Our check-in at Kupang with all the Indonesian officials went quite well. Tons of officials to see and papers and stamped documents to give and get, but it all went pretty smoothly. A few people who got here early (before the officials could figure out how to proceed with their masses of paper) ended up having a more difficult time than those of us who arrived on the expected days. The officials were pretty serious about their paperwork but most were quite friendly. Those who came to inspect the boat seemed to be quite hungry and thirsty, but it did not take much to make them happy.
The harbor is not clean and the place we land our dinghies has filthy water – particularly at low tide. There are a group of “boat boys” who have managed to commandeer a going rate of 35000 rupiahs a day to help with dinghies (about $3.50). This is a very high price for Indonesia, but unfortunately, once a few cruisers agreed to this, the price seemed to be set. The service, is however, really nice to have as they are very helpful and they lift the dinghies up and out of the water for you when you arrive and bring them safely up the beach, and then they carry them right back into the water for you when you leave and even push you off. It’s so helpful. They will do it as many times a day as you want for that set price per day.
All the prices have been jacked up very high for us cruisers – but compared to Australia things are still cheap. Bananas are under $1 for a big bunch compared to the $2 each piece that they were in Australia. A delicious lunch out will cost you anywhere from $2 to $4. Mark finds the most delicious restaurants and impresses everyone with his knowledge of Indonesian culture and food. Almost all the people we have met have been very happy to meet us and the kids are full of smiles. We just love the food here… it is so tasty! There are a few dishes that I remember vividly from our time spent in Indonesia nearly 30 years ago. I was afraid that they wouldn’t be so good after so many years, but they are still amazingly tasty.
Fuel…. This has been a bit of a headache. It was promised that fuel would be available for all the boats – many of whom are greatly in need of it – and I think everyone eventually got what they needed, but it was not easy. You have to get your fuel only from some guy down at the beach and he apparently did not grease the wheels well enough at the sole fuel company of Indonesia (Pertamina). Some people were promised fuel delivery to their boats and waited an entire day or more without anyone showing up. Others were promised fuel if they brought their jerry cans to the beach, but also had to wait a long time, or go with less than they were promised. The price of fuel doubled for a short while from the original price that was posted, but I think that too many of the sailors refused to pay (thank goodness) and the prices suddenly dropped back to what was promised.
We managed to get some fuel today after making friends with one of the very nice ladies from the tourist office, who is welcoming the boats here. Mark told her he was interested in eating Indonesian fried chicken and she immediately offered to take us to a good restaurant using the government automobile ( a super nice air-conditioned SUV). It was a fantastic meal and on the way back she asked us if there was anything else we wanted or needed and we mentioned fuel and she whispered that she could help us get some. An hour later we had 60 liters of fuel delivered to the dock. Today we got another 60 liters so we are all set – just a tiny bit short of full.
The other boats on the rally are a uniformly nice and very friendly group. There are about 75 boats here with us. We know lots of them from our trip up the coast and lots more from being in Tipperary Waters Marina. We continue to meet new people every day and we feel we really are lucky to have such a great group with us.
The rally organized a big festive welcome dinner last night and everyone came. There were some speeches and thank you’s and then a nice buffet dinner and a bit of Indonesian music and then they suddenly started playing really loud rock and roll and jazz and blues . One of the singers was dressed head to toe in a hijab, but she was belting out rock and roll like a pro. Then our tourist agency friend turned up on the stage and started belting out songs like Aretha Franklin. It was pretty amazing. At first I was disappointed because I had wanted to see and hear Indonesian music and dance, but then all the cruisers started dancing and we joined in and had a great time. They are having a second welcome party tonight but we are too exhausted to go.