08/11/2012, Balurin, Lomblen Island
As visitors to another country we often wonder what goes through the minds of people who see us arrive by yacht to anchor in their bays. The juxtaposition of Paikea Mist against the obvious material poverty in many places we've visited is one that is uncomfortable for us. We are always searching for ways to erase these differences and interact with locals in a natural way. Most of the time, our best interactions have been right here on Paikea Mist, where we have had many visitors enjoy our cockpit for a friendly exchange. Our favourite is often the spontaneous interaction with kids who come to visit us. Most kids are naturally very curious and uninhibited at the same time, and are often very open to teaching us their language as we help them with their English. I'm pretty sure when the kids leave they will remember these friendly and fun exchanges for most of their lives, and hopefully narrow the gap in their minds a tiny bit.
Yesterday we wove our way in through the reef system to anchor by the small town of Balurin, on Lomblen Island. This small fishing village hangs on the edge of a deep protected bay, some of the homes built right over the water on stilts. Once anchored, the smallest of children skilfully paddled their dugout canoes to welcome us.
"Welcome to Indonesia, Meester!" The result was the best part of a day spent with these wonderful kids coming and going from Paikea Mist. They were polite, asked for nothing, and would vacate the cockpit immediately when we asked them to leave to get a bit of peace and quiet!
We found the best way to interact was through a sheet with both English and Bahasha Indonesian on it- they were much better at reading English than hearing it, and all wanted to practice their exchanges.
The boys loved leaping off the side of our boat, while the girls were generally far more interested in learning English! One of the young teenagers Ano, even took me out for a ride in his dugout canoe! I was amazed at how sturdy the canoe was, as I walked the length of it to take my perch at the bow. A cultural exchange at its best!
See photo gallery for more images from Balurin!
All the children have their own chores around the orphanage. The all work together, including planting and tending a vegetable garden from which they are able to feed themselves, as well as have some extra to sell at the market. All of the children also go to school, and two of them have won the top scholarship award for high marks. Every year, Sail Indonesia participants contribute to a scholarship fund for students going on to University. Interesting that all winners of the scholarship were girls.
What does it take to make a child happy? Love and a sense of belonging.
Here is another video of these amazing kids, I hope those of you with high band width will enjoy watching this video- these children are so heartwarming. I hope you enjoy! If there is anyone looking to sponsor an orphanage out there, let us know...
08/05/2012, Rosalin Kupang Orphanage
While we were in Kupang, we viisited the Roslin Orphanage, where 92 children from ages 2-19 live in a small rural area in very modest conditions. These brave young children blew us away with their song and dance performance. They live together as family as they have all lost their own parents. Without anything in the way of material goods, they showed us how little it really takes to make a child happy and successful. Love, a sense of family and a belief in the greater good goes a very long way.
For folks following this path next year, don't miss the opportunity to visit this orphanage. In one of those twists of human circumstances, these children who have so little gave so much to us, and we want to thank them for sharing, and wish them all the best in their lives, in their education and future endeavors. We will remember you fondly.
08/05/2012, Alor Island, Indonesia
Current takes a bite out of our boat speed- the top number is our speed over water, the bottom one is the progress we are making over ground once the current takes its share
Michael and I just completed our first overnight passage in Indonesian waters, leaving Kupang yesterday afternoon for the next island of Alor. While Michael slept on his shift from 3-7 am, I had Paikea Mist screaming along at a steady 10.2 knots, however with the current against us we were only making 6.8 knots over ground. Darn! Running against us at 2-5 knots the entire trip, the current turned what would have been a pretty short hop of 140 nm passage into a 22 hour trip!
As we approached the island archipelago in the early morning, the first rays cast their light across steep volcanic hillsides. The scenery was stunning, and we had loads of time to enjoy it seeing that we were progressing at under 3 knots for many miles! We passed several villages scattered along the waterfront, while some were nestled high on the hillsides, and a few could be found snuggled right under steaming volcanoes. Through our binoculars we could see signs of people starting to stir, going about their daily tasks, while fishing boats of every color steamed by, some of them coming in for a close look, a warm wave, smiles and welcome. Even the smallest village has a large Mosque, towering over everything else, their shiny peaks glistening in the sun as the calls to prayers ring out.
It is mid afternoon now, and we are safely tucked into our new anchorage as other boats pile in. Children are lining the breakwater, shouting and waving in excited anticipation of the large fleet of sailors about to descend on their town.
Michael has just left the boat in the dinghy to help another Cdn boat, SV Ainia, who has experienced engine trouble and has been pulled in to the anchorage by a French catamaran. Michael will tie our dinghy alongside to help him anchor - with its 20 HP engine it will make short work of finding a snug spot for Ainia. Behind Ainia is yet another boat under tow who has also experienced engine troubles. This is one of the benefits of travelling in a larger group, where there is always another cruiser who is interested in your safety and well-being.
Once Michael gets back onboard, we will enjoy the late afternoon over a cold beer! I forgot to mention that it is HOT here, about 34 degrees today. No wonder engines are bothered!
08/01/2012, Kupang, Indonesia
Kupang is a kaleidoscopic of colorful images.Our camera has been trigger happy- hope you enjoy the new photos in our photo gallery!
07/31/2012, Kupang, Indonesia
It's early morning, and the low sun has already begun to wrap its hot hands over the sprawling city of Kupang, Indonesia. Puffs of smoke, perhaps from woodburning kitchens, rise up here and there and drift lazily through the anchorage. The smell is intoxicating as it mixes with overtones of the exotic eastern scents of city life in Kupang.
At high tide, water laps up against a mishmash of concrete walls interspersed with sandy beaches and rocky shorelines. This pattern is randomly pasted together to define the coastline as far as one can see. Buildings of all dimensions stand buttressed behind the walls, stacked side by side in a jumbled mess of waterfront property -a Riviera of sorts, Indonesian style. The cement foundations cling to the water's edge, desperate to maintain a foothold. Buildings of yesteryear lay where the ocean has claimed them, fallen this way and that, foreshadowing the future of the new buildings which have sprouted up around the ruins. Optimism rules here it seems.
On the small section of road which is open to the sea, a steady stream of mopeds, vans and trucks steadily whiz by. Repetitive high pitched honking backed by the dull roar of traffic is interspersed with booming loudspeakers calling the devote Muslins to prayer. It's Ramadan here in Indonesia, a month long period of prayer and contemplation, whereby the devote fast between sunrise and sundown. Despite this, there is a large welcoming area for the Sail Indonesia fleet with colourful flags and kiosks at the water's edge.
After two and a half days and over 450 nautical miles at sea, all of these sights and sounds are magnified: a veritable sensory feast for eyes, ears and soul. Behind this first impression, a city, an island and no doubt an entire country are about to cast their magical spell.
I say, bring it on.