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Indonesia

Author: Maria Zehentner
Beitrag vom: 28.06.2018

Alam Dita, with nature, that`s Sumbawa!

Sumbawa, June 2018

The ferry connection between Lombok and Sumbawa took two hours. Our aversion to boat cruises is no secret, but I really liked the old, rusty and aged steamer. It is not a secret, that they also liked to kiss the bottom of the sea, which means they are sinking quite often. But you could do what ever you want on these boats, whether staying in the car or being on deck and watching third-rate short films, it does not matter!

Olle, from the Lombok Surf Camp, organized a parking space for us at his Swiss friend, who ran a small resort in the west of the island. The distance from the harbor to Scar Reef, where Thomas lived, was just under 20 kilometers, actually a short drive. But over time, we learned to properly assess the road conditions in Indonesia and knew, that an orange-marked road in the Navi, usually a main road, meant nothing here. It was already dawning. We rumbled downhill, tormented ourselves uphill and squeezed through countless curves on adventurous slopes. The displayed kilometers on the display slowly became less, until we reached a place at a road fork, where we did not know where to go, cause no signs were set.
I jumped out of the truck and asked a local, who came towards me smiling: "Alam Dita?". In flawless English, he described the way and patted my shoulder. Then he swung himself onto a scooter and drove ahead. After a few minutes, Dan stopped in front of a fence where we were already expected. Thomas greeted us curiously and was even more pleased with the almonds Olle had given us as a gift for him. We postponed the narrow entrance to his resort for tomorrow. It had become pitch black now and we were tired.

The sun tickled us early the next morning, at least Leander and me. With a cup of hot coffee we strolled the few meters to the beach and looked around, where we had actually landed, because yesterday we had not noticed much. It was nice here and so quiet and clean! A rarity in Indonesia. Far out, we spotted a few surfers dancing with the waves, and watched the out running surf broke, which fringed with thundering violence on the beach. The falling sunbeams were reflected in the sea, which reflected the light as if hundreds of diamonds were scattered in it.

Our eyes wandered dreamily into the distance, as the "campsite" owner Memeth ripped us from our thoughts with a friendly "pagi", which means in Indonesian “good morning”. He invited us to a glass of Sumbawa coffee whenever we wanted. We received the feeling of being welcomed, which is a nice one.

"Alam Dita" translated "with nature!" Thomas could not have found a better name for his green oasis. Three small bungalows nestled in a wild paradise of blooming flowers, plants and palms, and Akela in the middle of it. The cool sea breeze did not reach us, because the bush was too thick, but that was ok. Anyway, we found ourselves mostly by the sea or by Memeth.

We were not easy to wrap around, very impressed or even speechless, but Sumbawa, or rather West Sumbawa, had something special about it. It was the combination of the locals and nature, which was strange, because lately we were trying to avoid humans, to find some peace.

Sumbawa is used by most tourists as a footboard to get to the Komodo Islands, home to the famous Komodo Warane, or they move on to the nearest island, Flores. Great or well-known sights were searched for in vain on the island. It was more about the small and hidden beauties hidden on the island, which wanted to be discovered. But that was exactly the reason, what made Sumbawa so special for us. Friendly and lovely people, authentic villages, untouched landscapes, lots of nature and beautiful beaches with legendary waves, which were in no way inferior to those on the south coast of Bali.

There was always something to do for us. Either we romped in the water, no matter if it was high tide or low tide, or we hung out at Memeth, where a good conversation was never long in coming. Memeth ran a small campsite where globetrotters felt comfortable and understood. But please forget the stereotype that your brain is playing, when you think of a "campsite". At Memeth`s everyone was always welcomed. We cooked together, ate together, had good conversations and shared experiences with other travelers.

One guy we met, we will always remember, Jimmy a Californian, who had been touring Asia for over 30 years, settling in Scar Reef in a simple bamboo shack with no shower, toilet or power. He lived for surfing and being in the water. He radiated enormous peace and it was a real enrichment to listen to his life stories and experiences, that could have filled not only whole evenings but also several books. For Lennox he was simply Uncle Jimmy, he also felt the positive aura surrounding this man and enjoyed the time together.
What was possible elsewhere only through agencies and with overpriced excursions, was almost self-evident in Sumbawa. Because people come together by talking, as the saying goes. So it happened, that Leander went out by boat together with Dan the helpful native, who showed us the way to Thomas in the middle of the night, where Leander could make his first speer fishing experiences. Lennox and I also went with them on the boat. While the two went speer fishing , we put on the diving masks and snorkeled a bit away from them, because we don`t wanted to get an arrow in the butt. We found an intact reef and marveled the underwater world, it was stunning.

Leander proudly presented us his first fish, which he had speered, which was later grilled over the fire at Memeth`s, combined with other delicacies in the evening. Everything was so obvious here and uncomplicated. Anyone who could contribute did so, who did not, maybe the next time. Everything was shared between all. On Sumbawa, this thought seemed so natural and omnipresent, and it was good to be in the middle of it.
We were never left with the feeling to be annoying tourists, where only and alone the filled wallet counted. We felt like friends and were treated like that. So it was not worth mentioning, that we could borrow from Memeth surfboards whenever we wanted, without paying any money. Sure, they were not up-to-date boards from the brand new Kelly Slater collection.

Nevertheless! Everyone in Bali or Lombok would have opened their hand and asked for a rental fee. When I asked Memeth if he would sell one of them, he agreed immediately, but had no idea about a price, so he told me to give him a price. We did not have to negotiate for a long time and soon we became the proud owner of our own surfboard. Yihaaa! However, the size was tailored more for Lennox than for Leander and me. It is probably such a "parent thing" that you unconsciously act for the benefit of children in many decisions.

I do not want to spend a lot of time writing about it because it was inevitable. The farewell knocked at the door. After a fantastic week in Scar Reef, we pressed everyone to our hearts and climbed into the cab with drooping corners of our mouth. We drove and drove, kilometer by kilometer, but nothing that touched our eyes could be compared to Western Sumava. It seemed like we fell in love with the stretch of coast and could not see therefore the beauty around us. That's why we did the only right thing for us at that moment. At a suitable place Leander turned the truck and we went back, 250km !! What was not a lick of honey on Indonesian roads, but it was worth it.

We knew the way to Thomas´”Alam Dita”, even though it was in the middle of the night. Thomas was not surprised, when we were standing in front of his door again. There was no need to ask us, why we turned around. He knew how we were feeling.

Memeth, too, did not seem to be surprised the next morning, and brought quite naturally a coffee to the beach when he caught us enjoying the sunrise. Getting up early in the morning was also a very special chapter in Scar Reef. I am definitely not a late riser, but 6:00 am was an unusual time for me too. Here we were awakened by the inner clock, which let us jump out of the bed with the first rays of sunshine. Unwashed and unkempt, we walked the few meters to the beach, sat in the warm sand, analyzed the waves and absorbed the peace, at least until Lennox came and asked for breakfast.

The days ran smoothly and passed with motorcycle tours to gigantic beautiful waterfalls, spear fishing, snorkeling, paddling, surfing, slacklining and some lessons with Lennox unfortunately much too fast. We also celebrated Leander's birthday at Scar Reef and it seemed like he had a carte blanche in choosing his locations. Last year on the Pamir Highway in the middle of Tajikistan, his absolute favorite country, and this year on Sumbawa. In the morning he went out for a surf with jimmy, and in the afternoon we surprised him with a home-baked cake and small presents, and for dinner we all enjoyed self caught fish. Happy Birthday my dear, there was nothing to complain about! Between ourselves. Of course we keep our eyes open during the trip and "select" the possibilities for a new home after the trip. We all longed for a fix base. Who knows what would have happened if we could have shaken the money out of our sleeves so easily.

But for the moment, it was only possible to return to this idea at some point. For now we had to master an approaching farewell deja vu. Hugs again, pats on the back and hiding tears, and because everything was stupid anyway, an Indonesian wasp stabbed me in the thumb, which was three times as big as our domestic animals. At first I did not want to believe, that the poison was much more concentrated than the one from our wasps at home in Austria, I was a brave girl and a wasp sting could not blow me away.
However, after a short time I took Thomas` advice seriously and climbed into the back of the truck and rummaged painkillers out of the first-aid kit. I could not stand it anymore. It felt like thousands of needle points were simultaneously trying to pierce my finger. But you also had to recognize the positive about it. I sat half-comatose and absent-minded in the driver's cab and had no opportunity to be saddened by the farewell.

So we reached the northern capital Sumbawa Besar, which was a compelling evil to extend our visa. But it was not that bad. Thanks to Memet's contacts, we had the visa extension within a few hours in the passports, which would have taken normally several days, and in Kencana Beach, a few kilometers outside the city, we found a nice parking space right by the sea with showers and excellent internet Signal, which was urgently needed, since there was no reception in Scar Reef and by now a mountain of work had accumulated. So we decided to stay here for the next few days, to clear the boat, as the saying goes.

Lennox and I explored the area and discovered a coral reef just a few meters from the beach with lionfish, doctor and parrot fish, clown and trumpet fish, while Leander run through countless mails he made a terrible discovery. Good, that we could only retrieve the news here, because in Scar Reef we would have had no more relaxed seconds from receiving this message. What was in the mail? I'll tell you, because from that day on, our plans and moods changed practically every minute!
Many of you know, that we have a cooperation with camping equipment manufacturer Dometic, which is headquartered in Sweden. Since the company was well established in the Australian market, they had planned some projects with us there. Samuel, our contact, had written us an e-mail, pointing out that his Australian colleagues had warned him, that vehicles with asbestos parts in it, were invariably excluded from entry.

At first, I did not understand the context. What did the toxin asbestos have to do with our car? Leander resolved my question marks. Until the 80s, asbestos was used for certain car parts. Akela was built in 1977, it was assumed that 99.9 percent of asbestos was installed in our truck. Only where? With a lot of internet research and long phone calls and

Emails he found out that, for example, brakes, the clutch and some seals were under hot suspects. Were all these parts still original? How the hell could we get all the information we needed now? Was the Australian authority really that strict? Were there any exceptions that we could cheat under?

Everyone who knows Leander knows, that a doesn`t work, does not exist. On contrary, it spurs him to peak performance. His brain rattled for 24 hours, the phone beeped continuously and the laptop had to be kept in the fridge repeatedly to avoid overheating. The only thing I could do most to help him was to keep away Lennox from him, that he could work. That sounds bad now, but it was so, because he needed rest to think. Once, when I came back from the beach with the little one, I heard him screaming from a distance. "These are spinners, they are completely insane, ... they do not know, what this decision means for us as family!” Who is crazy and who was insane? I did not know what he was talking about. "Now they don`t want to take us with them...!" Who takes us no longer with, I didn`t get it.

He opened a WhatsApp message on his cell phone and put it under my nose. I scanned it and sank to the bench. The agency, Sea Bridge Tours, with whom we had planned the crossing to Australia for more than a year, unfortunately without any written confirmation, canceled the deal without giving any reason. They did not respond to phone calls anymore, and they quit the WhatsApp group. What was going on? What had we done to make them react like that? Two islands or five weeks before the planned shipment! Since Vladivostok, we had been working, planning and researching for the shipping accordingly to be in East Timor at the end of July to ship from Dili to Darwin. Our main reason for making this deal was the price occasion! Because in the group the shipment would have cost us only a third of what it would have cost us as a single vehicle.
Through self-research, we knew what prices we had to expect in a single shipping for this route, and we didn`t want and we could not afford this high price. It was never our plan to travel to Australia, our destination was always New Zealand. But with this option in the, we would have been stupid, not going there. Australia was so close now, and we were pretty sure, that we would not come so close anymore.

However, it seemed that all lights had turned to red for the project Australia. First the asbestos message, now the cancellation of the group. Something or someone was trying hard, to stop us setting foot on the red continent. We were trapped! Our alternatives from Indonesia were very limited. Alaska or South America were out of the question, because until we found an agency and included the shipping time, we would have arrived there in the winter. No thanks! We wanted to save Africa to the bitter end, we were not ready for the black continent yet. Of course, we were also able to drive back the entire route or ship the truck right to Germany and do some "holiday" in Europe.
Really now? One year planning razed to the ground by a single message. A dream burst like a bubble! If we did not want to give up, then realistically, we had no choice but to ship to Australia, but not from East Timor. A shipping company has a monopoly in Dili and could juggle with prices as they wanted to. We had to find another ferry route.

I could have resigned myself to a shipment to Germany, which meant the end of our journey. I was fed up! We had worked like crazy in the last few months and paid a high price for it. I was finished with my strength. Where Leander still had the will and the power to continue, no idea! For him, giving up was no alternative. He hated it when a plan did not work, so a new one had to come. Good things take time , and time we had obviously enough, because the ship would leave the port without us, that was clear. Basically, we did not have time, because our Indonesia Visa was designed exactly for the shipping date and will soon expired.

By the way, even more nice mails appeared, and put more salt into the soup, it was still not enough. Our travel health insurance kicked us out of the existing contract with the reason, that Austrians fell by a clause change now unfortunately through the rust. Domestic authorities also meant to make our life more difficult with pointless bureaucracy. But compared to the "bomb reports" these was kid stuff and caused only a tired smile.
With smoking heads we puzzled a plan B over the last few days, if this plan would work, it sounded more attractive than the original one. Now it was time to wait. Waiting for new offers, waiting for answers to questions, waiting, waiting, waiting ... not exactly Leander's strength ;-)

And because all that was still not enough, an emotional problem popped up, that reached its peak in Kencana Beach. At least in Indonesia all three of us really realized, how bad it was about the "health" of our planet. We have seen a lot of "nasty" and "unnecessary" things the last months and years, which caused an inner agglomeration, which we were unable to handle by the moment.
I'm talking about clearing the jungles for western luxury. As a result, the extinction of ancient, traditional tribes and animal species. This includes the flooding of the third world countries by plastic, which goes on the account of the first world. Where does the plastic end up? Mostly in the oceans or in the hinterland where it is burned.

We have become "vegetarians" by now! We are disgusted by the cows, chicken, goats and fish. They are sick because they do not find any longer proper and natural food. They have to look for their food in the garbage, and it is a naive fallacy, that of course we humans are ill because we eat these animals.
Each of us contributes his piece to this grievance, whether you believe it or ignore it. Some still feel innocent, because the rainforest, the third world countries and the oceans are far away. "That`s non of my business!" But it has to said again, each of us!
We have not mutated to environmental activists on our journey. However, we have learned to live much more consciously and sustainably. Everyone has to jump over his inner bastard to make sure, that our grandchildren and great-grandchildren can experience and admire the beauty of this unique planet too. The earth does not belong to us, we are only visitors, we should be aware of that.

Lennox is homeschooled by us. Although we attach great importance to the "basics", such as writing, reading and calculating, we try to avoid the classical school system. Our focus is increasingly on the nature and the places in which we are right now. And at the moment it is all about the ocean. Sea animals, currents, but also how we have to treat the oceans, and what happens, if we treat the oceans badly. Topics, that many do not prepare child-friendly and therefore rather try to avoid them. But in our opinion it is extremely important to start with the little ones, even it is hard reality.
But proper education is an important step to recovery.
I would like to describe briefly a situation, because it fits in well with the topic. We snorkeled all three at the reef of Kencana Beach, until we suddenly recognized, that our kid was gone. Nervously, I looked around and saw him swimming back to the beach, crying.

Panicking, I paddled after him suspecting, that he had been caught by a jellyfish or by a lionfish. He sat in the sand, crying with all his heart and could hardly speak, because he was so upset. As he regained his breath, he told me that, he had realized during snorkeling, that he might not have the opportunity to show his children an intact reef with all the colorful fish, when we humans continue to pollute the oceans.
This thought caused him so much grief and saddened him, because he himself loved the sea, with everything that belonged to it, just like us. It hurt like hell seeing him being so upset. On one hand, we were very proud of our boy, because he understood the connections so well, on the other hand, anger rose in us. Lennox was only six years old and I would have wished, that he could just enjoy carefree snorkeling.

After he had recovered, we had a long conversation. Lennox was of the opinion, that he alone could do nothing to save the oceans. We explaned him, that this was a wrong thinking. We showed to him on the basis of examples, that every single little action causes something big together. It is still not too late to save the planet!

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