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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!