One night in Ujung Pandang (Makassar), we were peddled by becak to an old world harbor, Pelabuhan Paotero, where the wooden and colorful Bugi (Phinisi) schooners load and unload their cargoes from around the thousands of small Indonesian islands.
We moved through congested traffic with heavy diesel trucks, massive fumes, passing Pelni Harbor which was busy with commercial container cargo, using modern port mobile cranes moving along their rails.
We met our goal to be at the old harbor docks by 5 p.m. for the best photography. Our 1st glimpse conjured up a scene out of the 19th century: sweaty, lean and hard-muscled brown-skinned men toting huge loads on their backs. One vessel was taking on 25 kg bags of flour off a truck, onto the backs of the laborers and into the hold, via 2 planks leading from the dock to the ship’s deck.
Anwar, a 50+ year old laborer, stood out as a lean, sinewy, wispy-bearded, and handsome man with wise eyes and a stoic presence. He sported a head scarf, du-rag style, wrapped in a rakish manner. He would have been a pirate in another era. They would load his back up with 4 of these sacks (220 lbs., half again his weight) and he would walk slowly but firmly up these planks which would sag with the weight, walk over to the hold, turn, and fling the bags down below the deck.
I actually took one of the bags on my back and walked the plank to the hold, taking great care! Up close and personal with the locals; nothing beats it!.