"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 15, 1926 : Ambon

April 15th

This morning at about 8 o'clock we entered the beautiful harbour of Ambon. It is a splendid natural deep water land locked harbour and is the oldest port of the East Indies. Now, however, it has but little importance, though it is still the residence of the governor of the Moluccas. When we came in, the cruiser Java and two destroyers were in the harbour. We were greeted at the dock with a military band and were presented to the skipper of the "Java" and the government officials, who gave us the "key to the city". {p. 16}

Ambon itself is only a small village with a very cosmopolitan population. In the natives, for the first time the Melanesian blood is quite evident. Arabs and Chinese constitute most of the business men of the town. The streets are very narrow and the houses, including the hotels are of nipa palm. Earthquakes are very frequent here. Once in fifty years at fairly regular sequence they have a very severe quake which levels everything to the ground. They are expecting the big quake now anytime, as it is already two years overdue. Last night there was a fairly heavy quake here. As a result of the heavy quakes, none of the old 17th and 18th century structures are standing excepting the old fortress.

We moved off the Fomalhout, bag and baggage and are now staying with Hoffman and Jordan at the Hotel Esplanade. This afternoon I took in a football game, along with most of the rest of Ambon, between the sailors of Java and the army post here. During the day most of the cargo was unloaded from the Fomalhout onto the dock where the material for the first trip of the Albatross will be selected. Dick and Prince in response to a bet of 25 guilder cents, dived off the 2nd deck of the Fomalhout with their clothes on, much to the dismay of all spectators who have a wholesome fear of the sharks that infest these waters. Near the old Fort a section of beach is fenced off with a shark-proof bamboo paling, where all swimming is done.

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