Indonesia in Perspective
We left Horn Island Australia on July 21st and it seems a very long time ago. We had to travel about 700 miles just to get to the eastern region of Indonesia and fortunately we had little difficulty with our paperwork clearing in. We have sailed now about 4000 miles west to get to the Singapore area and have visited perhaps 25 different harbors and towns.
All of the people we met along the way were happy and helpful and sometimes amazingly good natured. This was our first experience with living in a Muslim country and we were struck by the amount of time practicing this religion requires. We were awakened usually at 0430 or 0500 every morning to the loudspeakers of the many mosques calling people to prayer. Seven days a week with no breaks. Five times during the days the process was repeated. We stayed in some Christian towns that had few Muslims and the culture style and habits of the residents were quite different.
Everywhere the government's presence was sensed either by officials or by signage. The poverty was desperate as well as the quality of life. Despite the squalor, the garbage and the rats, the people went through their daily lives struggling but seemingly happy. All the men smoke spiced cigarettes and the woman minded the stores.
I had great help in arranging some machining to fix the furler and there was camaraderie with all that helped us.
Nowhere was it written that at this time of year the water is filled with plankton which retards visibility and in only one area of the whole trip were we not disappointed with visbility. The diversity of sea life, especially the coral was amazing and never seen before but there were few fish over 6 inches long. They have mostly been killed off. We even passed by a boat dynamiting a reef to harvest the fish.
Some of the resorts were decadent and all but few of the cruisers could afford to frequent these places. Many cruisers went on commercial dives but in general had the same disappointment with water quality that we had with snorkeling.
The greatest draw to the rally was the great people we met along the way, some of whom we hope will remain life long friends. Otherwise, for us, our rally was a disappointment. The organizers were absent and responsibility was placed on an agent who we disliked and distrusted. Many time we were told untruths and wasted our effort and time (and money) correcting preventable problems.
In certain places we were scammed by officials and I suppose this is inevitable in a country with so much corruption and inequality between the masses and the 1 percent. It seems the policies are well designed to keep the poor people preoccupied with survival while the rich harvest their wealth in a different sphere. The history of Indonesia is replete with examples of how the powers that be have dominated the local citizens.
Our experience on Always Saturday was tainted because for some reason it seems all we did was deal with malfunctions and failures. Never in the 26 years that I have owned this boat have I been so overwhelmed with repair after repair. Nancy, of course, has been ready to move ashore for a while and we are doing our best to make that a reality but in the meantime we plan to maintain and cruise the boat in Malaysia and Thailand. We look forward to the upcoming visits by our children and will do the best to keep up the blog.
From the Crew of Always Saturday