"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 23, 1926 : Ambon

April 23

This morning we had a conference with the Governor and arranged plans for communication with Manokweri [sic, = Manokwari] and the Mamberamo. Two months after the Albatross leaves Pioneer Camp she is scheduled to return. We also made arrangements for the sending and receiving of mail, freight and express which may come to Ambon. I went out in the sago swamp this afternoon and {p. 29} watched a couple of natives fell a sago palm, split it with wooden wedges and start to work on it. I took a few pictures. The Albatross is all loaded and we could have sailed this morning but this is Friday and the old superstition holds good with our skipper. This evening we sat on the "Esplanade" veranda and watched chic-chacs [sic, = cicak (plural, Malay) "geckos"] hunting. These little creatures are a never failing source of interest. They are the shape of lizards, from 1 to 7 inches long of a light translucent tan color with large jet black eyes. They are in every house and come out in the evening when the lights are lit, running with equal impartiality on the walls and the ceiling. They select a likely looking territory and defend it against trespassors [sic]. They are quick as lightning when they want to be, but can stalk a fly or a bug with the patience of Job. They wait until they are in range, then a flash and the fly is gone. They get themselves into all sorts of bizarre positions and freeze there is an insect is moving in the vicinity. They will tackle any insect no matter how big and usually get him. They are quite harmless and are often tamed and taken into the mosquito net bed covers to keep them clear of mosquitoes at night. They have a chirping call which gives them their name. They are common in all the East Indian Islands.

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