Hedda and Ernst
Monday, November 19, 2012 at 10:21AM


Notes page from The Ecology and Management of Non-Timber Forest Resources. Highlighted passage reads: "The basic text of this report was written over an eight-month period from 1991 to 1992 while the author was in residence in West Kalimantan, Indonesia conducting fieldwork". What isn't explained is that the text was written in the back bedroom of Hedda and Ernst Kuester's house in Pontianak.

Elysa and I had just come back to West Kalimantan after a brief trip to the U.S. so that our first son, Case (see Many Years Ago in Pontianak), could meet his grandparents. When we got back to our house on Jl. Jenderal Urip in Pontianak, we found out that there was no water. It had been a very dry summer and water from the South China Sea was slowly moving up into the Kapuas River, the source of water for the city. To avoid pumping salt water through the pipes - and ruining them- the city opted to turn off the water. Not a promising situation to be in with a nine-month old baby. 

Our German friends, Ernst and Hedda Kuester (shown below with Theo, their adopted Indonesian son), had just moved into a nice new house with a large water tank, air conditioning, two-car garage, and manicured front yard. Ernst was the director of a large GTZ project and his housing allowance was a bit more substantial than mine. Anyway, when they found out that we had no water, they immediately said "Why don't you just move in with us?" We did. And we lived with these dear, gracious people for over a year.  And I wrote my first book in their back bedroom.

[NOTES: Ernst passed away several years ago (sigh); Hedda and Theo are back in Hamburg. Truly an amazing, wonderful time sharing life in Western Borneo with this German couple. My non-timber forest resources book  is currently out of print, but I have posted a copy in the Bibliography section]. 

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