Being already for some time in Palu, one day I judged that it was about the right time to get moving and start my way southwards through the island of Sulawesi. My first destination would be, as it turned out by these haphazard circumstances typically occurring when traveling, the Lore Lindu lake. So, one fair morning, me and two friends, we found ourselves striving to communicate with the people in the bus terminal of Palu, so to arrange the transportation means by which we were soon to be carried out of there. After the performance of all the necessary gestures and pantomime aided by one’s intuition and surmising skills that such a task requires between people who in general cannot understand the least of each other’s words had given results, we finally had managed to arrange a car to drive us to the village of Wuasa for 80000 IDR. After a while more, the three of us, three more locals, plus the driver, we were starting our journey on that 4×4 vehicle fit to do the hard work which awaited us.
The trip was long and tiresome, and the road was not anything like one is usually prompt to call a road. It rather was a complemented with plank-bridges narrow strip of coarse ground dug flat out of the abrupt mountain slopes. Although tiresome, the trip wasn’t any tedious at all. The eye could constantly be busy wondering at the wild dramatic mountains, the vast ancient forests covering them, the plentitude of swift rivers and streams running furiously down their slopes, the strait cultivated valleys hosting the abodes of their little mountain human communities, and every sort of sublimely beautiful imagery one may see in such a remote and pristine, uncorrupted of human vanity, region of our planet.
In the early afternoon, after all, we had made it to our destination and we were dropped off by our driver at a homestay of very peaceful environs. The name of it was something like “Shenty” – I don’t remember exactly, but one should encounter no difficulty finding it as it was the only available accommodation in the village as far as I was able to see. Soon after we had settled tidily into our room, we were out in search of some means to visit the national park and a megalithic monument – the sort of thing remaining to evince what was to happen when a pack of primeval people was to decide for, who knows what reason, to undertake the super-fatiguing effort of transporting a bunch of huge rocks in the middle of a field – situated somewhere about in vicinity, the day after. We roamed around without any success for some time, till we met a girl who had some rudimentary English, she invited us inside her home, and, after she well understood what we were looking for, she offered to help up us in our quest. She first led us to the clinic of the village, where she introduced us to their doctor who was the only person in the village who possessed some proper English. He was a very kind young guy and he informed us of – a thing I was totally unaware of until that very moment – the danger bestowed upon our impending expedition, by a group of Afghan IS-related terrorists operating in the surrounding mountains, and known, as for the latest days, to be lurking around that very megalithic site we were to visit. We thanked that guy for all the information he gave us and we left the clinic for ending up at the police department… That sounds bad, I know, though, unlike what a visit to such a place customarily is meant to imply, in that particular case nothing was wrong about it. Passing by chance outside their station, we just got invited courteously by the cops inside, so to share with them their idle afternoon drinking coffee, playing table-tennis, taking pictures and chatting. They also further informed us of the situation concerning the terrorists and suggested that it is not a possibility to head up the mountains.
Next morning, as we, after all, managed to find a car, and despite the warnings, we had computed the chance of an actual threat being minimal, we decided to take the risk and drive up to the megaliths. However, we didn’t get that far. Only a few kilometers after the village we ran into a military post, where we got stopped, got our passports photographed, got informed of fighting taking place up there at this very moment, and we plainly were compelled to turn back. We then understood for good that there was nothing anymore to do there, so we headed back to the village purposing to arrange a car to take us to the city of Poso next morning. Things though had taken an unfavorable course and didn’t seem like eager to be reversed. Later that evening we got a visit at the lodge from some army people who came to inform us that the road to Poso was closed and the only way to leave the village is to go back to Palu, wherefrom we can get to Poso via the main road, a trip which would require a minimum of two full days instead of 5 hours by going directly to Poso. They stayed with us a good deal of time drinking tea and discussing (somehow) the progress of their operations, displaying to us also the pictures of some belly-open bodies of terrorists they had managed to chase down in a helicopter raid that morning in their mobile phones.
Next morning, things seemed, in the beginning, to get yet worse for us. The girl at the lodge was supposed to give a call to that guy who would drive us to Palu, but the mobile reception, due to military operations apparently, was down in the entire village. A bit later on, when we had made it ourselves to the house of that guy, it seemed that he had already left to Palu. It was at about that moment when chance finally took our side. While standing there frustrated and quite impotent as to do anything at all, we discerned a van driving down the street. Upon halting him and inquiring of his destination, we got to hear of it being Poso. Without a second thought we got inside the car and after about 5 hours of coarse driving through the desolate wild mountains and the crossing of several military blocks we had made it to Poso.