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Published: November 30th 2017
View from Sunset Beach Cottages
You know that feeling when you are travelling and you realise that somehow time has slipped away like sand through your fingers? You have all these plans, but suddenly they seem unfeasible because what you thought was a lot of time, turned out to be outrageously inadequate? Well, that moment arrived for me when I returned to Kupang from my little visa-run to Timor Leste. Thirty days seemed like a lot on paper, but when I looked at what I still wanted to do, those same thirty days shriveled to nothing. Reality kicked in. Flores, Sumba and Sumbawa in thirty days? No way!! You would think, three islands, ten days each, what’s the problem? Well, ten days for each only works in theory, in reality, you end up with much less, especially when you have to wait for infrequent ferries to get from one island to the next.
My thirty days became twenty five days. And taking into account the need to get back to Jakarta by the end of it, most likely via Bali, which means transiting through Lombok (more ferries!!) and you can make that twenty three days. But wait, there is also the ferry to Sumba to
Snorkeling outside Waiterang
take into account, and the ferry to Sumbawa, and winding roads, suddenly you are talking about eighteen days for three islands. Where has all my time gone!!
I’ve been travelling through Flores for ten days now and I have been doing it double time. I hopped from one place to the other. I don’t like hopping from one place to the other, at least not double time!! I like taking my time, travelling leisurely. Fast and furious is not for me, it is for Vin Diesel and the like. But, hey, circumstances have forced me to Vin Diesel it through Flores. Luckily I have had good company.
For some strange reason Bilan, a Canadian lass, decided to race through Flores with me. And Bilan assures me she doesn’t enjoy fast travel! Perhaps it is my Dutch charm that has convinced her to accept my pace of travel and follow suite. And accept my touristic behavior, like visiting ‘authentic’ villages and snapping a photo or two which will look good on my blog. Actually I know it isn’t my charm. I know I impressed her with two names, Eisenstein, the Russian director (know thy film history!) and Cake, the
band. All my other defects were forgiven (phew), including all the other music on my mp3 player, which shows a decidedly less flattering picture of my musical tastes. It’s a good thing she hasn’t seen the films stored on my laptop, I’m not sure if my knowledge of Eisenstein would be enough to forgive me for my penchant for bad Schwarzenegger movies (think Commando). Some things are best left unsaid.
So Bilan and I have been making a whirlwind tour through Flores, the flower island. And Bilan has appropriated my mp3 player (with Cake on it) for the duration so it seems. I, meanwhile, am happy to share the costs, and have somebody to discuss Eisenstein with. Ok, we haven’t actually discussed him, but it seemed more intellectual to say we did. Mostly I am looking out of windows at the scenery, or through snorkeling masks at fish and corals, or at midnight roads only lit up by the headlights of the bus we are on.
There was the arrival in Larantuka at 4 am, the dark winding road to Maumere that same morning, the black sandy beach of Waiterang and the corals around the islands that fronted
it, the ride up to Moni, ridiculously over-priced Kelimutu with its turquoise lakes, the two day pit-stop in Ende (of all places) to recharge our batteries, the high-roofed houses of traditional Bena, the breakfast in Bajawa, the spiderweb rice-paddies around Ruteng, and the dragons of Komodo (in the rain)! Just summing it all up makes me dizzy! Especially since I know we skipped so much in the process and we only skimmed through the rest. It was like flitting through the pages of a good book without really reading it. Or like doing Europe in 6 days! It’s been unrelenting.
And it has been poor planning on my side to be honest. I should have researched it better. But I didn’t. Notwithstanding all this, I’ve made the best of a bad situation, and while I might have indeed not done Flores justice, I have done the best I can. As good ol’ Frank would say: ‘Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention…’
As for Sumba and Sumbawa? I have about ten days for both of them. Eat your heart out Vin Diesel!
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