Banda -- the Spice Islands.
25 November 2013 | 4 31.374'S:129 53.872'E, Banda Neira
We are getting ready to leave the Banda, aka the Spice Islands. What a wonderful place. We thoroughly enjoyed learning new details about the original spice trade that we've all heard about. And the people were wonderfully nice.
Its a strange place in many respects. Beautiful remnants of the colonial past, with all of its greatness and nastiness, juxtaposed with the current culture and all of its problems of modern life. Beautifully nice and warm people, juxtaposed against cultural and religious conflicts in the early 2000's where muslims killed christians on these islands, causing nearly all christians to leave. Oddly, along with the departure of the Christians, the dogs on the islands were killed so you see only scrawny cats and no typical tropical dogs lying about. The whole area of the Moluccas suffered from violence between Christians and Muslims recently. Here it happened to be one sided, as I understand it. But apparently it is all settled and everyone seems to get along well -- and consistent with all of our experiences in Indonesia so far -- everyone has been wonderfully friendly, nice, generous, curious and helpful.
But it still has some of the most typical issues of cruising in exotic places. The most mundane things can be an adventure. The other day we needed to refuel. But the island fuel station was out of fuel. As such we'd been told we could nevertheless buy fuel from a few people who stock up on, for 90,000Rp/Liter (a little over $3 per gallon). We'd heard that a fuel boat was coming in, and that we'd be able to get it a 60,000rp/liter (a little over $2 per gallong). So we waited, and sure enough a Fuel Tanker came in -- its in the picture, with the gas station in the background. Quite the suspect vessel--but it did bring fuel. Since there is no fuel dock we had to bring 100Liters of jerry-jugs to the gas station, and we planned to make 5 trips. Which is about 2/3 of a days worth of work. However, after our first 100Liters, and official came and explained to us that we couldn't buy any more fuel because it was only for the fisherman. He said the gas station runs out, an d they need to make sure the fisherman have enough. Conveniently, however, we could buy some from him for 90,000 per liter. He didn't point out that part of the reason that the gas station runs out is that people like him stock up, and then sell it to the fisherman at a 50% mark-up from the pump price. The 90,000 didn't only apply to us (which is actually atypical). There didn't seem much point in pointing this out to the official. We did ask if we could have 100 more at the pump if we bought 300 more from him -- he said yes :). And he delivered it! Which saved carrying the jugs. No small bit of assistance. However, the fuel was dirty enough, that the filter-funnel I poured it through clogged pretty fast, and it took almost three hours to pour the fuel into the tanks. And it made a huge mess.... Which I increased by forgetting to close a return line valve, while changing all our fuel filters on board. What a dirty, smelly, hot, humid, sticky day!!
Fortunately, I discovered the value of nutmeg freshly grated over an ice cold rum punch poured right when the sunset over the volcano 500 yards to the west of us. So it was a good day. And the tanks are full, both mine and the boat's.