dry seasons are exactly the opposite on the north and south coasts. This is the wettest month of the year in Ambon; on the north coast {p. 18} it is the driest. This morning we were all given a convict to act as our personal servant, valet and bodyguard from now until the end of the expedition; as we need someone to carry our cigarette and light a match when it goes out. Mine is a Madoerese murderer who seems quite a fine fellow. He is an ex-policeman and is military to the nth degree. He snaps to attention every time I appear, camps on my door step when I am in the room and follows me like a shadow when I go out anywhere. I lost fully an hour and a half of my daily afternoon siesta today trying to think up something for him to do, but with no success. His sum total of labor for his first day on the job was to open the door for me twice when I returned to the room. However I intend to use him for improving my Malay after he unbends a little and gets the ramrod out of his spine. Stanley and the other 3 of our party are staying in the annex so Stan mustered his squad of four, marched them over and parked one outside each of the four room doors, awaiting the return of Prince, Hans and Dick. Jordan has devised a splendid occupation for his man. He supplied him with a box of matches. He watches Jordan like a hawk and when he reaches for a cigarette or the one he is smoking shows signs of going out, up jumps the valet with a lighted match and remedies the situation. As I am not smoking, this, alas, can't solve my problem.

In New Guinea, however, it will be another matter. The boys will cook, make camp and generally make themselves useful. They are good jungle men and there will be a thousand and one uses for them when we once start inland. {p. 19}

This evening there was a dance at the Eendracht Club. The few women present were in great demand and had a fine time with all the handsome officers from the fleet on the job. I left at 2 A.M. The Governor and the Captain of the Java were both present.

CreditsPermissionsMore Expeditions & Voyages