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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A full moon accompanied the sunset for our final evening…