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Thursday, August 2, 2012

July 31, 2012 – Kupang, W Timor Indonesia – Welcome Night

Indonesian Lesson #1: We are learning that nothing is as it seems here; time makes no real difference and "Yes" is the appropriate response to everything no matter the question or the reality. The locals do not like to disappoint and so rather than answer in the negative they sincerely attempt to please.

Last night we were instructed to meet on shore at Teddy's Bar at 5:00 PM for a special dinner. We followed the trail of tall people (we are at least a foot taller than the locals) to an open-air bar that looked to be the right place because plastic tables and chairs had been set up next door and covered in white and blue satin. We soon joined some familiar faces wearing huge smiles and looking as though they had been there for quite a while. Frank was in heaven because a bottle of beer cost 30,000 IDR, which is the equivalent of approximately $3 USD, and holds ¾ of a liter. Uh oh. Here comes trouble.

There seemed to be a lot of confusion about the dinner…no one really knew if there was one and if so where it actually was to be held. Apparently this place was not Teddy's and yet no one seemed to care because this is where we all had gathered. Indonesian Lesson #2 – Organization doesn't matter so much here as it does to the rest of us; it will somehow fall into place eventually.

By around 7:00 we noticed something being set up on a large stage next door at the pretty tables and so we moved over. A large number of dignitaries arrived taking the front and center seats. Here we are all dressed like cruisers; however, these locals were dressed in beautiful garments and yet again it didn't seem to matter. Very long speeches were made in Indonesian by the Governor and the Vice Governor, and then translated into one or two sentences for us. Some gift bags were presented to us all and then dancers, musicians and singers representing local and surrounding islands and villages performed for us. It was indeed impressive, yet as the night wore on and our empty stomachs began to protest loudly we all began wondering about dinner. Some people left. We stayed for a little while longer enjoying the festivities and then suddenly an announcement was made that the buffet is now open. We filled our plates with rice and our bowls with soup and then heaped on a variety of otherwise unidentifiable but very tasty foods. We think some of it was chicken and don't want to know more than that. What we do know is that we had a fantastic evening and met a lot of lovely folks. 

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