Wednesday, the rally had organized a trip to the whaling village. The tour was sold with high hopes that we would witness first hand the capture and slaughter of a whale. We opted out of it for two reasons: I am a fan of whales and am diametrically opposed to the practice of whaling regardless of the fact that it is part of Indonesian culture to hunt and kill whales for whatever their good reasons may be; and secondly, the tour was an 8-hour roundtrip bus ride over roads that hardly constitute a passable track. Actually the second part never had a chance to make it past the first reason. A bus load of cruisers did elect to make the trip.
We decided to explore the parts of town we'd not yet seen and to find the very nice fresh market, a very good restaurant and a pharmacy said to be somewhere around town. We set off with Evelyn and Peter who were carrying a small engine needing repair. Evelyn and I left the boys at the repair place and walked around browsing the little lean-to shops. My backpack's zippers had all oxidized and I needed a replacement. We passed by several shops with backpacks on display so I chose one at random. After haggling with the man over the 600,000 IDR he was asking, I got him down to 500,000 IDR for my backpack. In translation, I paid approximately $5.00 (USD) for my new Adidas-knockoff backpack. It may fall apart in a few months, but for this price I'm not worried. We continued shopping, ending up at a pharmacy next door to the repair shop where Evelyn stocked up on Amoxicillin at the amazing price of 20 - 500 mg. tablets for 14,000 IDR (approx. $1.40). I searched in vain for suntan lotion. We'd left Australia thinking we had a locker full, only to find that we were not so well stocked. Indonesians do not wear sunscreen, making it a precious commodity if found here. The shop lady searched and searched her shelves finally coming up with a Vaseline brand lotion that contained SPF 24. I bought it. By now we'd been waiting for nearly 2 hours for Peter's motor repair and yet the end was nowhere in sight so Frank and I told them we would meet up later on and set off exploring. We are becoming accustomed to the locals yelling, "Hey Meestair, Halo, Meestair" to us. I began pointing to myself, saying "Missus, not Mister". They would look baffled and just laugh. Usually along with this greeting came the touching. They really want to touch us, shake our hands, try to speak English and so we oblige them. We eventually stumbled upon the fresh market and loaded our backpacks with watermelons papayas, bananas, cabbage and shallots. Eventually, at around 3:00, we also located the "best restaurant in town" called Berkat. We ordered our lunch - and sat back to marvel at the prices. My lunch cost 13,000 IDR ($1.30). Frank's was 15,000. Unbelievable. Evelyn and Peter caught up with us at Berkat around 3:45 announcing that the engine is kaput and they are buying a new one. We sat for quite a while visiting while the boys consumed adequate quantities of gargantuan bottles of Bintang beers.
Back at the waterfront we saw that cruisers were gathering at the beer tent. I was exhausted and covered in red and black dirt, ready to head home for a shower but we were encouraged to stick around for "just one" with the gang. A few minutes later the group that had toured the whaling village returned with aching backs and numb bottoms from the long bus ride announcing that the tour was "OK" but not worth the long trip over land. Blessedly they did not have to witness a whale killing.
Thursday morning, we awakened ready to leave Lewoleba. The prayers are becoming louder and more frequent - nearly on the hour now although we have no idea why. My throat was raw from breathing volcanic dust and ash and there was a strong and nauseating diesel smell in the air. Time to go. We will miss the trip to a weaving village and Independence Day festivities tomorrow and the 18th, but are craving some down time. Stuart and Sheila called on the radio urging us to join them and several others at a beautiful anchorage just 6 miles away where the snorkeling is great. So by 10:00 AM we said our farewells and left. Somehow we managed to get a nice lift from the wind gods and managed to sail all the way over to the pristine little anchorage. It was nestled in between two small islands and flanked by reefs and a sandbar that grew to a fair island at low tide. We were greeted by Stuart who informed us that snorkeling is at 3 PM, followed by yoga on the sandbar at 4 PM, and then happy hour at said sandbar at 4:30. They have arranged quite a happy little community out here in this little paradise. Some of these people have been here for over a week.
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