In The Ring of Fire

The sky is cloudless and the sea is calm as the ship makes its way slowly out of the harbour on Sulawesi. This is the start of its journey through part of the Ring of Fire. The Ring of Fire is the name given to a chain of hundreds of active volcanoes that almost encircle the Pacific Ocean…

At a safe distance from the shore, the crew hoist the sails and the ship speeds on. The ship is a black-sailed ship called a prahu. This is traditional sailing ship of the Bugis islanders who are sea-traders. For thousands of years, the Bugis traded widely among the thousand of small islands of Indonesia, but nowadays they trade mainly between the larger islands of Sulawesi, Java and Borneo.

As the prahu leaves the protection of the shore, and sails out into the Banda sea, dolphins somersault round the boat. It is heading for the volcanic island of Banda.

At Banda the ship is loaded with red nutmegs. These will be ground into a rich fruity spice.

The prahu sets off again, this time for the island of Aru. As the ship approaches the island, excited voices are heard on one of the fishing boats anchored on the coral reef. A diver has just found a magnificent pearl. Pearls are rare. Only one oyster in about 50,000 contains one. But the shell of the golden-lipped oyster is also valuable for its beautiful mother-of-pearl…

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