One of the things I like most about being a geologist is meeting an amazingly vast diversity of people.  Every one of the people on this page has a life - just like you and I do - with hopes, dreams, memories, love, embarassments, fears, ... every feeling that you and I feel!  I can't even hope to do the people in these photos justice in describing them, so I'm just going to post their photos and let you try to imagine the complexity of their lives.
Lasito was assigned to work with me while mapping underground.  I'd only very rarely ever mapped with someone (I'd always mapped alone), so I was worried that company would slow me down.  I'm sure he thought something along the lines of, "Of all the luck!  I have work to do - I can't just squander my time away babysitting some bulai!"   ("Bulai" is the Indonesian equivalent of gringo.)  In very short order we became friends, however, and Lasito remains to this day one of the people in this world I respect very highly.
Utu (left) was the core shed manager - he made sure things got done there.  He had a fancy aluminum hard hat with impressions of mining scenes worked into the metal.  It was one of a kind!
These guys (right) are the draftsmen in the engineering building by the mill.  They were nice guys who were usually too busy to help - very suspicious behavior for such a group!
Joko (right) was a sort of helper for underground work trusted with sampling the walls of the tunnels, delivering things to various places, etc.  I think that he always has a smile on his face - a good guy!
Stacie really took advantage of the opportunity to get to know people from all of the different cultures.  We kiddingly called her "ratu Stacie" (queen Stacie) because she seem to get along with everyone!  These guys are some of the Papuans who worked at the core shed in the high country.
Three beautiful women!  Lana (on the left) was a student working for the summer.  I think she's now working in the petroleum industry.  Effie (center) was the office secretary - very quiet and traditional young woman.  That's Stacie on the right, of course.
These are some of the guys that worked at the core shed at the exploration office in Tembagapura.  They used to sing a little song in what I suppose was the amungme language, but I couldn't tell for sure.  I learned the song, but only in the way a mima bird learns songs. 
Most of the Papuans had names that end in "us," such as Pranus, Demianus, Julianus, etc.  I suppose that is an impression made from the times that Indonesia was a Dutch colony.  That's Demius on the right - mister cool!
Julianus was a hard worker - he was a carpenter of sorts who made our sample boxes.  His son came to work to visit him one day and Julianus radiated pride.  His son goes to school (that's why he's so dressed up).  I ran into Julianus one day at the non-expat market and he was stressed.  He needed to buy his son a blank notebook for school and he didn't have any money with him.  Stacie bought him a notebook and he was amazingly grateful. 
I spent a fair amount of time studying drill core at the "Mile 66 Core Shed."  The company assigned a couple guys to help me move the core boxes around.  I was lugging rocks with one of the fellows, when I noticed the second guy had disappeared for quite a while - longer than a reasonable bathroom break.  I looked over at the guy who was still with me and asked using body language where the guy went.  He didn't know.  A few minutes later, we heard a yelp, so the remaining worker went to investigate.  After another 10 minutes, when he didn't return, I went looking for them.  I found them sitting on a 5-foot (1.5 meter) high pile of old time cards stored in a big shipping container, humming away happily as they removed the rubber bands they'd make into jewelry.  The security guard was right there with them, collecting rubber bands. 
Stacie was always amazingly great about getting in there and mixing with the locals.  I really think she ought to get a job with National Geographic or Smithsonian if she ever tires of geology.  She liked to try doing what she saw indigenous people doing because experience is better than just watching.
Here, she's sifting topsoil at the nursery and trying on one of the carrying bags that the Papuans use instead of backpacks (they have a band that wraps around your forehead instead of straps for your shoulders).
The women on the left are a group who were waiting for the bus.

Pranus here came out of the dripping jungle while I was logging core alone one day.  He was carrying a machete and speaks no English. He turned out to be a nice fellow who was just out looking for kuskus (tree kangaroos).
Some Papuans walking to the mine
Freeport Indonesia provides free helicopter transport for Papuan tribespeople in order to facilitate commerce between villages.  Considering the cost of helicopter time, this is incredibly generous.  Travel between tribal villages can be days by foot.  Flying also helps because people don't have to lug their bags through the extraordinarily steep and dense jungle. 
On the other hand, if the mine ever closes (which could be 100 years in the future - who knows?), then these people could be stuck with a dependency on a service that someday stops.  Building nice foot-roads through the jungle will be incredibly difficult, so I don't know what the answer is for this one!  These people are all waiting for a ride to their villages on the helicopter. 

People waiting for the helicopter

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