Day 103, Year 3: International “Incidents” on the Beach
Date: Hari Rabu (Wednesday), Bulan Agustus 20, Pada Tahan 2008
Weather: More Flores Sunshine
Location: Sea World Anchorage, Flores Island, Nusa Tengarra Province, Indonesia

The Maumere Welcome Ceremony was held on the beach this afternoon and evening and it was an interesting affair. First we had the usual welcome by local officials presenting ikat woven scarves to one person from each country represented in the rally. I happened to be the US representative this time and I will always wear by scarf proudly. We then followed traditional dancers to the stage and seating area. The dancers were a group of women from the Watulapi Womens’s Ikat Co-operative called Bliran
Sina. The lead dancer was wonderful. We had watched her earlier in the day weaving and it was so special to then watch her twirling, yipping, and trilling while smiling widely and proudly showing her betel nut red teeth. All of the traditional villagers we have met in Indonesia chew betel nut and have red lips and teeth. All is well until they smile, and then you see the destruction caused by this habit. But back to the ceremony, we were led back to our seats and then listening to the local
politician speeches in Indonesian. We were entertained with local dancing and then dinner. We were sitting in our seats eating dinner when I heard loud voices behind us. I heard a man say, “You don’t slap my child.” And then I heard him say that again a little louder. And after the third time, there were two male cruisers in a fist fight struggling on the ground right beside me. I really couldn’t believe it. But one thing Indonesia has is plenty of military and police presence and they were
on the job right away. Mark and I were totally in shock that something like this would happen all because a two year-old made it rain sand. Keshi is a boat from Australia with an older Australian man, his younger Japanese wife, and their two-year old son. He is so cute, but a bit precocious. He had just been on the stage singing “Twinkle Twinkle” and the “ABC Song” for everyone. When he came back to the seating area, he was filling the plastic water containers we are given at all these events
with sand and then spilling it out to make it rain. He sprinkled some sand on my feet, but I didn’t see this as a problem. Evidently a woman from France sitting behind me found it to be a problem and she took it upon herself to discipline the child. I don’t know if she really slapped him, but the father evidently thought so and that’s what caused our little international incident. The locals and a few cruiser got things under control, but I cannot imagine what the local people thought of this.
It was quite embarrassing. But the young people on the stage dealt with things quite nicely. They had been singing for us while we were eating dinner and they then invited us to come up and sing. Aki of the boat Liberty from Japan rose to the occasion and sang “Amazing Grace.” He has always seemed such a shy man, but I learned tonight that he plays the mandolin and is quite a performer. While he was singing, Loretta of CanKata of Canada came up and joined him. She has a beautiful voice and
it really helped to clear the air after the scuffle. We all then joined them in singing “You Are My Sunshine.” The young woman who was officiating all of this then invited the two young men who had been singing earlier back on stage and they sang American contemporary pop music. This is very different from anything we have seen anywhere else in Indonesia. We ended our evening by walking back down the beach to the Sail Indonesia cafĂ© and having a beer with Tina and Robert of Shirena.

Indonesia is living up to its reputation as a “different field, different grasshopper.” Each place we go is entirely different from the last place. Even the weaving changes. And there are no rules of the road here. Some people were quite upset that we were asked to check in with local official here and pay a $5US fee. It is true that the local officials seem to conjure up some way of making us go through more paperwork and pay a little more money at every port, but we don’t find that as offensive
as others. A few boats left today rather than pay the fee. It is a beautiful country, but a lot of yachties are tiring of the constant debate over what paperwork we should have to file in a port and how much, if anything, we should pay. It is difficult to play the game when the rules change as you go. So far, nothing outrageous has been asked of us. So we just hope things stay that way. We are truly enjoying the beauty of the people and the land here.

There were no international incidents on Windbird today, but there was an incident. Last night we had a diesel spill on our deck. When we got home we started the engine to charge the batteries. Mark had left on the pump that transfers fuel from one of our tanks to another and one of the tanks overflowed. The overflow goes onto the deck and this time it also dripped down into a locker just behind our navigation station. This locker houses the heater/air conditioner that we can only use when in
a port with US electrical outlets, and I use it to store flour. We tried various methods of cleaning up the spill and getting rid of the diesel smell, but unfortunately the diesel soaked through the plywood board holding the heat exchanger and the smell is going to be with us for a bit. So I guess today was just a day of incidents. Let’s hope tomorrow is incident free as we leave here and head further west across the top of Flores Island.

080820 Day 103a Flores, Indonesia–Ikat Weaving Demo
080820 Day 103b Flores, Indonesia–Maumere Welcome Ceremony