Fadhila’s Cottages near Katupat

I’ve arrived! It was quite an interesting trip. Last night, I wasn’t sure if Mr. Rudi was going to bring me all the way or not. I thought so then he mentioned there are three boats. He also told me there was no reason to call Fadhila’s as they would probably be at the dock. In that state of uncertainty but definitely clear it was time to travel, I headed to bed.

For some reason, I woke at 3:00 am. Very early as I’d been told the ferry was at 6:00 am. However, at 4:30, they started loading my pack on the boat and I looked East as I heard the sounds of the Puspita Ferry heading to Melenge already.

We pursued it and I was a bit nervous as Mr. Rudi periodically flashed his flashlight to signal them. Silly me! I thought they might dock, drop off their passengers and be off again. Silly me again! This IS Indonesia and things simply don’t work fast.

We got there, I got on, took my pack inside the ship where the sleeping bunks are, went back to the top deck because it was too hot and stuff down there, and waited until the ferry was ready to leave an hour later. Fortunately, I did coffee, the instant Mocha packets I’ve come to appreciate more than the regular coffee. When I asked how much and he hesitated, I knew I’d be getting the tourist price.

A young man asked me where I was going while we were en-route. His Uncle is the manager here and his brother manages the front desk. Before the ferry came to a halt, he picked up my heavy backpack and headed down the stairs to the deck below and the exit to the dock. On deck was the manager from the hotel, his brother and a boat waiting to bring me across. It was 7:15 and I was checked into my new room by 7:30.

It’s taken a bit to get used to here. There are only two other guests, one from Spain and the other from France. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were accompanied by a bit of awkward silence. They are not very expressive or conversational but seem like nice men.

It’s more noisy than Lestari on Melenge, a lot more boat traffic from the village of Katupat 400 meters away and the local mosque plays prayers through their speakers five times a day. I’m only guessing but pretty certain I’ll be hearing that at 4:30 am as well.

I was tired from the short night and spent most of the day in the hammock relaxing and reading between dozing off. I got a lot of rest and didn’t realize I needed it. This island feels cooler or perhaps it’s just the weather pattern. This afternoon, I went for a short snorkel without fins until the blisters on the arches of my feet heal from the last set of fins I used. It was gorgeous and I saw a lot of Lion Fish!

Shortly after showering and getting a coffee, I watched storm clouds move in from the East and the curtain of white beneath indicate rain was approaching. I stood on the dock and watched before refreshing my coffee and returning to my bungalow.

It rained, I sat in my bungalow with the windows open and the cool breeze flowing through writing; perfect match!

If transport was available, I’d probably leave tomorrow. Since it isn’t until Sunday, I’ll relax for two more days. When I start trekking and hiking the valleys of Tentena and Tana Toraja, I’m sure I’ll appreciate the rest.

Latest travel updates continue to be cloudy regarding transport schedules, times, days, etc. When do the ferries run? Sunday, maybe Saturday, market day Sunday so there will be lots of boats. Two days after Friday!

Can I take the ferry to Bomba? “NO, no ferry to Bomba. You can take the ferry to Ampana and then come back to Bomba on another ferry”. Ferry very expensive! Lots of boats from Wakai on Sunday, market day, to Bomba. You can ask the Captain of the ferry, he’ll call you and have a boat pick you up. Yes, very expensive.

I mentioned what Mr. Rudi told me about talking to the captain. Iful said, “Oh Yes! I’ll ask tomorrow!” However, tomorrow was yesterday and there was no boat yesterday. The boat just left so perhaps today?

One of the three public boats is all white. Mr. Rudi told me to talk to the captain, ask him to drop me in Bomba but pay my ticket to Ampana and he’ll drop me off. If that works, it’ll cost me $45,000, the same fare as going all the way to Ampana.

From “no ferry” to maybe ferry to we’ll talk to the captain tomorrow and finally “yes it’s possible but it’s expensive. Once again, when it’s time to travel, I’ll take a leap and see what shows up. As you’ve noticed from reading my repots, at every stage of my trip so far, it’s worked out perfectly for me.

Last night in Lestari Melenge

I’ve been here for three days but it feels like I’ve been here for a week or more. Slow pace, deep quiet, silence at night so penetrating it wakes me up. No dogs barking, no honking horns, no traffic, just the slight sound of the generator on the other side of the island, muffled by all the distance and vegetation.

This morning, it was rainy and drizzly. Everyone had a slow start to the day. Mr. Rudi and his friends played cards until nearly 2:00 am. I heard the generator shut off and saw the flashlight coming back over the hill from turning it off.

Breakfast around 8:45, lovely pancakes with some sort of apple filling and fresh pineapple. I didn’t have the stomach for the local coffee this morning so went with tea again. The tea is light and smooth.

Writing after breakfast, I was struck by the ease of flow here. We are nearly at the last island in the Togian Island chain. The Sea Gypsy village next door provides a little evidence of daily routines. Children walk the bridge to school ar 6:30 or 7:00 am, laughing and hopping as they go. Fishing boats leave and return in the afternoon. Children returning in the afternoon give evidence that the day had advanced. Evening comes with glorious sunset off the clouds to the east and shortly thereafter, the music starts at Bajo (the Sea Gypsey village).

I went for a long hike into the forest before lunch. The trails here know no switch backs. Straight up and straight down, they follow ridge lines. The rain made things slippery and the rain increased the moisture in the forest to nearly 100%! I was drenched and very happy. They have a species of Macaque here that exist only here but I wasn’t luck enough to see any. They also have the Tarsier, the smallest monkey in the world and I was unable to spot one of those as well.

A rainbow of butterflies showed, colorful dragon flies, small lizards with brilliant blue tails, hornbills flying overhead with a distinct swooshing sound as they fly. I spotted some sort of eagle or hawk with brilliant white head and rusty red feathers.

After lunch, I stretched in the hammock with my iPod and a book. The iPod won over and soon my eyes were closed and I was deep in sleep. It was one of those naps where waking takes a while to orient to time and location. Very restful!

Swaying gently in my hammock, I realized it’s been days since my money mattered. Here, it’s one price for everything, $150,000 for the room and all meals. Any extra’s like a coke or beer, they get entered on a page in the book and you pay when you leave. No money has exchanged hands. I wasn’t even sure when my passport wallet was!

Time drops away as well. The day drifts from one activity to another. Waking oozes into breakfast into relaxing or snorkeling or reading or hammock time or talking with friends and suddenly, the sun is setting once again and the sky ablaze. Another day has passed and the clock was never very relevant.

Yesterday seems like a blur already, days of the week disappear unless it’s a travel day and there’s a need to know the ferry schedule. We were talking with Mr. Rudi today about the ferry schedule and the schedule for the local boats. He was telling us what days the local boat runs, to what towns, and what time as well as when the big ferry operates back to Gorontalo.

I was calculating what day I needed to leave here to continue hopping islands on my way South to the mainland again when I realized I wasn’t even sure what today was?!

Highlights jump out more. Yesterday was a snorkeling trip where we were accompanied by three pods of dolphins. One came up swimming right beside the bow of our little boat. Others swam farther away or deeper and we stared in delight at their companionship. Yes, that stands out!

This afternoon, I went for tea and looked to the water beside the dining area seeing something odd snake through the water. A snake fish swam toward the dock, head of a snake and tail of an eel. I’ll remember that.

Mr. Rudi, even after 15 years of living here and operating Lestari Bungalows, suddenly exploded with excitement pointing at the water, “Dog Fish! Dog Fish”! It was a treat seeing him maintain so much excitement even after all these years.

My first morning here, as their only guest, he asked me what I wanted for breakfast? I asked if they had banana pancakes? He came back and said there were only banana for frying, not for pancakes. He asked if I didn’t like Nasi Goerang? I told him I did but I’ve just had so much of it lately. He brought out a plate of breaded fried banana’s that were wonderful and a plate of fresh papaya.

Yesterday morning, I went for breakfast with Mike and Cat, and he brought out plates of traditional green pancakes (the consistency of a crepe) wrapped around a banana….banana pancakes! Today, they made what would be conventional pancakes in the US doubled over a pineapple filling and delicious!

Tonight, he snuck up beside Cat and sat a Sprite by her. She asked for it the first night and they had none. Yesterday, she asked but they hadn’t gone to town. Tonight, he brought her a surprise.

Tomorrow is supposed to be my boat day, a short trip to Fadhila Cottages near Katupat. I understood that the boat leaves at 6:00 am but we need to leave here at 5:00 am to get there in time. Tonight, I asked if it was important to call Mr. Andy and let him know I was coming. He said no, there would be lots of boats at Katupat to take me over when we arrive. He is taking me all the way in his boat.

Such a lovely, peaceful and attentive place to be. I’ll be sad leaving new friends and curious to see what the next place is like. Mr. Rudi gets excited and gives me a “thumbs up” every time he mentions Fadhila’s.