"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 20, 1926 : Albatross Camp (Base Camp) ; Mamberamo River

May 20th

"The river continues to drop rapidly..."

This morning was clear, but it rained a good part of the afternoon. As there was no particular activity in camp I spent a good part of the day reading to get my mind off other {p. 80} troubles, as thinking about them does no good. Dick left early this morning with some Dyaks on a hunting trip again. He again saw a cassowary but did not get one. Brought home a large hornbill after an all day hunt. Today has been a Dyak holiday. They are busily engaged in carving a large wooden image to set up in camp. They already have erected "ghost scarers" made by shaving poles with their knives so that a large bunch of shavings hang from the end. They have been particularly careful in this respect as to our house and their own. Our radio persistently refuses to work. Both the army and the navy sets have tried with all sorts of arrangements of aerials and wave lengths, but cannot reach Manokwari. Of course, they can receive, the important thing is to send. They have received word that the Albatross will not arrive tomorrow, but on the 22nd. The river continues to drop rapidly, and we are kept busy moving our various floats farther out on the river each day, and removing logs and shags [sic, = snags] from the river in front of camp, which the low water exposes and which constitute a menace to the plane. One big log has shown up just behind the float and will have to be removed at once or the plane will be sitting on it in another 24 hours.

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