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Published: September 13th 2009
We just finally were able to get decent internet...so 2 entries today 😊
The Banda Islands (spice islands) were everything we hoped for and more! After an epic boat ride here we were latched onto by several different hotel/homestay hawkers “mister mister you stay here? You want hotel? Good price.” Overwhelmed we went with the one that looked the nicest. Best decision ever. Our room is on the second floor with a patio looking out across the channel to a perfect little volcano - Gunung Api. It is a wonderful place to eat our breakfast and dinner every day and the price can’t be beat: $12.50 for an upstairs room and SamF is in a room downstairs for $7 a night. Originally we were only going to stay here for 3 days and take the same boat back to Ambon (the capital of the Maluku region), but after waking up to the view of Api and snorkeling around the island the first day we decided we had to at least try to stay longer. First step was to make sure that there was somewhere to get beer on the islands before deciding to stay here through my birthday. People pointed
us to the Chinese market…was it any different than any of to other little hut stores? No. But it was run by one of the only Chinese people on the island, and therefore not Muslim. Yay Bintang! So after stocking up on some beers we decided to try out luck with the plane situation. The plane comes once a week unless there is bad weather. Last Saturday it didn’t come because it was raining in Ambon so we figured what are the odds that it wouldn’t come again this week…right?
The Bandas are a tiny string of 10 picture perfect islands. The water is crystal clear and surprisingly calm. We went scuba diving twice and snorkeling every day. We saw 2 turtles while scuba diving the other day and some of the hugest corals I have ever seen, they were shaped like giant vases that you could literally fit inside of. We took boats each day out to the surrounding islands to snorkel, scuba and hang out on tropical beaches. Wednesday we went to Run Island which is a little island that used to be controlled by the British. The Dutch (who controlled basically everything else around here at
the time) wanted Run so they destroyed all the nutmeg trees on the island making it more or less worthless which finally convinced the British in 1667 to swap it for an equally worthless island in the new world…Manhattan. The history here is very interesting to say the least.
On Thursday we celebrated my birthday. The Sams went out and tried to buy food to cook a bday dinner, as we were all a little sick of rice and fish. Finding the food to cook with was an adventure in itself. We thought we bought green mung beens but they turned out to be green peanuts. They were really good though and we made a Spanish tortilla too, yum! We made friends with these two Czechs, Jan and Sylvia, who are the only other guests staying in this little hotel so they joined us for beers after dinner AND somehow they found a birthday cake!!! I don’t think I can convey the immensity of this. We are on a tiny island…beer is hard to come by…there is no bank…no real store…I am sure you can find it but I haven’t seen flour anywhere. So they come out with this
double-decker pink cake with little pink roses on it and two candles in the shape of a 2 and a 5. We were all astounded. Apparently the hotel owner’s wife baked the cake for them. It was incredible. Also the Sams had bought fireworks, which are randomly everywhere so we shot them off of the deck late that night. It was a really great birthday.
Saturday morning we woke up after a very rainy night…apparently it only rains on Saturdays. Luckily it stopped and cleared up a bit and the plane did arrive. It was a little turbo propeller plane that felt more like a bus than a plane with no assigned seats. From my seat I could see everything the pilots did with the knobs and levers in the cockpit and I could even see out the front windows. I was mildly freaked out at first, but the flight was quick and smooth and now we are back in Ambon trying to organize our trip to Papua.
Still having a blast and love hearing all your comments and thanks for all the birthday wishes!
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