"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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May 13, 1926 : Albatross Camp (Base Camp) ; Mamberamo River

May 13th

Today the Albatross completed her unloading and now the personnel of our camp is doubled. However, the camp was so well started when the Albatross returned that there has been very little confusion in getting all of the men quartered. This afternoon Capt. Posthumous, le Roux, Van Leeuwen and I discussed plans for establishing our upper camp by aeroplane. As the natives of the Rouffar river are an uncertain quantity, there is considerable risk in the first few flights for two reasons. One, the danger of being stranded far from the source of supplies without food or means of return; the second and perhaps the greater, the danger from the natives to a few men. We are hoping that the plane will impress the natives so much that they will not cause us trouble. Saturday morning Hans and I[,] with about 200 kilos of food and other supplies[,] will fly to the upper Rouffar, weather permitting, and select a landing place as far up the river as possible. There we will land and cache our food supply. The next day, we will again {p. 63} make a flight with load and deposit it with the first. Then on the third flight, all going well, Le Roux; Anji Ipoei and I will go up with the plane and remain, establishing the camp. Then the plane will continue bringing food and Dyaks (we hope) until there are 20 men with food for 2 months at the upper camp.

"Ipoei visited us again last night."

We were treated to a bigger and better thunder storm than usual tonight and the river was full of floating logs. The river is still falling more rapidly each day. We are hoping it will continue to drop, but Anji says the river is uncertain at best. Tonight my golden locks fell before the clippers, with Prince as amputator. Stanley is now the only one who has not yet joined the order of shaved pates. When we have nothing else to do we fish for catfish in the river. They are quite abundant and furnish a welcome addition to our larder of dengue-dengue [sic, = dendeng], {*} rice and dried fish. Ipoei visited us again last night. He told us that when he left Borneo he had a young wife, but fearing she would not remain true to him over a year's absence, he gave her freedom, so he is now a bachelor. He has had ten wives. He says he will get a new one when he returns. He also told Stanley quite seriously, that he had made a mistake not to have done the same.

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