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Published: August 26th 2014
The cultural event at Lewoleba (Lembata) (anchored at S8 22.208 E123 24.536) was definitely the best reception so far, I think because it was obviously much more laid on for us… and ironically it was the first event not part of the rally. The yachties lined up on the jetty behind some ceremonial twine which was cut in front of the crowds to welcome us ashore - of course we had all been ashore already. Then most of us were given headpieces made of reed and a taste of the locally made palm wine as we left the jetty (not tasty stuff).
We took our seats and watched the dance of 100 school children which was lovely, to the backdrop of the huge volcano. Then the carnival procession lead off to town and we walked along with it until we managed to get a ride with the police wagon. We drove all around town, passing people standing at the front of their houses and waving to them, until we returned to the port and took our seats again. Like in Kalabahi we were each given a colourful cardboard box of treats - water and some small cakes to munch while
Dance of 100 children
Lewotola volcano in background
the MC started singing his first song.
He then went on to introduce the dancers from 9 regions of Lembata as the groups took their turns to perform. A buffet was laid on half way through but soon after Naomi was ready to go back to Luna Ray as she was feeling ill from her cold. I dropped her and Alex off and returned and catch the last 2 acts. Came back to the jetty to find our ‘guarded’ dinghy was trapped under the jetty and it took some forceful shoving against the oyster shell covered pier to free it.
The next day we took the tour to the “not to be missed” whale hunting village which was on the south side of the island. I wasn’t sure I wanted to take this tour as apparently its only by luck they might be hunting that day, and costs $100’s to actually watch. I went ashore at 6:30 to let them know Naomi was well enough to come but Ella, the girl organising it wasn’t there. We returned to start the tour at 7am and waited for our transport which came in the form of 2 cars
for 13 of us, a dog and 2 drivers. When we finally convinced them there wasn’t enough space they organised a roofed truck with bench seating but the 5 japanese yachties wouldn’t budge from their car. So the two vehicles set off at about 8:30, first to pick up our pack lunches which were kept under the seat, then back to set off across the steep track up and over the mountainous inland. It was a long, bumpy, dusty uncomfortable three hours but we had the fortune of making the tour on a saturday when there is a traditional market we were going to visit that barters rather than use money. When we arrived there wasn’t much market to see because apparently 2 villages had been fighting and so the market packed up early.
Ella took us to a hut on the beach to have lunch and we found the boxes that had been sat on the truck the for the last 5 hours had fried chicken, rice, boiled veg and the worlds smallest banana. I was a little concerned about what bugs could have cultivated on that chicken leg but ate it anyway.
the torture truck to visit the whaling village which was about as uninspiring as I expected with little to see apart from the unused boats on the beach, old whale bones dotted around the village and lines of whale skin drying in the sun. Apparently the whalers were hunting successfully today but charged a huge amount if you actually wanted to go with them… not that we would have time for it anyway. One interesting site was a boat returning, that got pushed up the beach and they had quite a haul of fish. The kids standing around would grab a fish and suck the eyeballs out!… a treat for them apparently.
The return 3 hours of discomfort came too quickly but this time we stopped at Ella’s parents house. Her mum was on the porch weaving while we enjoyed some coconut water. Ella also had us stop at a “hot spring” on the way back so we could wash off some of the dust. We followed a trail up a small stream, myself imagining a picturesque set of warm pools to relax in but instead came across a metal pipe of warm water feeding into the stream, at
a spot that was popular with mosquitos. We finally returned to the smooth bitumen roads of Lewoleba at about 5pm. This could be the worst tour I’ve ever had to endure but Naomi was quite happy with the change of scenery, and others described it as being good so perhaps I’m just being grumpy about it.
We left the next morning but waited until midday as we had heard boats leaving the previous morning had been met by a 7 knot current in the main channel. It also meant the sea breeze had built up so we had a good sail close to the 18 knot wind across the bay. Then with it behind us we were pushed north up the channel and lessened conveniently when we wanted to motor the narrow channel into the next anchorage. I stood on the boom to direct Naomi between the azure blue water of the reefs on either side. We joined the other 5 boats at the beautiful anchorage between a few islands, sand spits and surrounding reef. We spent three nights at this lovely spot (Kroko Islet S8 14.6 E123 19.5) which had clean shallow sandy beaches perfect for
Alex to play in, little islands to visit (one with a hut surrounded by goats & dogs) and some passable reef to snorkel. It was a popular place to fish and several canoes came over to sell fish and ask for snorkel masks or school books - there was a village a mile over on the main island of Adonara.
From here we followed the boat SV Apa Lagi to nice spot about 30 miles west called Tenjung Gedong (S8 04.61 E 122 50.69). We motored all the way except for about an hour but there wasn’t the frustrating current against us and the swell was minimal so it was quite a pleasant trip. We procrastinated about where to anchor for a while and then went ashore to the large pebbly beach between the moored fishing boats. Climbed the steep hill to the village having read you could buy fruit&veg here but never found any. We did meet many friendly villagers, roaming pigs and dogs, guys building canoes and by the time we left had a trail of 30 kids following us. In one unfortunate incident Alex ran ahead and the kids chased him, one was not
looking where he was going and ran straight into Alex, knocking him to the ground. He wasn’t hurt but the shock brought lots of screaming & crying which we struggled to play down in an effort not to cause a scene or perhaps a village uproar.
The next morning we left after the 7:30 rally radio sched, and followed the coast around “the scorpion’s tail” of Flores (if you look at Flores on a map you’ll see what I mean). After a few hours we dropped anchor in a beautiful bay called TG Hading (S 8 13.715 E122 46.022), lined with sandy beaches and blue azure water. One cruiser had said the snorkelling was excellent but I found it just average however we did speed the dinghy over to the next bay to the west and just passed the headland here I came across an amazing shelf of precipitous reef. You would float just a few feet above the reef and then reach the overhanging edge and look down into 20-40 metres of water which quickly dropped further to an unmeasurable dark blue - I was like a huge eagle flying around a cliff top.
This morning we left early again and traversed the large bay on a 25 mile trip to Pulau Besar (S8 26.75 E 122 24.53), all by motor. Using cruisers waypoints and me spotting from the boom, we drove in-between the reefs into the small bay on the NE of the island, and anchored next to a compact little village with many houses on stilts although not in the water. I was keen to go snorkelling again as its supposed to be very good here too but it was disappointing as were the beaches as they all seemed to rock lined, so no good for Alex to swim, except for the one right next to the village. We stopped next to a few kids using lines wrapped around tin cans to fish and eventually half the village came out to look. Sadly any conversation was brief as our indonesian is still very poor.
Tomorrow we will hop west again about 27 miles to an anchorage that has been described as “perfection” so might stop for a little while
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