Thursday, June 17, 2010

Only in Gorontalo!

My friend Abbie, the ELF in Jakarta, came to visit me in Gorontalo recently. I picked her up at the airport and then we set off on a sightseeing tour of the town. Over the span of three days Abbie got to see a lot of what makes Gorontalo such an original place to visit.

Our first stop was at the Exotic Café where we had lunch by the ocean and watched cows and goats stroll lazily up and down the beach.

Then we went up to the old Portuguese fortress in Limboto that is made from the shells of bird eggs, among other things.

We also passed by Gorontalo’s newest tourist attraction – The T-Shit Store! I seriously don’t know if they just forgot the ‘r’ or if the store is intentionally named that. In any event, I also pointed out this store to my students and told them that it should be a lesson to them on the importance of spelling!

Then we went on a road trip and passed through the little village of Pulubalu, which is known for its roadside stands of steaming towers of corn. Back home on Long Island there’s also a lot of fresh corn for sale at roadside vegetable stands, but it’s all raw. I think it’s pure genius to sell already cooked corn – it’s the perfect snack. America could actually learn a thing or two from the Gorontalese here.

We stopped at Bolihutuo Beach for a quick swim and a delicious lunch of ikan bakar and dabu dabu iris. I’m pleased to report that Abbie is now a big fan of fresh grilled fish with Gorontalo’s own tomato/onion/chili salsa. At the rumah makan we happened to meet some members of a Gorontalo motorcycle club called the Gorontalo Tigers. We duly posed for photos with one of the guys and his bike - and then some other guy jumped in the picture too.

Finally we reached our destination – the 100 year old Bajo stilt village called Torosiaje. Life in Torosiaje revolves around the water.

We met this man who showed us how he repairs nylon fishing nets by hand. The nets seem so fragile! I imagine he spends a lot of his time knotting them back together.

We also met this little girl who was excited to show off her swimming skills. I was particularly intrigued by her traditional goggles fashioned out of wood and glass.

Then we went snorkeling off a tiny island near Torosiaje. We both found some cool stuff to take pictures of underwater. Abbie (who borrowed my modern plastic goggles) really liked the blue starfish and I was thrilled to find some cute blue belly blennies, which are endemic to Tomini Bay.

Gorontalo is definitely one of a kind! I'm glad I could share the experience with Abbie.


  1. I am sitting in my apartment in Chicago having just entered all my grades for the spring term and watching a major thunderstorm out my window. And I read "t-shit store" and almost chocked on my Cranberry Spumante.

    Thanks for making me laugh.

  2. You're welcome! When Abbie got back to Jakarta she found a store called 'Damn I Love Indonesia'. Hilariously funny for those in the throes of culture shock!