Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Things Begin To Get Interesting

After leaving Bau Bau, we quickly returned to our routine of eat, nap, watch the horizon, nap, eat, watch a movie and sleep. It would be two more days of landless vistas before we would make our next landfall. 

The first night and day at sea were uneventful... calm seas, few visits by marine life of any sort, a few birds and fishing boats seen in the distance. We made good time and continued on at a steady 9-10 knot clip. On the third night after Bau Bau, we entered the Banda Sea... one of the roughest stretches of water in all of Indonesia. All night long the boat tossed. Down below, I was being bounced around on my bunk. As I don't really like to sleep in air conditioning I had been sleeping every night with the porthole next to my bunk opened for air and enough of a cool breeze to be comfortable. At one point during the night, I was rudely awakened by a face full of sea water coming thru the porthole. Well before dawn, I gave up trying to sleep and climbed up on deck to await the sunrise. Mr. T was already there... he had slept on one of the lounge sofas and was feeling seasick from  the night on the Banda Sea.

We were both glad to be awake as the first light of day began creeping over the horizon. Land! Beautiful land! A mountainous island silhouette was all we could make out in the distance. As daylight increased, we could see that the island we were approaching looked exotic... beautiful!

We now found ourselves in the Moluccas Islands, commonly referred to as The Spice Islands due to their rich crops of cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and other spices. We were somewhere near Ambon. The island ahead of us, I was told by the Captain, was called Bwano or Buano but I have yet to find it on any map. Around this island lay several other smaller islands and several small rock island that jutted up from the sea floor.

As the sun rose in the sky, we could make out a small, primitive looking village on the beach. The rest of the island, at least this side of it, seemed largely uninhabited. The water was crystal clear and we could make out luxurious coral formations in the depths below.

Shortly after sunrise, the crew dropped anchor and again lowered one of the dinghies and made a reconnaissance trip around the bay where we were anchored while we stayed aboard and contended ourselves with photographing the small rock islands and coastline.

It wasn't long before the village on the beach sent their own reconnaissance group, 4 men is a small motored boat began heading our way, pulled up beside us and were welcomed aboard. From them we learned that the last group of foreigners to drop anchor here was over 6 months ago.

This island and it's bay were idyllic... like out of some dream. Lush mountains, jungle, white sandy beaches and very few people from what we could sea. The water surrounding the island was amazingly clear and inviting after 7 days aboard the boat and no chance to swim, dive or otherwise recreate save for the excursion into Bau Bau a few days before.

The men from the boat informed us that we were welcome to visit the village on the beach in the distance. We grabbed our cameras and a knapsack full of brightly colored plastic balls, colored ink markers, pencils and writing tablets we had purchased back in Bali for just such an occasion and hopped into the zodiac once it had returned from it's scouting mission, making our way thru a narrow channel in a very shallow reef, and making landfall on the beach fronting the village.

Here, the people were quite friendly. Their homes were rough, wooden structures built on stilts. There were electric poles and a single service cable running thru a clearing in the jungle behind their homes. We were told that the electricity was produced in another part of the island. We also spotted more than one satellite TV dish. It appeared that the primary economic activity and food source for this village came from fishing. I am guessing there are spice plantations elsewhere on the island creating an entirely different economy. Goats and chickens also wandered freely on the beach and around the homes... another food source.

Shortly after landing, as a crowd had gathered around us, we quickly distributed the balls, markers, pencils and pads to the children and began a tour of the village, followed everywhere we went by a group of children. We found the village mosque, the community well which provided this village with drinking water, a fisherman with fresh catch from whom we purchased a fat red snapper, a captive hornbill, lots of exotic seashells and lots of fruit trees. The three of us split up for a while, following our own individual photographic interests. We remained here in this village for several hours until the outgoing tide threatened to make passage through the reef impossible, preventing our return to the ship until the next high tide.

The Battle For The Balls
The Mosque

A Deadly Sea Snake Hunts in the Shallows of the Lagoon

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