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.

From Lestari Kadidiri to Lestari Melenge

I’m sitting at the East end of the Island of Melenge in Lestari Bungalows. There are two Lestari’s here. The one near the dock in Melenge is the Losmen. Take a boat from there to the bungalows about 20 minutes away. Lovely beach, very quiet, hammocks on the porch of bungalows. Newer bungalows with private bath are currently $150,000 including all meals. Older bungalows with shared bath are $100,000.

Mr. Rudi has been very helpful. When we first approached the dock in Melenge and I was a bit taken back as it wasn’t nearly what I’d expected. He told me we would be there five minutes then go on to the bungalows. Relieved and curious, I waited until we set off.

The bungalows are approached through a small bay behind. It was dark and I couldn’t see what awaited me but could hear the ocean gently lapping through the trees. Lights across the way illuminated Bajo village, the Sea Gypsy village. Stars filled the night as no clouds or city lights obscured the view. Amazing stars so close you could almost touch them. I tried!

Sunrise revealed what I hadn’t seen before, gorgeous white beach, turquoise colors reminiscent of the Caribbean, and stillness all around. I spent the day reading, relaxing and writing. Eventually, I got out my snorkeling gearI could easily have stayed a week relaxing and exploring. Snorkeling at Reef #5 was great ($50,000 per person), the food was excellent (local fisherman delivering fresh catch each day) and the family was very helpful.

This is my favorite resting spot of the trip so far. It’s peaceful, profoundly so. I wake at night realizing it’s the absolute absence of any noise that’s waking me. Then I drift off to a deep and restful sleep. From the hammock, I listen to the sounds of the waves gently lapping the shore, their rhythmic cycle lulling me to deep relaxation. There’s fresh water for showering, many bungalows use sea water. The family is great, Cat and Mike are great company: you get the idea!

I’m headed to Fadhila Cottages near Katupat tomorrow then on to Bomba. The current schedule is for ferries to travel from Katupat to Wakai to Ampana on Sunday or Tuesday or Thursady at well, sometime. I’ll know more when I get to the ferry terminal.

I’ve been told there are many options from Katupat to Bomba including talking to the captain on the all white boat from Wakai to Ampana. Buy your ticked to Ampana, talk to the captain explaining you want of in Bomba, they will drop you and with a phone call, pick you up to complete the journey to Ampana. I’ll let you know how that part works when I get there.

Next update, I’ll write a quick note once I arrive at Fadhila’s Cottages.