On the first day I arrived in Central Sulawesi’s Palu, an ojek (motorcycle taxi) driver called Juaenun drove me to the Argam Bab Al Rahman Mosque, otherwise known as the Floating Mosque.
Half of the mosque was inundated by seawater after a 7.4-magnitude earthquake and an ensuing tsunami struck the city in September 2018.
The disaster claimed 2,141 lives and damaged thousands of buildings in the city.
I heard him saying softly, “It will take a long, long time before everything returns to normal. A long time.”
These words echoed in my ears as I traveled along Talise Beach, where piles of debris were still scattered on the roadside.
In Petobo and Balaroa, areas impacted by soil liquefaction, houses were still in ruins. Where there used to be a village in Petobo, now there was no sign of life.
But life in Palu was slowly returning back to normal. Fishermen went back to the sea, while farmers went back to the fields two months after the disaster. All acknowledged their great fear of the ocean, but they fought back to survive and to make a living. [wng]