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Duckweed Hunting Directions

March 7, 2017

Duckweed Hunt of late February, 2017- around the International airport of Jakarta, Indonesia. I purposely booked a flight so I would land in the late morning, before the heavy afternoon rains kicked in. I’ve got this thing down pat now and am going to share how to duckweed hunt in one of the largest cities in the world.

  1. When you exit the airport, a swarm of taxi drivers will surround you. Ask them in plain English, “What kind of music do you play in your taxi?” Or some such. Inevidibly one of them will say in broken English, “I play our national folk music” or the answer I like best,”Whatever kind you like, Mrs.” You want that guy. He will understand what you want to do after some heavy explaining.
  2. You get in his taxi and show him pictures of duckweed on water and a close up of it on fingers. You tell him you are a scientist. You tell him you will pay the metered rate and buy him a Coke. You tell him you will need him for up to two hours. You tell him to head for the side streets by where the farmers are raising vegetables. Do NOT tell him you want to go where the women are washing clothes in the canals. Trust me on that one- you will get the grand tour of women washing clothes in sewer/storm runoff canals. He will delight in pretending to gag every time he sees a poor woman washing her clothes.
  3. You direct him up and down the streets looking for quiet small ponds between clusters of businesses or houses. You are looking for small, forgotten waterways that do not drain quickly. You cruse go up and down streets, him looking for women washing clothes and you looking for duckweed. After about 30 minutes to an hour, you will start to think it is all a wild goose chase, then suddenly, boom! The prettiest duckweed pond is right there, glistening green in the heart of a Jakarta suburb.
  4. You gather up three new garbage bags if you had the foresight to purchase them up front, or do a quick look for an Alfamart (like a 7-11 store) that can be found on every street corner.
  5. You walk along a narrow muddy path toward that pond in your airplane shoes (if you are like me) and try hard not to slip into the rice paddies. You let your taxi driver do all the talking to the farmer that owns the pond. You’ll get the green light, if nothing more than for entertainment value.
  6. You and your taxi driver/best buddy because by this time you know his taste in music, how old all his kids are, what his dreams are for getting rich, and what religion he is- you and he are now a team. He collects the duckweed with whatever ragged net-like cloth and a stick the two of you can scrounge up and you hold the garbage bag open. Take pictures of you, of him, of the pond, and of the duckweed in your garbage bag.
  7. When you’ve collected as much as you want, do pay the farmer a token sum of money and have your buddy translate for you a three minute elevator pitch on how valuable duckweed is and all the great things the farmer could be doing with it to save money on feed or biofertilizer. Maybe a few more photos of you with the farmer’s family and a few neighbors. It’s all good.
  8. Triple bag your duckweed and slip slide back to the taxi. By now it will have begun to rain and your shoes will be toast. You will not care. The world is a wonderful place because you have duckweed hunted in the most unlikely of places and bagged your trophy.
  9. Buy your buddy that Coke and give him a tip. All told, you will have spent probably ten to fifteen dollars for a cool experience.

Get to your destination as soon as you can and transplant your duckweed. Enjoy!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    August 29, 2020 12:14 pm

    I LOVED this story! I just got my daily chuckle reading this over my morning coffee! Thank you!


  2. Sue permalink
    March 7, 2017 1:51 pm

    WELL DONE!!!


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