Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Sumba and Independence Day

After the misfortune of the split tube on Sal Darago's dinghy, and also the failing starter motor on Ellida (which after rewiring operated satisfactorily), we agreed that Sal Darago and Ellida should sail together in the interests of mutual assistance, ‘buddy boats’ is the American expression. Indonesia and in particular this outlying part of the country is not a place to be stranded because help in the form of spares and repairs is simply not available.

Map picture

We set off for Waingapu on the island of Sumba; 110 miles (which to us equates to a little under 24 hours) and we arrived mid morning to face an awkward harbour entrance. It looked clear enough on the large scale map, but the fine detail was omitted. There is a reef which protects the harbour and Sal Darago, in the lead, had to sail way to the west to find sufficient depth to cross the reef and make their way back to the harbour. We followed and passed a typical rusting and about to crumble marker buoy showing the way in.


The local harbourmaster had shouted to Jeremy as Sal Darago motored in and indicated to him the precise place where he should anchor.



P1140822Not quite where he would have chosen, a little too close to a commercial boat for comfort, and necessitating a stern anchor to be added.


We followed and were directed to a spot just 50 metres away, rather better in fact.

First impressions were of a busy bustling harbour with more than its fair share of decaying hulks.


A wharf near Sal Darago had two large vessels tied to, one of which was emitting clouds of dust whilst the other was wonderfully typical of this part of the world and was home to men ,dogs and goats.


The remainder of the inlet close to the town was full of tiny fishing boats, very slender, often with outriggers and most fitted with the familiar single cylinder, hand started Chinese manufactured engine.


Barely had we anchored than we were accosted by a young man who had some English and wished to be our guide. We postponed any decisions at that time, but we would meet him later on the wharf. Our Rally guides had advised us that we have no requirement for paperwork or checking-in at any islands other than the ones they stipulate, so the way seemed clear for us to journey ashore.

Taking the dinghies we found a fairly easy place to get ashore in amongst the tiny fishing boats. We were greeted by several locals and were spotted by our potential guide. We have an agenda; we need water, provisions, laundry and glue for repairing a dinghy. Our guide seemed to think he could help us in those respects, so we agreed terms and set off.

I'm not sure what I expected, but it's bigger than I thought; quite a large town in fact with a population of 53,000.


It is the capital of the Sumba regency and the largest town on the island. We explored the main shopping street, paying special attention to any likely looking chandleries.


Jeremy was unable to find the correct vinyl cement, but I found some large sized Jubilee clips for our exhaust system (the old ones were looking a little corroded).


Of course there were some delightfully ramshackle buildings, also street vendors  and marvellously decorated buses to photograph.


The 17th August is Indonesian Independence day and it feels like everyone is at the town stadium.


We made our way to a stepped monument overlooking the main field, an excellent vantage point from which to watch and take photos.


We were surrounded by small children and parents.






Two sides of the field are filled  children  all in  smart school uniform  standing in neat lines without any shade as a part of the grand parade.





P1140885On the third side of the stadium the VIPs gather under the protection of specially erected marquees with the all important flag pole before them centre stage.

First the speeches. We have been told by Indonesians that their politicians measure the excellence of their speeches more by duration than quality. This has certainly been borne out at the events we have attended - and this was no exception.

The highlight was the 'raising the flag' ceremony, performed with beautifully exaggerated precision by one male and one female soldier. By now several of the children had to be helped as the sun was too much for them. The politicians were fine.


Followed by  the parade that everyone had been waiting for.


Military, youth bands, school children and dance troops, all great fun.



There were also greasy pole challenges for the energetic.


Jeremy is nearly two metres tall and proves to be a great attraction with the young people. As an ex-school teacher he has a natural rapport with the young and there is always a clamour to be photographed with him!


P1140914Our guide then took us for lunch and a trip to see an Ikan factory. Part of the trip was in a rickshaw powered by pedal-power – a novel way to travel, but a method that is effective and is even used for commercial purposes here. It is hard going on the pedallers though.







P1140942At the Ikan workshop we felt there was a bit of slick selling going on. But the items were extremely expensive – hundreds of dollars! And to be frank, we have neither use nor space for such items on the boat. However the skill in preparing and weaving  all still done by hand was impressive.





The next day we returned to our first guide and agreed to a minibus trip because his friend has a bus and we could have a charter ride, just the four of us.  Waingapu has a beautiful P1140956purpose made  nightmarket area which was not open , but the construction of the stalls was interesting,

…then on to a splendid street market that was definitely open and we bought provisions.





We then drove out of town to see a traditional village. This one had many wood and straw buildings but some stone (including the last  King’s tomb shown below). There was a strong hierarchy in place and we were introduced to the folks that mattered.


A good day out and we said goodbye to our guide and his minibus owning friend.

Time to press on the next island.

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