Skip to content

Guest Blogger: Molly Prince Among The Borneo, Indonesia Orangutans

July 9, 2014
Orangutans - photo credit: Molly Prince, Borneo, Indonesia

Orangutans – photo credit: Molly Prince, Borneo, Indonesia

(Note: This summer I was thrilled to participate in a trip through OFI (Orangutan Foundation International) in which we got to see orangutans in the rainforest of Indonesia. We also got to meet Dr. Birute Galdikas, who has been studying and advocating for orangutans in Indonesia for over 40 years.)


So Vivid Yet So Fleeting
By Molly Prince

My dad suggested I write about the trip
because the experience is
so vivid yet so fleeting.
And he is right.
I can feel Indonesia
from my consciousness
at an alarming rate
as Denver floods back in.
Denver with its dry air and Western food and high technology.

My cats and my people,
tap water I can drink and internet and phone and
quiet invaded by ambulance sirens
instead of the constant chirping of birds
and whirring of insects of Indonesia
with the hot, humid air, rice and tofu,
chicken and shrimp, cooked greens and potatoes,
dangerous tap water, mango, pineapple and durian fruit,
traffic jams and overcrowded Jakarta and the serenity of the Sakonyer River,
selamat pagi and terima kasih,
women in colorful head coverings, Muslim prayer calls,
crocodiles and black water rivers.

There is the background.
The main points seem very simple.
The gorgeous rainforest
pulsing with life
home to the majestic orangutan and a rich ecosystem
including proboscis monkeys, Bornean bearded pigs, clouded leopards,
hornbills, butterflies – a seemingly endless list.
All being destroyed
just a little bit left
like the glacier at Glacier National Park
so that people can have junk food and money.
We all need money.
But we don’t need to be billionaires.
Palm oil plantation owners are billionaires.

Not just the orangutans but the whole ecosystem.
Not just the eco-system but all the ecosystems.
Not just all the ecosystems but
the macro system,
the earth
all the systems of the earth that work together
to make the planet hospitable to life.
Not hospitable to life = climate crisis = we can not eat money.
“Only when the last tree has been cut down,
the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught
will we realize we can not eat money.”*

Then there are the orangutan themselves.
They are interesting and humanlike and
I love listening to Dr. Birute talk about orangutans
and evolution and their social structures and
it was an incredible experience of a lifetime
to be so close to them.
I am honored and I love them.
They are the star of the show.
But also, it is the show as a whole that I care about.

Dr. Birute Galdikas.
Also the star of the show.
A celebrity to me
although her personality is
certainly not that of a celebrity.
Deliberate and thoughtful
brilliant and patient
stubborn, tenacious and fragile.
I love her.
She has done a superhuman amount.
She has worked miracles.
And still, it is possible that
it won’t be enough.

Irene said, “most people’s favorite is the care center.”
The care center is not my favorite.
It was amazing to see the orangutans there
but the care center makes me sad.
It begins and ends with sad
it does have magic and hard work and
international co-operation
in the middle.
It begins with orphaned orangutans
mamas killed
rainforest killed
And it ends with
where are these orangutans to go?
Saved and cared for and ready to
be released back into the wild
and there is
not enough wild.

My favorite is the orangutans in the jungle.
My favorite is the orangutan babies with their mamas
in the jungle.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Phil Jones permalink
    July 9, 2014 6:31 pm

    Molly, you are a good writer! This poetic essay is the proof. However, I recommend that you drop two words out of the piece: “interesting” and “incredible.” Neither word tells the reader anything. Otherwise, the writing is specific, sharp, clear, and informative! Take a bow, Molly! (I also envy you your trip.)

  2. July 10, 2014 2:19 am

    a gentle and present rendition of a powerful and prophetic witnessing – merci!

    • July 10, 2014 2:42 am

      Robert…comment ca va? J’aime bien ton photo avec les baguettes. J’espere que la vie t’a bien traite.. Rob

      • July 10, 2014 6:26 am

        ah oui la vie me traite très bien – depuis ma retraite, j’offre des classes et des moules pour la cuisson des baguettes et un cabaret racontant l’histoire de ma famille (France > Canada > USA) en chansons québécoises et françaises

        j’aime bien suivre tes écrits et d’apprendre petit à petit de ta vie – et que il y a une autre Mollie!!!

        Bonne continuation!


        • July 10, 2014 8:40 am

          oui…bonne continuation.. je vais voire les “links” que vous m’avez envoye…merci

  3. Brian LaCarrubba permalink
    July 12, 2014 3:21 am

    Vivid and powerful writing. Thanks for sharing and I look forward to hearing more about the trip soon.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: