We had to agree that our friends had indeed found a wonderful little paradise not far from the hustle and bustle of Lewoleba, Lembata. Joining them we basked in the beauty of the little sand spit for two days, in crystal clear water teeming with untouched corals that made snorkeling a thrill. There were starfish that we had never before seen and a variety of colorful fish that were also new to us. Beachcombing netted us some lovely sand dollars, sea urchin skeletons and a variety of pretty shells. Locals came by in canoes to trade nautilus shells for fishhooks and the like. We didn't do any trading but saw the fruits of some of the others' efforts. Had we not had a rally schedule to keep we would have stayed much longer. Sunset happy hour on the sandbar was a great opportunity to get to know some of our new cruising companions.
Saturday, the 18th we were off in a congo-line of yachts in search of a similar place to spend a day or two before arriving at the next Rally waypoints, which really are a bit of a mystery to us anyway because some people have received messages indicating our next stop at Ende has been changed/cancelled. Communication is unclear, so we are all groping in the dark trying to figure out where exactly is the next stop. One thing is clear – we are to be somewhere by the 21st. Several of the yachts that left ahead of us had set their sights on various anchorages much further along than we wanted to travel in a day. There are many floating bamboo fishing rafts set in random fashion all across our intended path causing us to zig or zag just a bit off course. It certainly keeps us alert. Frank and I decided we would stop at Waimalung, an anchorage on Flores that is mentioned in the "101 Anchorages…" book. Stuart and Sheila on s/v Imagine made the same decision. We arrived barely in time to anchor before losing our daylight. S/v Esperanza was the only other yacht in the anchorage. Awaking Sunday morning we found it absolutely beautiful and very peaceful. The water was clear and colorful. Although there was a flurry of activity on shore, the bay was very quiet. Around mid morning, Esperanza took their leave and then two small canoes carrying a total of 5 boys came out for a look at us. They just wanted to say "Hallo Meestair". They didn't get too close and didn't seem to want anything. I ran down below and grabbed some sparkly blow horns that we had left over from NYE. I came up, motioning to the boys to come over. They just sat smiling, seeming wary. I blew one of the horns and held it out to them. One boy came close enough for me to hand him one. He blew it and them smiled the most beautiful smile up at me. Naturally the others thought it might be ok to take one after that, and timidly approached. After I gave them the horns Frank urged them to go over to visit Imagine. Naughty Frank. After that we had no more visitors, so we settled down for a day of work. Eventually Stuart and Sheila stopped by and then we all decided to go for a snorkel. Sadly, although we could see a lot of rock through the pretty blue water, there didn't seem to be any color. We commented that it looked as though there must have been some catastrophic event here that had changed the sea floor and the topography of the entire bay. Something just didn't look right to us. Sheila and I gave it up and returned to Destiny, while Frank and Stuart continued to look for coral and colorful fish.
Later on in the afternoon, a gentleman named Paul rowed out to see us. He introduced himself to us as the local schoolteacher. Speaking very good English, he explained that a terrible earthquake had hit in 1992, causing a devastating tsunami to strike the island killing many of their people including his own father. What we had seen under the water were fault lines running through the bay. It was so eerie. There were 100 villagers left in his village and he wanted us to come to shore for a tour and to have tea with him and his young wife, Christine. Paul and about a dozen children greeted us on shore and escorted us through the tidy little village. He proudly introduced us around, pointing out the government buildings, clinic, school, Catholic Church, gardens, cashew trees, and soccer field, ending at his own home where he served us tea and we talked about the history of his village and the island of Flores. This island is a very fertile agricultural area, yielding an amazing variety of food products. He showed us the plant from which the fibers are harvested to make the Ikat weavings. We felt the fiber and are relatively certain it is a type of cotton, but much softer and finer than any I've seen growing in Texas. Evening began to approach so we thanked Paul, Christine and the children who escorted us in an ever-growing band back to the beach.
We ended our day by with Sheila and Stuart over drinks and snacks and a strategic brainstorm before leaving for the next stop in the morning. We agreed to depart around 8 AM.