October 1 6:40 pm Kumai River (Off tomorrow early for a 3 day trip up the river to Camp Leakey to see the orang utan conservation area.)
When we lived in China, Hong Kong, Subic, and Kota Kinabalu all for extended periods of time, it was easier to write emails because, mostly, days were uneventful. When something unusual happened, there was time to write about it because the next day was probably filled with routine, leaving lots of time to think about and write an email. I’m only now realizing the luxury of having enough time in one place. And even with the time we had, we both wish for more time in China, places in the Philippines, and Kota Kinabalu. I’d like more time in Hong Kong and Randal in Subic Bay. Now it seems as soon as we arrive, it’s time to go. Tana Toraja and Ubud definitely needed more than 3 days. And we hardly saw Makassar though we were anchored there 8 days. It’s hard not to feel overwhelmed with sights and sounds. I guess I am having to become more selective about what I can share. Bits here and there; not long stories about kids and school visits and such. Sometimes, like special trips to places like Tana Toraja and Ubud and our up-coming orang utan conservation area visit, are so special they demand more time and space.
Added to the new anchorages we see, some on a daily basis, are the new Sail Indonesia participants we meet along the way. We cruised from Lovina to Kumai in the company of 5 other boats. During a night passage radio communications is very reassuring. Like when bikers warn each other about pot holes or gravel in the road ahead; cruisers warn each other about fish traps, towed barges and anything else not easily seen at night. It’s easier to interpret a radar screen if someone can say, “yes, those double bits of light are a barge being towed; it already passed us.” Or Peter, from The Southern Cross telling me it’s a squid boat fishing in one spot, so no need to wake Randal to ask what to do. Actually, though Peter was reassuring, when our radar said, DANGEROUS TARGET for the second time and it was within the mile radar ring of our boat, I did wake Randal. But my 3 am to 7 am watch I did completely on my own. The boat Tonic is cruising along too; that’s tonic spelled with a tilted cocktail glass replacing the i. There is also Just Jane, Saraoni, Sea Bunny, and Solan. Jo from Just Jane has the knack for saying the exact right thing. You can hear cruisers speaking to each other over the shared Indonesia Sail channel 77. It’s as if she has read, memorized, or possibly written, one of those “what to say on any occasion” books. Caught off guard or on the spur of the moment I might say something inappropriate, or hopefully just become catatonic in response. Jo says something clever, complementary, or just matter-of-fact. We will all be here on the Kumai River for about 10 days so hopefully I’ll get to know faces to put with the voices and names. I have met some of these people before. But having listened in on shared conversations, sometimes with us too, I have gotten to know them better.
It is now many days later and we have in fact gotten to know Peter and Kathryn from “The Southern Cross” and Jo and Arnold from “Just Jane”. They came for a Happy Hour(s) on DoraMac one evening last week. Really nice, friendly, interesting people; all Australians. All of us were about the same age, though Randal, at 60, was the oldest. Peter was in politics, though not a politician he was quick to point out, Kathryn worked with the people who had suffered brain injuries, Jo was a special ed teacher of emotionally challenged elementary age children and Arnold managed a company that dealt with electrical concerns. We tried to talk him into climbing our mast to fix the anchor light, but no luck! We talked cruising, boats, books, world politics….the time flew. We only knew bits and pieces of their stories when they left. Hopefully we will have more chances along the way for another Happy Hour. I did lend Kathryn a Jane Austen biography so I know we will meet up again. I hadn’t read it yet so couldn’t give it to her. But I did pass along eat pray love since I had read it and they had also been to Ubud. When I mentioned the library Kathryn gave Peter a “how did we miss it?” look. I told her I had already read about it so knew it was there to look for. It really isn’t on the list of tourist stops in any literature about Ubud.
They asked if we knew much about Australia and its politics. “No.” Though I did get some points for having read Jill Kerr Conway’s Road from Courain and had seen” A Town Like” Alice on Masterpiece Theatre. Crocodile Dundee gets you no points. I pled New England provincialism. If it wasn’t happening in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont or Massachusetts (eastern Mass that is) than I didn’t really know about it. Except for Viet Nam and Russia which I did study at U Mass. And the time I spent in Chicago. Aussies and Canadians either don’t see us as idealistic though (sometimes bumbling) do gooders trying to help the world’s people. They see us as having a nationalistic and economic agenda and basing our foreign policy on those principles. I don’t argue because how they see us comes from their Australian or Canadian view of the world. I guess I still believe someone has to stand up to tyrants. As everyone was leaving I asked about the name, “Just Jane”. I happen to like it; sounds like a Young Adult book title. Far from it!!! Joe and Arnold bought the boat already named by its original owner after a British stripper named Jane. She would take off her clothes and then it would be….just Jane! Since it’s bad luck to change a boat’s name, Just Jane it is still. The Southern Cross was named for the stars. Randal and I both called it Southern Comfort, much to Peter’s chagrin.
The little water front town of Kumai has little to offer but its warm friendliness and cute smiling waving kids yelling, “hello Mister!” Hello Mister!!! When Randal and I got separated on the main street while shopping for food (me) and hardware (Randal), the locals pointed the way I should go when they saw me looking around and around for him. The kids call out, teens call out and ask, “where are you going?” and the old people, shy, steal looks until I look back and smile and then they give a big smile in return. No beggars, no one trying to sell you something. We eat in the same restaurant every day, where the locals eat. Wash your hands first at the sink by the door, because that’s what the Muslim people do, get a plate, get your rice and point to the other food you want. My favorite is the corn fritter. Eat too much, pay very little.
And how ‘bout them Sox!! Going to the playoffs!!! We will be up the river on our way to the Urang Utan Conservation area when they start playing the LA Angeles. But I have done all I can do; bought lucky charms, made an offering to Neptune, and will even be wearing my red 2004 World Series socks when we start off tomorrow. The rest is up to Theo, Tito and the team.