The “Bule” are back in Kenawa until Tomorrow (4/30)…after exploring Sumbawa’s surfing scene 🏄🏿‍♀️ 🌴🌸

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Celebrating my 35th birthday

This post is a little longer than normal as it covers our entire last week on Kenawa, but I promise it’s a goodie 🙂

Lacy: First, a brief explanation of the Indonesian word “Bule.”  As a white skinned person in Indonesia you will inevitably hear the word bule either in reference to yourself or as a local acknowledging to others there is, indeed, a white person around. We haven’t experienced it as a racist or negative word at all, but rather a way to identify a foreigner. For example, when we visited a waterfall earlier this week and returned to the hotel we were staying at, the woman who works at the restaurant asked if the other people at the falls were local or bule?  Local or foreign. We hear kids announce our presence in the village saying, “Bule” or “Hello Mister.”  While I have read that some people find this term offensive, it has not been our experience to date. My English/Indonesian dictionary even defines it as a derogatory term meaning  “white face” or “whitey.”  So, on that note, these 2 bule are back on Kenawa for another few days before beginning Part Dua (2) of our Indonesian adventure before our 60 day visas expire.

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On Monday, Rob & I took our normal boat to Poto Tano and picked up a tiny 125 CC motorcycle for the next 3 days. Rob looks like a giant on this tiny thing, but we were still in heaven as we knew we were embarking on a little adventure within an adventure. We traveled west along the coast of Sumbawa for a little over an hour towards our destination, navigating around cows, goats and water buffalo in the road. The scenery was lush and green with mountains rising up on one side and the stunning clear blue-green sea on the other. The day was clear and we had a spectacular view of Mt. Rinjani across the water. I quickly set into my role of navigator and photographer (I was also taking videos to send my dad back home…he and I do that when we ride together to Canada for the past ten years) on the back of the bike. I communicated to Rob like a rally race navigator, saying, “90 degree left 3 klicks” (short for km) or “tight turn right 500m.”  This helped him prepare ahead of time while navigating through smaller roads and wildlife. I got some decent photos along the way, enjoying feeling the wind and sun on my skin as we took in the new sights. By noon, we had seen a few people surfing along the beach and pulled into the gates of Whales & Waves.  We both gasped in awe at this oasis within what seemed like a fairly impoverished village area. We walked towards the far end of the property to the large open restaurant by the sea, weaving through the beautifully manicured lawn, adorned with tall palms and flowering trees,  mesmerized by the crashing waves and tiny islands dotting the sea in front of us.

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The villas tucked in between palm trees

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Really nice setup here to watch the waves and sunset

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I sent this photo to a friend and she responded, “…Rob looks so at home just chillin with a drink in his hand, watching you lol”  That sums up suamiku (my husband) 💘

We removed our sneakers and backpacks from traveling and settled into the shade of the outdoor restaurant with a cold beer. It was beautiful.  Beautiful in a different way than Kenawa. Kenawa doesn’t have any waves and here they were coming directly at us, lulling us. I enjoyed the view and the breeze while on the swing (swings are one of my favorite things in the world. I look forward to having that and an outdoor shower when we build our home) while waiting for our cheeseburger to be prepared.  I mentioned in our last post that Rob and I have been craving cheese.  Giddy, with huge smiles on our faces, we devoured the burger and fries, agreeing over another round of beers that it was a good start to the trip.  We soaked in the shade and view for a while longer before dropping our bags in the room and beginning a walk along the shore and through the neighboring village.

60F1912A-D231-497C-BA28-1AECEDD0DBE32E7A3B97-179D-43A7-B7A9-B0F3C0D933AC We chose the hottest time of the day to take a stroll and were dripping sweat fairly quickly.  It was evident as we walked along the beach that someone was making an effort to remove the trash here. Plenty of it washes ashore all over Indonesia, but here it was remarkably rubbish-free. As we turned the corner of the shore we approached the village and couldn’t help but notice the locals harvesting seaweed. This was a new sight for us. They laid huge squares of seaweed out on pallets to dry in the sun.  Farmed squares were evident in the low tide near the shore as the villagers waded in the water to collect the seaweed.   I later looked up that due to overfishing and the resulting scarcity of fish, seaweed harvesting has become more common in Indonesia and elsewhere as a means of survival. Seaweed is sold for consumption and as a seaweed derived thickening agent – carrageenan— for products ranging from toothpaste to burgers. The villagers here seem to be deeply invested in this as an economic resource. Eventually, we left the shore and turned back towards the hotel choosing to walk through the village. We were met by smiling faces, the obligatory cows and goats and children running next to us  saying, “hello” and “hello mister.” The homes were either built very low to the ground with no windows to maximize deep shade or were on stilts. There was a huge banner in the center that advertised beach clean up and recycling, thus answering our question as to why the beach and village contained so little trash. Furthermore, as we left the main village area and continued along the road towards the hotel, there were uniform trash bags hanging on the gates to each home. This is the first formal trash removal infrastructure we have seen in Indonesia and are really impressed. Though the village is clearly poor it was clean of trash and it pleased us to see this difference in the community!  The remainder of the evening consisted of many more beers on the beautiful veranda of the hotel while we watched the sunset and I got my butt handed to me in cards, repeatedly. Whales and Waves has 2 really great house dogs that laid by our feet as we both ate a delicious dinner: seafood Mie Goreng.

Gorgeous sunset on the beach at Whales and Waves

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Gracie, one of the house dogs, enjoyed the sunset with me.  She was so cute collecting coral from the water and making a pile on the beach.

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Mie Goreng is a traditional fried noodle dish that everyone spices a little differently. The special of the night included squid! Prawns! And tuna! The serving was abundant and we thoroughly enjoyed it with the homemade sambal, a spicy condiment that is found everywhere. A couple more beers to wash it all down and we fell asleep to the hum of the first AC in 3 weeks.

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Rinjani in a very clear view 

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Beach in front of the hotel

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The next morning did not disappoint as we stepped from our room and straight into a postcard again.  Seated before the sight and sound of the waves and tiny islands before us, we enjoyed a breakfast of pancakes, cheese omelet, coffee, and papaya juice to fuel us for the day’s adventure.  On the agenda Tuesday was to ride an hour further east to swim in a local waterfall and then head south to another surfing area on the coast. Bradley,  the surfer in charge of Whales & Waves for the last 3 years, provided us a hand drawn map to lead us from a roundabout, through a village, past the rice paddies, over a bridge and finally to the secluded waterfall.

A collection of photos from the various rides

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Ice cream stop along the way on a hot day

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Another little stop for a cold drink 

With my expert navigation skills I felt confident we could find it and off we went on a beautiful morning ride. We must have been in a valley because everything was so incredibly lush – the mountains, the trees. Still seeing Rinjani across the sea we got to the turnaround and made our first turn to begin following the directions of the hand written map. We missed the second turn somehow, but when we started back at the turnaround again we saw the turn at the yellow house that we missed and were all of a sudden whisked away to another world as we rode through the quiet and beautiful rice paddies.

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Bright green rice paddies

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Hand drawn directions to waterfall

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Horses off in the distance, bright green rice growing from the water and the villagers resting in the shade. Over the bridge and a couple turns later we found the unmarked pull off for the waterfall. A high five to one another and we began the quick hike through the jungle trees to the topaz blue falls.  There weren’t many people at the falls at all: 4 guys having a great time jumping from a rope swing, a group of local kids and another couple.  Immediately jumping in the water, we were refreshed by the clean, cool, deep blue water. I laid my head black under the fall and stared at the vines twisting up the side of the hill, gently holding little plants that grew out of their crevices. As Rob relaxed on the edge of the pool, feet dangling in the water and propping me up as I enjoyed being a little fish, we began to chat with the other couple. Coincidentally enough, they met Teri last week when they were on the island. It stormed the evening their tour boat arrived so they didn’t make it to the houses, but Teri explained the homes to them as she ate dinner at Mama’s place. Nicola, Italian and Patricia, Spanish, have been traveling through Indonesia together and asked if they could come back to the island with us the next day. Absolutely, we said!  We knew there was a blow up mattress that wasn’t being used and a tent to borrow from Mama so we arranged to meet them at the harbor the following day, and the boat “home” together.

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Hike to the falls

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The first day we let a Giz ride in the bike on the outside of Rob’s backpack only to realize he became filthy.  We should have known better!  Poor guy was relegated to the interior of the pack for the rest of the trip.

Truth be told, even though Rob and I were enjoying our “vacation within a vacation,” our Kenawa Earthship had become home and we missed the little routine we had developed and comfort we had established being there this month. From the falls we went back to the coast to have lunch in the surfing area, but the place we wanted to eat at wasn’t open and we were afraid we were about to run out of gas in the middle of nowhere so we headed back to the hotel. The beauty of the ride did not disappoint as the lighting of the day softened and made everything glow as we rode past it.  Arriving back to the hotel, we resumed our evening activity of beer and cards while hanging out with the dogs and watching the sunset.  We opted to start to celebrate my birthday (the next day) a little early and partake in the first liquor we have had in 3 weeks (simply because it’s not available anywhere we have been!) – Lycee martinis!! Bradley made a very very good martini and we may have stumbled into 3 each. I continued to lose in cards while devouring a chicken Mie Goreng for dinner. Fully satiated,  we marveled at the beautiful bright stars visible through palm tree fronds as we walked back to the room and the final night of AC.

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I woke up the next morning as a very happy 35 year old! After a shower, coffee and walk on the beach we began our ride back across Sumbawa. We needed to make it to Alas before the market closed at noon so we could get a little more food for our five remaining days on the island. Yes, five days! Already!  We took a different road than we normally do from the harbor and were treated to magnificent high views in the the hills that looked down over the harbor.  Parking the bike across from the market a little after 11am, we had a quick debrief about what we wanted to get, agreed to let me lead the conversation since my Indonesian has improved pretty well and crossed the street to the market with confidence. Having been there with Suji twice before and knowing how to navigate the outdoor alleys to find meat (we bought a whole chicken to fry to welcome our new friends back to the island), eggs, cauliflower, potatoes and more we easily got everything we needed in 30 minutes. I spoke Indonesian the entire time, we definitely didn’t feel like we got overcharged (which I half expected being bule – which is why I practice my Indonesian so much!) and we both felt like a million bucks for doing such a great job at the market. Like pros! We rewarded ourselves, and celebrated my birthday, with our favorite goat satay cart. We have truly fallen in love with goat here. I noticed a coffee shop when we drove to the market that had a tiki- look to it and suggested we try it after lunch. Oh my yum! I ordered a dragonfruit juice that was so delicious and cold I sucked it down in a minute and immediately ordered another (and did it in Indonesian!). At 85 cents I didn’t really hesitate.  Enjoying my birthday together and really full from lunch and dragonfruit we met Nicola and Patricia at the harbor for the ride home.

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Goat 🐐

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Dragonfruit juice with a little cream on the bottom…lasted about 60 seconds

Rob: We arrived back in Poto Tano (port city of Tano) and tried to time our arrival to match Nic and Patricia’s bus. We skidded to a stop as we rounded a corner near a market to the harbor. Me yelling “Blonde” and her yelling “Patricia” in unison. True, we had both seen long blond hair at the same time and knew exactly who it would be. Because… You see… We weren’t the only Bule in town.

We all came to the Earthships and unloaded our market treasures. Nic and I strolled down to Mama’s to secure Umpat (4) Bintangs to toast such a pretty view and Lacy’s 35th. I made a tomato, cucumber and onion salad as a starter for our Fried Rice and Fried Fresh Chicken dinner. It was really good. Teri joined us and we all talked into the night on the front porch of Earthship 1. It turns out that Nicola is from a little town in Italy very near a city called Ravenna which is also the name of the restaurant where Lacy and I first met in Dallas. She is Spanish but works summers in Southern Portugal in the Algarve which Lacy, myself, our good friends Chef Tommy and April all love visiting. Later I figured out I had been to her bar some 10-11 years ago. I hope we will all be back there sometime soon. New friends and old together. We toasted Lacy’s birthday, the stars and fellow travelers one last time before we all retired for the night. Dreams of bright colored fishes and the snorkeling to come the following day.

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Rob, myself, Patricia and Nicola

Lacy: We enjoyed Thursday  evening on the front porch again with Nicola and Patricia before they left with Teri on Friday. It was such a nice treat for Rob and I to relax while they cooked pasta with marinara for us. Comfort food me for me. Friday, Teri left the island to head home to China and Nicola and Patricia to continue their travels for one more month. We may meet them again in May to hike Rinjani together. It was nice to share some of our last few days in Kenawa with them.  This last morning on the island I layed in bed listening to the tide come in, the sun glistening on the water, and as always, hopeful a cumi (squid) boat will pull up! Geesh, this month went by fast. Rob and I will absolutely never forget this rare opportunity we were blessed with to live out our Earthship dream on a beautiful, deserted, tropical Indonesian island. We made many improvements on the home and a received a great introduction to this country. Tomorrow we welcome the next group staying here for May and then take the ferry to Lombok to rent a motorcycle for the remainder of our time in the country. Island hopping, jungle exploring and going with the flow are what we have in mind. Kenawa will always be dear to my heart.

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I was beyond thrilled to see Lenda return to the island yesterday morning with her brother. We drew together for a little bit and I practiced my Indonesian with her.

A full moon accompanied the sunset for our final evening…

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Greetings from Kenawa 🏝🦀🌞🌈💕

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Lacy: Today we experienced the HOTTEST temperatures on the island so far  at 95.1 degrees and 60% humidity around noon. Rob and I were sitting in the shade of the porch trying not to melt from this intense heat; me reading my book on Indonesia and him doing a crossword puzzle I found yesterday in a newspaper I picked up during our layover in Hong Kong (naturally, I was hanging on to this month-old newspaper because who knows what I may need it for! Indeed, it has been useful for soaking up oil when frying fish…and now a crossword puzzle 😋). I am on my fourth novel of the month and need to find another English book soon!  Fortunately, the temperature dropped to the upper 80’s a couple hours later for an afternoon respite before big black clouds, rain and cool breezes rolled in around 6. Yay! Despite the heat, we are still absolutely loving being here on Kenawa. Yesterday was absolutely spectacular because we had cloud cover all day long which was accompanied by a another cool breeze then and the preceding evening. Such a treat to have 3 nights in a row of really pleasant weather for sleeping.  Tomorrow we are leaving the island for 3 days and 2 nights. Teri was intent on having her parents fly from China to see the Earthships here and they arrived this morning on Lombok island where she traveled to pick them up and bring them here tomorrow. She asked us if we would be willing to stay in a hotel for 2 nights so that her parents could stay in our place and get the complete Earthship experience. We already had plans to rent a motorbike for most of Wednesday, my 35th birthday, and go visit a waterfall an hour + away to celebrate.  Since there is a hotel, Whales &  Waves, in the same general area as we planned to go, we agreed.  We haven’t had any cheese since Mojo island 3 weeks ago and I am craving that and bread.  While I do really enjoy the local food, a little bit of home would taste really good right now so I am hopeful that the restaurant at the hotel has some Western options.

Rob: Rice or Noodles

Making brunch or cooking dinner is our daily wind down and relaxation time. Often it involves a cool but not quite cold Bintang Beer picked up from Mama’s little stand. Out of all the things we have been cooking, we have found a few favorites that I’m certain we will carry forward in our life and travels as some of our new comfort food meals.

One is similar to something we already make at home it with a spicy 🌶 twist. The cucumbers here are hard fleshed. Fragrant but way more firm than we are accustomed to eating. They need to be marinated for a bit to soften them up. 50 / 50, sugar / vinegar with salt and pepper works great. Add fresh tomatoes, shallots and a few seeded chilis and our sweet, salty and vinegar salads are very refreshing.

We crave getting fresh Cumi, Squid, from a local fisherman. A quick battered, fried and salted treat that we could eat any time of day.

When we can get fresh beef or goat from the market, my new Indonesian mortar & pestle comes in handy. It helps make an awesome fresh ground peanut & sweet soy sauce to go with thinly sliced and literally hammered meat in the wok. Served with lots of fluffy white rice!

Our other rice favorite is shredded cabbage with onions, garlic and chilis cooked in a little oil on a blisteringly hot wok. A big bowl of half cabbage and half rice will fill you up and keep you regular. 😀

Noodles with chicken broth, onions and over easy fried eggs may be our most common lunch / brunch food. It is simple and fast to make. There are many types of noddles here but the thicker, hand cut and rolled egg noodles that soak up the onion and chicken flavor are the best. Woks make great fried fresh eggs too.

You know, I once paid $75 to have a 7 Euro loaf of Pauline bread Fedex’ed from Paris to Dallas. Could someone please send me a couple of Double Double Animal style In-n-Out burgers?

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Not sure what this fruit is, but it is tasty

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I (Lacy) made shakshoukah (an Israeli egg and tomato dish)  but ruined it with far too many 🌶:(

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Giz is a man of many talents…cucumber salad happens to be one of them 

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Marinating…

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The final delicious and refreshing product

With the welcome cloud cover, I enjoyed being a dork with Gizmo yesterday morning…

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Last night a group of 50ish scouts camped on the island near our place. This morning I saw them gathered and a banner at their camp indicating that today was “Clean up Kenawa Day” for Earth day. How wonderful. Cleaning up trash from the island in the brutal heat this morning, they too cooled off after in the sea.

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Scout group gathering

Rob & I enjoy talking with Mama Kenawa, 1 of the handful of year round inhabitants on the island, who moved here with her husband and 14 year old daughter 4 years ago

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Turkish style coffee begins every morning here

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This morning I got a rare view of the top of Rinjani mountain/volcano on Lombok which is typically enveloped in clouds at the top.  Towering at over 12,000 ft tall it creates its own weather patterns at the peak.

To be followed by delicious meals…fried a fresh mackerel yesterday 

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Ants have to eat too! We see groups of ants carrying huge bugs every single day- millipedes, beatles, drangonflies. They crack me up with their tenacity.

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Completed taking down the wall in our home. Ready for a new facade

Motorbikes, tire walls & pole spears…OH MY! 🏍⚓️🏝🐟🌶

 

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Lacy: The temperature feels like it has risen in the past few days, or rather the combination of the intense humidity and constant mid to upper 80’s. That being said, the trip to Alas was a steamy one on Sunday. This time we rented a motorbike from Suji for the low low price of 100,000 Rp, or $7.50 USD. We took our normal boat ride to the harbor at 9am and then hopped on for 125CC’s of fun! Rob and I both love bikes (he use to semi-professionally race them in 1985. I was 2!😆) so we were both very excited for the ride into Alas. I was so relieved to see we had helmets, but sorry dad, no gear.

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This was the first time EVER that I rode in sandals, a skirt and t-shirt. I am usually the one that insists Rob puts on gear. I felt comfortable though knowing Rob was in charge. The wind felt great as we cruised along the coast of Sumbawa towards the market. I had an unobstructed view of the rice fields, huge mountains and the jungle that surrounds us. Following Suji, who had Teri on the back, we took his lead on giving the goats and cows in the road a wide berth. There were many as we traveled. We were in heaven as this was reinforcing our already brewing idea of getting a motorbike when we leave Kenawa as a means to explore. Alas was hot! Our first stop was a small Bakso stand on the side of the road where Rob and I quickly devoured our first tastes of the local chicken meatball soup. We got the “complete special” that included all the varieties and it cost $1.05. Seriously! I treated myself to an iced green tea – this is the first ice I have had since we landed in Indonesia and it was glorious on this hot morning. The Bakso was just as delicious as we hoped it would be and we will definitely be indulging in more on our upcoming travels.

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Look, ice!! And I’m halfway through my Bakso Ayam Goreng (chicken meatball soup with noodle).

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It has a little bit of everything in here using much of the chicken in a variety of meatballs –  yum!

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A few tables lined the food cart

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Bakso cart

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Following Suji & Teri

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We bought a 1/2 kilo of these bad boys 🌶 🌶🌶

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My tummy is full and happy 💚❤️

From there we navigated the market buying chilies, assorted vegetables, a mortar, fruit, spices, beef (sadly they had no goat today), coffee and eggs. I had an unusual experience in the market that left me with the distinct realization that we, the white people, are the attraction. I heard someone say “hey princess” somewhere near me as I was looking for cauliflower, but ignored it. Then there was a strong patting on my upper arm as someone was trying to get my attention. Again, I ignored. That was followed by someone aggressively grabbing my elbow, digging their fingers into me hard so that they could take a photo with me. I was stunned. She had her camera directed at us so I smiled hoping she would go away. One photo was not enough. Her grip tightened as she took a second and then I moved away quickly. Indonesian culture is all about “saving face.” Public outbursts of anger are strongly frowned upon. Keeping ones composure and dignity are key. I was startled, not scared. I asked Suji if this was normal – to be grabbed like that. He said it wasn’t but that they see tourists happy going around and want a photo. This was more aggressive than normal. That experience coupled with the many many local people that come by our house every day simply to take photos with us, not the house, certainly leaves me feeling that we are just as much an attraction as anything else. It’s kind of weird to be honest, but we are foreigners. We look strange & talk strange so this in one thing we need to conscious of. It’s impossible to blend in. That experience aside, the morning was really hot, but great. We got everything we needed, rode back to the harbor and and at 1pm hopped back on the boat to Kenawa. I joked with Rob that we would get home and turn the AC on to cool off, but that was more a pipe dream than anything else.

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My personal chef seasoned the new mortar and prepared a delicious peanut sauce for the beef

Rob: One other item I was able to locate at the market was a good sharpening stone. I really needed it, not for my little pocket knife, but for the interchangeable tips of my pole spear. One which has been hammered flat nosed and the other having 2 of the 5 barb tips completely broken off slamming into volcanic rock versus our dinner. I’ve had visions of providing fish for myself and Lacy as a part of our diet since before we even left the US. The male species “hunter” gene activated by just stepping onto a deserted island or maybe it was some Tom Hanks-esque Cast Away movie-like effect that engaged it. Either way, you haven’t seen a triumphant photo of me and a Tuna quite yet. I had to wait a week for the spear to arrive on Kenawa because I was dumb and left it at our hotel on Moyo Island after its successful navigation all along our trek to Indonesia. Luck and the kindness of island transportation got it to me. I’ve spent the better part of a week learning to get some power into my shot, but my aim has more improvement to come. Even a bad hour of spear fishing is a great hour of snorkeling. 99% of the fish here are beautiful tropical fish of every shape and hue. 1% are a striped snapper or baby tuna that come into the shallows for their own lunch. I’ve found a rocky drop off on the point of the island where each of these fish visit at high tide but this has lead to the near misses and blunted tips. Today Lacy and I swam further out than before. At high tide, we went over the sand / coral bar that creates the bathtub reef effect of the island just in front of our home. The water gets cooler and the sunlight can only reach down so far along the wall that drops straight off about 100 yards offshore. The live coral formations are now extremely colorful and range from fans, to mushrooms, flattops and brains. The variety and size of fish increases along the top edge of the underwater ridge as well. I’m convinced that a large curious green, blue, pink and orange Parrot Fish who followed us along for 1/2 of our swim today warned away all of the sport / dinner fish. I’ll sharpen my spear tip again tomorrow and Y’all check back in again to find out if the Tuna or Daddie Gizmo is victorious.

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Prep

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Before

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Just about 1/2 the wall uncovered exposing the pounded tires behind

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Yesterday, Monday, we began another project. The original material that was used on the lower half of the east and west walls inside both homes has not withstood the humidity here. Some things were an experiment here in this environment, and it’s apparent that we need to devise another way to cover the rammed earth tires that lay beneath the crumbling walls. We won’t be able to remove the current material, let the walls breathe below and redo the plaster all in the remaining time we have left (less than 2 weeks 😔). Our main goal is to remove the paint and organic material on both walls so that the next group can apply the finishing touch. I set up tarps to block our bed from all the dirt that would be flying around and we got to work. Half the wall came down in a few hours time exposing the beautiful tire work behind it which, personally, I like to see.

After enjoying another beautiful sunset we settled in for the evening and felt fortunate that a close storm was blowing cooler air into the house this evening. Time seems to be going to fast here and we are enjoying every moment of this experience.

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Me & Lenda (7 years old), Mama’s granddaughter, in front of Mama Kenawa’s shop.  Her mother left for Malaysia to be a domestic worker so she comes to the island often to be with her grandmother. She is a real cutie and I admittedly have a soft spot for though we can hardly communicate.  I was sad when she went back to school this week.

 

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This morning, after some Turkish coffee and dragonfruit, we set off on our snorkel date. We swam out to the shelf near the house, where it becomes deep, and explored the mauve & blue coral and bigger fish for 90 minutes as the current slowly pulled us down the shore. I had been to the shelf by myself before, but wouldn’t allow myself to go any farther towards the deep end alone so I was happy that we went together today as I felt much safer. Not being able to see the bottom of the floor made me a little fearful, but I have been doing stuff that scares me my whole life. And then I conquer it and move on. I really want to learn to dive this summer and go even deeper and see more!!

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We were blessed with another cool evening with rain tonight. Yesterday and today, the tide has been unusually high and very very low. We have never seen as much coral exposed as is in this photo. 

The joys of having a fisherman at your doorstep 🦑

In the world of two foodies and a bonafide chef (Rob is a classically trained French chef from L’Ecole Escoffier in Paris), our morning started off beautifully. I was up earlier and approached a fisherman who was in front of the house asking, “Beli ikan?” Buy a fish? He presented me with his catch – four fresh squid. I asked him to hold on a minute while I grabbed my Suami/husband from inside. Rob rolled out of bed, put some shorts on and quickly came back home with four live squid that he purchased for $50,000rp or $3.75 USD.

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Step 1: clean them

 

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Step 1: break them down

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Clearly, a bargain. We were both so excited. We hadn’t had squid yet since we arrived in Indonesia. Rob began breaking them down, setting aside the tentacles and 2 of the steaks cut into strips to batter & fry with salt and pepper.  We immediately fried that fresh meat and it was SO GOOD! I can’t rave enough about how fresh and delicious it tasted for breakfast!!!

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Step 4: fry

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Step 5: ENJOY!

The other 2 steaks were braised for several hours with ginger, chili, shallot, soy and garlic and made a delicious dinner over rice.  Operation squid was a success and we hope to repeat it.

We have already dubbed tomorrow, “day of the goat” since we plan on getting 1 kilo when  we head to Alas market in the morning to prepare 2 separate ways for lunch & dinner.

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The 🦑 braise begins

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🦑+🍺=😊

I forgot to add a few photos last night from our sunset view on the pier. It was quite beautiful 💓🌅

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There are trees on the southeast side of the island. None line our northern shore

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Then & Now… April 13, 2017 & 2018

Happy Friday the 13th everyone!

Lacy: This same date last year, as we had hiked nearly 400 miles through the Southern California desert’s Pacific Crest Trail, we  certainly could not have anticipated that one year later we would be almost half way around the world and enjoying a 26 day stay on one of Indonesia’s most beautiful and cherished islands.  Trading in the crunch of dirt and sand under our hiking shoes for the feel of sand between our toes and salt water on our lips as we snorkel. Moving out of our 50×80 tent and into an island Earthship. Leaving behind our gloves and jackets for bathing suits and sunscreen. Yes, we brought our hiking poles as we intend to conquer some Indonesian elevation this summer!

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We had already come a long way from the way the Mexican border in 30 days

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About to enjoy the thoughtful gift of coffee that our dear friends sent us in a hiking care package.

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We hiked out of Wrightwood that morning and enjoyed a rare campfire that evening since we came upon a secluded and empty campground.

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Rob’s hair was starting to get long then. In a year’s time it is to his grown to his shoulders. He sure was having fun with the fire that night.

Ever since we embarked on our journey from Dallas to California to begin the Pacific Crest Trail on March 13, 2017 we mark the 13th of every single month and note how long it’s been since we started this adventure together. Today is THIRTEEN months! WOW! During those months we hiked 800+ miles of the PCT (I have hiked well over 1,000 between all our travels), climbed Mt. Whitney, road tripped across the country covering California, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, up to the NE and enjoyed every single season along the way to its fullest by being in the right location at the right time. Spring blooms in the Anzo Borego Desert, summer time from Lake Tahoe to New Mexico, experiencing the leaves turn colors and drop in Hunter, NY and finally the magnificent winter wonderland that followed in those same mountains.  Opening ourselves up to different places and experiences & following what we felt drawn to along the way directed us to Taos, New Mexico where we fell in love with the Earthship design, it’s promise of sustainability, respect of the environment,  and just downright sensibility. Pursuing that knowledge and attending the month long academy program in November gave us the opportunity to maintain and improve the very Earthship we woke up in this morning on the tiny island of Kenawa.

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Rob and I snorkeling off Mandiki

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Three very happy people

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And so here we are, feeling unbelievably fortunate and blessed for where we have been and WHERE WE ARE. Our day today was so special that all 3 of us, Rob, Teri and myself, all commented that we feel like we are kings and living in paradise. The morning started with a 9am boat ride towards Mandiki, also known as Stone Island. It’s not far, but it took us across the west side of Kenawa which we had not previously traveled. We were able to get a closer look at the surrounding islands we have viewed for the last week and a half as Suji helped us learn their names: Pasarang, Belang and yes, we are staring right at Lombok and Rinjani.

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Suji & Rob

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Heading out for the day

That huge mountain is indeed the second highest volcano in the country at 12,000+ ft that we will climb this summer. It’s so big and magnificent rising out of the sea even this far away. It would take an hour and a half to get there in the boat we were in, 2 hours by public ferry. We were all on cloud nine surveying the islands around us from a different view and we hadn’t even completed the 20 minute road to Mandiki yet. Mandiki is basically just the top of a mountain sticking out of the ocean. You wouldn’t get on the tiny thing with one wind blown tree crowning the top, but the snorkeling surrounding it was spectacular.

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Mandiki through the boat

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Chia pet

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This water!

Rob thinks this tree on top makes it look like a chia pet! Suji dropped us off close by the island so we could take in the coral and bigger fish and just hung out as we enjoyed. I have been a little fish myself here in Indonesia and love being in the water. I’m infatuated with the snorkeling here. Every day is better than the last. I see bigger and different fish each time I go out. Today, the ocean floor was littered with clusters of my blue starfish friends. Very different. I must have seen several dozen. The biggest change here was the force of the current. It was very strong compared to “our island.” I had difficultly swimming against it or staying in one place (which miraculously is never an issue on Kenawa and I can soak in any one image as long as I desire). But the current wasn’t any bother because Suji and his brother just slowly followed us along as we moved with it so we would never be far from the boat if we needed a break. I looked up once and I was the only one in the water still. Rob and Teri were relaxing in the boat but I was far from done. I hung on to the outrigger with my face under the water in the deeper parts feeling the water course over my body as the boat moved to a better part to take in the underwater world. I must have snorkeled there for over an hour before climbing in the boat and giving the OK to start our trip back home. I rode on the front of the boat on the way home taking photos, soaking in the morning sun, the view and loving life. It kind of reminded me of being on the boat we chartered for several days when we were in Hawaii for our honeymoon. Great memories. No question I’m going to look back on this month with a smile in my heart. Right after we pulled onto shore by the house the 3 of us prepared to snorkel even more. It was only 11 and the sun was still raking in through the sea beautifully. Teri went in front of the house and Rob and I walked down the island to hop in at the tip where it’s deeper, the fish bigger and the coral a little different than out in front of our Earthship. Pole spear in hand, Rob tried to get our dinner. I let him know I was going to let the current carry me the 1/2 mile back home. What a difference the current is here. I actually had to help swim part of the way back because it wasn’t strong enough to take me back in less than an hour. Ha! We are so spoiled here. I love it!!! I saw a couple of fish on my float back home that I made a note to tell Rob about.

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Looking so white again with this sunscreen…but protected!  I wore this SPF shirt today also to protect my back just to take a break from sunscreen with so much time in the water

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Rob taking a photo of me taking a selfie on way home

Today was a great all over work out with the amount of swimming I did. A little work on the cisterns rounded out our day. We watched the sunset off the pier while enjoying a Bintang, looked at the dark sky and the bright stars that filled at while hugging and saying happy Friday the 13th, 13 months of excitement.

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Coming home and about to jump in this water and snorkel some more

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Home sweet home

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Backside of our island looking lush

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I have so much more I could say like how special the sky is at night here with the millions of stars I can see without light pollution, how I enjoyed watching the sunset again this evening while cleaning up the worlds trash off this beach or that the new Florence and the Machine single came onto today to just be the cherry on my sundae, but I’ll end on this note…

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Mandiki with Rinjani I’m the background for a little perspective

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Rob looks funny with the the wind blowing his shirt here 💘

Whether we are hiking through the mountains in Southern California or living in this magical snorkel paradise in SE Asia I am blessed because to have my best friend with me. The people you are with ALWAYS make the experience. And I am one lucky girl to have found this man to share all this with. Today was a great day!

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Rob: In the later part of the afternoon today a group came by the Earthship. We are getting used to this, so it seemed kinda’ normal. They all introduced themselves, we shook hands and I invited them in for a look around. They were very inquisitive, but in a manner different from regular tourists. They were really eager to chat and I was so proud to help them learn more about why these homes were built here of tires and bottles.  It was done by so many volunteers for them and their country to try to literally and figuratively turn the tide from recyclable material floating around in the ocean to building something sustainable and beautiful. I quickly leaned that it was a teacher from Lombok who had brought a handful of his best students specifically to visit the Earthships on Kenawa. We talked about the water collection, solar power and sewage processing systems in more detail than normal. They spoke a lot amongst themselves in excited tones and seemed to be genuinely impressed and inspired. They excused themselves quickly after taking a few pictures and I wished that they had more time to stay and talk. It was so rewarding to help them see something new – a really great part of a near perfect day.

 

To Alas market we will go…

 

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We were all smiles…

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…on the boat ride (Suji pictured picking us up in front of the house)…

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…to the harbor to head to Alas!

Alas Market by Rob

At 8am friend/coordinator Suji and our boat arrived to take us to Alas and the market. Alas is a small town about 30 minutes drive from Poto Tano Harbor which is also just a 10-15 minute boat ride from where we live in Kenawa Island. I had asked Suji to help us get a car for the trip as the communication was a bit hard to work through about motorbikes. I wasn’t sure if we would have our own or if we would both be clinging to the back of a scooter with a 13 year old kid at the controls. It’s a common sight to see a family of three or four, 2 live chickens and groceries zipping along well over every intended limit of the motorbike. The car was great and truly needed as we also bought some larger items we needed to work on the Earthship house. I later found out that we would get our own motorbike next time, thus relieving some of my stress. This got us thinking about renting or buying a small motorcycle to continue our trek after our time on Kenawa.

The locals roads are filled with horse carriages, motorbikes and small buses.

Ok. Back to the market itself. Being the tallest, whitest person anywhere I go, I hear “Hello Mister” often. I always reward the polite and just “Hello” calls with a genuine smile and happy wave that have always been returned, so far, with smiles twice as big as mine. Our first stop in the sprawling market area were the fresh produce stalls. They are clustered together in a warren of buildings and open areas mostly covered by low tarps or thatched roofs. Each purveyor has their own area and selection.

Lots of locally farmed vegetables, next to an almost identical group of veggies except you can also get eggs, next to one with only spices and next to another with just chilis, but 12 different kinds. Rows of stalls with clothes and housewares were separated from the meat and fish area. Some fish were beautifully fresh and some were definitely yesterday’s catch. “City” chickens with white breast meat are a small farmed version of what you would see in the States and “Village” chickens are an even smaller wilder breed that can live roaming free eating anything and everything.

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Giz is a hit everywhere he goes and naturally brought many smiles and giggles to the Alas market 

We passed on the fresh meat this time but know that we will carefully select some goat on our next visit. I don’t know if the Goat Butcher understood me when I told her that I’ll be back next week but I hope her shop is still in the same place. We did stock up on more veggies, eggs, soy sauce and instant coffee. More coconut biscuits, which are our afternoon or bedtime treat. A different type of egg noodle to try and some curry paste rounded out the vegetable market spree.

I also have a new favorite fruit that I could eat everyday. We were making our way around the market and back out on the road when we came across a fruit vendor selling a rainbow of unfamiliar shapes and colors from the back of her little mini truck. Snake Fruit or locally, Salak, is fantastic. It has a hard brown snake like skin over a medium firm white fruit that tastes just like strawberries. Crunchy, slightly juicy, strawberries. Awesome. We need to find her again so I can try several others I looked up on my phone afterwards.

Lacy skipped breakfast knowing we would be eating at the market. We had noticed several roadside vendors on our fast pass through Alas on our way to the Island last week. Last week… amazing that we’ve already been here a week. Brunch was already planned around something hot, grilled and decidedly non vegetarian! Across from the vegetable market our sights became fixated on a particular cart creating a wafting of animal fat smoke from a little wood fired grill that also had a small shady place behind it.

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Full and interior views of the Warung (cart) from the other side of street.  We happily ate tucked away in the shade. 

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A belly full of goat makes for happy walking 

Warung Kambing carts are a type of cart that sells grilled goat satays. There can be 3 of the exact same type lined up side by side waiting for the lunch crowd. We ordered the one and only house special and it came hot and grilled with a spicy peanut sauce and side of rice. We missed getting the brothy soup made from the bones that Suji also ordered to go with everything, but I won’t skip it next time. Very, very satisfying. And… at 20,000 Rupiah or about $1.50 US, it was a delicious bargain.

One very important reason that we chose to go to this market was to search for a “salad bowl”. Specifically a stainless steel bowl that was 60cm wide. We knew it would be hard to find, not having the luxury of wandering around in a cavernous restaurant supply warehouse in some major US city. In Earthship building, these have become a go-to to cover the top of the water cisterns. As the roof slope and shape gather every drop of rainwater possible, it is channeled through broken coral stone to slow it down and let sediment fall out. It then needs a sunlight blocking method to run into the cisterns. Stainless steel bowls with strategically drilled holes and layers of loose stone or coral are the perfect way to catch water without silt or sediment while protecting the precious water stored from sunlight and algae. We were lucky to find giant cloches that would normally be used to cover food from flies here during outdoor meals. They already had the tiny holes drilled and are exactly the same size as the 60cm opening of the cisterns. I guess I know what home improvements we will be working on for the next few days. 🙂

After enjoying one of the best snorkeling afternoons yet we enjoyed yet another great view of the fishing boats from our front porch as we relaxed after the market.

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The hobbit house

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View down on the hobbit houses from the top of the hill

The Earthships attract quite a bit of attention on the island with their unique shape and bottle work that glows in the sun. Boats arrive almost daily with small to large groups that wander the tiny island and pass our homes on the way to climb the single hill and take in the 360 view of the surrounding islands.  They would attract a certain amount of attention anywhere they reside due to their unique shape and obvious use of materials you wouldn’t typically see used in the construction of a home (tires, glass bottles, cans…), but since these are 2 of the only structures on the island and certainly the only 2 Earthships in all of Indonesia they get “oohs” and “aaahs” from every passerby as well as the obligatory photo or 3.

Left: bottle work in WC  Right: in shower room

 

The sunrise illuminates the southern wall creating a beautiful frame for the ocean between.

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And yes, they call it the “hobbit house.”  When we are home we invite the visitors into the home to experience the interior and explain how these are entirely autonomous buildings without the need to be hooked up to any sort of existing infrastructure. Electricity is provided from the sun and stored in batteries, water is harvested from the rain (we are at the tail end of the rainy season) & stored in 2 large cisterns and filtered through a series of pumps.  The tires create a structure that is stronger and more durable than typical homes and can withstand hurricanes and earthquakes. Various humitarian relief projects have been completed or are currently underway let by the pioneer, Michael Reynolds, to bring this concept to areas in need. We attended the Academy with a group of students from Puerto Rico who are now leading such an effort back home in conjunction with Earthship Biotecture. The results are amazing as it takes the debris from a storm that ravished the area and provides a home that can withstand yet another upcoming hurricane season without having to be fearful that there homes will be destroyed.

Welcoming visitors

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Yesterday, as Rob, Teri and myself cooked dinner on the veranda to the sound of the tide coming in and the sunset creating a pink sky, we were greeted by a large international group that had just arrived to the island. Barefoot and in bathing suits, approximately 20 people walked the shore in front of the house. We waved and welcomed them all in so that we could explain what it was they were marveling at. A young girl said this was something she was  very interested in. I explained the Academy that we had attended to her and wrote some information down for her to follow up on. As the boats typically arrive around 5 so that the passengers can climb the hill and enjoy the sunset view, they soon left to do that just that.

Views from the hill…

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View towards Sumbawa with clear ocean below

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Ferries running back and forth from Poto Tano Harbor

We were pleased that the captain, a local Indonesian from Lombok named Omar, stayed behind to chat while we prepared our meal. He explained that his large boat typically takes 20-40 people at a time for 3-4 days around various islands. They provide all accommodations and food for the entirety of the trip for the equivalent of $120 USD. Yep, things are crazy inexpensive here. Rob and I are thinking of hopping on one of these tours as our exit off the island on the 28th and landing on another island.  This particular boat is going to Moyo next. Omar spoke perfect English and invited us to stay at his home in Lombok when we get there as he lives right on the water and is one hour from the Rinjani trek we plan to do while here. Rinjani is the second highest active volcano in the country at 12,000+ ft elevation. One of the tourists we met tonight said he climbed it and it was an incredibly steep and difficult hike, even with porters. He was glad he did it and would never do it again. Sign me up. I’m itching for a climb that kicks my ass.  We took Omar’s number and may have him pick us up from our island at the the end of the month and stay at his place before climbing. It’s great to soak in all this information from the comfort of our veranda as people visit and pass by.  As this group descended the hill and walked back down the shore to board their boat and eat dinner we were told, “We thank you for what you are doing. The whole world thanks you.”  Those words brought a smile to all 3 of our faces because we all passionately believe in the sustainability of these homes and the importance of living in this manner.

Working in the sun

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Hardly feels like work when you are surrounded by this view

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Completing the repairs for the screen on a sand sifter. I look like a local in this SPF 50 infinity scarf I’m wearing to protect my face, hair and neck from the sun. Rob has a similar SPF bandana tucked into his hat.

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Teri opts for a local sun hat similar to what they use in China

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Repairing roof leaks

Indonesia’s numerous islands straddle both sides of the equator so not surprisingly the sun is very intense here. We knew it would be and came prepared with SPF protective clothing and lots of reef safe sunscreen. The temperature is between 80-87 degrees F with humidity at 75-85% daily. It’s hot and sticky. Thankfully, we have the ocean to cool off in and the much desired afternoon cloud cover that rolls in. The monsoon season has passed, but we are still getting occasional afternoon/evening showers that we love. It cools the day off and brings a breeze. Eventually the humidity comes back through, but we are sleeping just fine with a light sheet over us. The heat limits how much work we do outside in the middle of the day, but the snorkeling is perfect with the cloudless sky and sun shining through to illuminate the fish at this time. We have been diligent about sun protection and happy to report no sunburns have occurred. Hoping it stays that way!

 

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Relaxing in the shade with Teri after yet another lovely snorkeling date 🐠💘☀️

Completing my second cup of coffee as I finish this post and about to take a skinny dip in the ocean to smart my day. Wishing everyone a week filled with curiousity, gratitude and fulfillment.

Much love, Lacy XX

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I’m not as pale as this photo portrays! 😮 This reef safe sunscreen I brought leaves a white coat on my skin but seems to be working well 😉….we did see actual whitening soaps in the market yesterday. More on that in the next post about traveling to Alas to shop 🌴🌸🌈