Saturday, August 6, 2011

Leaving Saumlaki

We are all still reeling from the tour – it was full-on for us Westerner's – so used to personal space. We potter about slowly fixing a few things on the boat. We feel guilty for not going in for a tour of some of the local schools but we're just too tired. Eventually we head in to complete more paperwork – this time port clearance. We have our first restaurant meal with friends from the catamaran Malonga. It comes to AUD$3 each. Penny and I buy fresh food and fruit at the local berapa (markets). We use one stallholders request for photo's as a haggling technique and are amazed at how cheap the bananas are. They're probably even cheaper for the locals. Rene discovered that we were all being charged 4000Rp for bottled water while the locals pay 1200Rp. 
Street scene, Saumlaki (the hotel is not yet open and is the newest building)

Rene buys some stainless steel rod which he has fashioned into our new Aries windvane blade. The wooden versions keep snapping off, despite all our careful designs, cutting, sanding and painting. He also tries to fix his phone as it's not connecting to the internet. We buy more phone credit too. Our first lot ran out fast as one phone call to Australia lasting 49 seconds cost me $3. It takes us all a few days to work out what codes to use for text messages to get through to Australia. No internet but at least we've been able to communicate with our families through text messages.

We fill up our jerry cans with water that we're assured is safe for drinking and two of the guides, Bobby and Nellis, who were helping out come over to the boat with us for a brief visit. Bobby had been offered to visit an American yacht but had been too scared to get in the dinghy as he can't swim. We convinced him it would be fine – he was freaking out a bit on the way but really loved it once he'd faced the fear.
Bobby and Nellis in our dinghy
After pouring 60 litres of Saumlaki water into our tanks, we find that it might not be a clean as we were told. I'm glad I convinced Rene to only fill our forward (bathroom) tank. I mix up a bleach solution which is poured into the tanks to purify the water for our sensitive Western bellies. 
Penny and I smiling (though this pic is out at sea)
In the afternoon we learn of a party that has been organised for us. Most of the yachts have already left (having not been told of the party early enough) but those still here all attend the special evening. Again we feel unworthy of the generosity. All we did was sail here and we have received so much hospitality – like we're famous or something! We watch more traditional dances and are invited to participate. Dancing soon becomes the theme of the evening as we are invited repeatedly to perform. Rene and I win a competition of their traditional dance against the other yachties (I reckon it's cause we've had so much practice!). Our prize is small wooden carvings on key rings. We're also given other gifts. The yachtie women all receive tall wooden carvings (mine is of a farming woman proferring an offering) and the men all receive colourful scarves. More dancing and singing continues into the night. As it wraps up, the other yachties all quickly slip away after a few photos. Somehow we end up staying for what seems like an eternity for hundreds more photos with everyone. The local navy had arrived just hours before and of course, all want photos with Penny and I. My face hurts from smiling.

We plan to take Fidel on a sail with us to his mother's village (as a thank-you for all the help he gave us) but decide against it when we realise how far away it is. Instead, we invite him for a special pancake breakfast. He tries one last time to help Rene fix his phone for internet access with Mr Faeki but still no success.

Arui village dog
We learn the reason for a large motorbike procession Rene had observed while in town – there is a rabies outbreak in one of the villages on Yamdena. Every dog must be killed within the next two days or the army will do so. Time to leave! We're the second last to depart Saumlaki after labouriously hauling up our 90 metres of chain. 
Plotting course - where to next?

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