National Geographic : 1945 Jan
Seafarers of South Celebes became more and more excited as the night went on, the women and children sang calmly without show ing any emotion. Many of the children slept. In the early hours of the morning the sing ing suddenly stopped, and all who were still awake made frantic grabs at cakes and fruit that hung from the ceiling and walls of the mosque. And the Wall Came Tumbling Down! After the interval the singing went on, still wilder than be fore. The men who were near me were leaping up and flinging their arms into the air. One of them slipped, caught at the next to recover his balance, and then five of them went down together, crashing against the wall. A long rumbling roar followed. Part of the wall had collapsed, and heavy coral boulders were rolling down the side of the hill on which the mosque was built. But as the roof was sup ported not by the walls but by strong timber pil lars, the building stood Bacho, the Mate, Prays to Allah in the Ship's Dugout When the sea pitched, Bacho used the small boat because its sides gave elbows and feet a grip. On deck he might have struck his forehead, as his hands clutched his knees. Often as not, Mecca, the focus of his devotions, was behind him. A mischievous sailor placed sticky coconut below Bacho's forehead just as it touched bottom (page 55). firm. No one gave a thought to the collapse of the wall, and the singing went on-"Allah! Ah! Hu! Ah! Allahu! Ah! Hu! Ah!" until at last, through an open door at the east side of the mosque, beyond dark palms, ap peared the faint gray light of dawn. Before I arrived in Bira I intended to have a bamboo and palm-thatched house built by the beach, where I could live near my growing ship. But when I saw the local guesthouse a small wooden pavilion on the side of a steep hill, with a fine view over the Gulf of Bone (Golf van Bone), I decided to stay there. I hired one of the Karaeng's retainers to do odd jobs and cook for me; as I lived on local food, he had no difficulty in preparing my simple meals. Very little food grows in the country around Bira, as there is hardly any good soil and most of the rain that falls here sinks straight down into the porous honeycombed limestone that forms this corner of Celebes. Maize, the staple food of most Birans, is imported from Salajar, and rice from Soembawa and Lom bok. Every three days there is a market, to which come trains of pack horses from the more fertile land to the north, bringing fruit and vegetables, brown palm sugar, tobacco, cloth, soap, and sundry wares.