July 29 – the sound of patience in Saumlaki

Putt putt putt, tuka tuka tuka, the muezzin (official calling Muslims to prayer) blaring 5 times a day, and the tap tap tap of rain on the cabin.  We’re waiting for Customs and Immigration to complete the clearing in process.  One of the boats has been hit by the police boat, damaging a window.  Finally Customs arrives about 3pm.  They make a quick search of the boat taking photos of the bilge and engine room and they’re off to the next boat.  They have their own launch.  We’re told Immigration might be tomorrow or the next day.  Then we’re told 24 boats will be arriving in two days from the other Indonesian Rally.  It continues to rain off and on and it’s still breezy.

Next day, July 30, we dinghy into town and tie up by the steep rickety stairs at the big hotel.  Time to get wifi (we hope) and coconut milk and perhaps some veges.  The open air market at the harbour had cheerful vendors wanting their photos taken.  We saw plenty of giggling kids, met George who is our contact person here in Saumlaki, and met some of the other cruisers also killing time waiting for Immigration.  We all migrated back to the hotel for an inexpensive and delicious lunch.

On July 31 we heard on the radio there’s a welcome reception at 9am so scrambled to get in on time.  Local school kids in traditional dress entertained us, then we were given snacks and told we had to re-anchor.  So back at the boat we moved further into the harbour to 07-58.662S, 131-17.413E in 63 feet.  Got another last minute message to come ashore at 4pm for Immigration.  Progress.

August 1 we got a police-escorted tour to the stone village, I think the name was Partai Patriot, where a boat shape was built out of local stone.  Not sure of the significance or history but it’s The major site here.  It was fun wandering through the village and having the kids beg to have their photos taken.  Then we were driven to a church with a nice view of the bay and another religious site with another boat monument where we had a box lunch of traditional food.  Still waiting for Quarantine.  Hmmm also wondering about our check-out papers.

August 2 I ventured into the morning market with a couple other women cruisers to buy veges and try my hand at negotiating prices.  We drew a crowd of curious locals and managed to buy a few things.  Hand signals and paper and pen worked wonders for nailing down the prices.  Several minivans drove us to our goodbye dinner where we sat through several long speeches (in Indonesian) and then we were entertained by local talent – a doctor who sang after giving a rather long speech, then the Police Chief sang a love song duet and a local heart throb dressed in white with Bieber-like hair crooned for us while we balanced dinner plates on our laps.  The buffet was delicious.  Finally the chairs were pushed aside and we were encouraged to get out and dance so a conga line was formed and everyone joined in.  We were back on the boat by 9pm with a hard rain pounding outside.  We got our exit papers but never got our Quarantine papers.  We plan to leave tomorrow morning at first light.



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