Jeff Warner PHOTOGRAPHIC, Golden, Colorado, USA

Friday, October 21, 2011

10/21/11: Last day in Panang, Malaysia

Today Heidi took the boys downtown while I walked to an old cemetery that we’d previously driven by, and having become immediately transfixed by its ethereal allure, I knew I had to go. The graves were mostly from the mid- to late-1800s, and many gravestones said either what the person did for work, or how they died. The cemetery was damp, lush, green, but unfortunately the harsh sunlight through the trees did nothing for my images. Not the kind of light I want for a cemetery. I’ve always been fascinated by cemeteries, perhaps since my college days at Day Hall, perched atop Mount Olympus, overlooking Syracuse University on one side, Morningside Cemetery on the other. Such a beautiful place in the fall, when the leaves are changing. 

I met up with Heidi and the boys for lunch, then we headed back to the ship so that the boys and I could meet up for the FDP to St. Joseph’s Home, right downtown, maybe 1.5 km from the ship. Heidi always needs to be at the ship prior to ‘on-ship’ time, as the medical team has open clinic for students and staff returning from these faraway places we’ve been visiting. In addition to things like malaria, yellow and dengue fevers that we never see in the states, there are other assorted things to be fully aware of. Along these lines, Dr. Phil got to free one kid’s pet from his arm, presumably picked up in Ghana. At first looking like an infected mosquito bite or something, after awhile—get ready—it started moving underneath the skin. Dr. Phil made an incision, and out crawled a 1.4cm maggot. Not a worm, a maggot. Apparently it’s a Buntu Fly larva, and it is somehow able to burrow into your skin within about 25 seconds, a few weeks after which you hatch a new pet for your collection. For the record, the ship’s medical crew (on board every voyage for the last umpteen years) had never seen this. Turns out all my trying to scare Tate into some semblance of decent personal hygiene wasn’t so ridiculous after all!


Anyway, there were several other families along for this orphanage trip (usually the boys are the only ones on these things, at least the ones we’ve been on thus far), and when we got there we learned that 1) they didn’t appear to be expecting us, and 2) no pictures of the children could be taken within the premises. I haven’t run into this before, and instead of letting us roam around the facility, they sat us in an open-air room, where 20+ kids joined us to play. Kind of strange, but I suppose my frame of reference is rather skewed.
Some of the college students had brought some stickers and bubbles, and they all played games and sang songs. Tate, Reade, and some of the boys headed around a corner where they were kicking a soccer ball around in a breezeway, and I realized that on the other side of the wall was the cemetery I’d photographed that morning. Fortunately for me, the boys kicked the ball over the wall, so I found someone to unlock the gate to retrieve it, and I got a second opportunity to photograph the cemetery with an overcast sky and an f/2.8 lens, which I hadn’t had with me earlier.


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