Tuesday, December 14, 2010

the final morning

Our last night of packing was done with torchlight; the power off again due to inclement weather.  Our food supply was down to a few mangoes, so Gerry kindly invited us next door for some rice and vegies by the cold blue glow of a halogen solar light.  We had to wave our arms around every few minutes to reactivate the sensor.

Through a blur of tears I stare at the ocean, hoping to imprint an image on my retina that I can access whenever I close my eyes.  I don’t want to leave our simple shack that has become a home; the lagoon that rises and recedes like a visiting friend; the community that all know my name and forgive me for not remembering theirs; the sneezing goats, the digging pigs and the chooks.  A life where I see the phases of the moon and the pincushions of star light in a black sky, where we sleep with open walls and fresh air, and awake to gentle sounds of nature and daily village life.  I am apprehensive about returning to a society that thrives on busyness, competition and comparison. To fluorescent lights, pollution and excessive visual stimulation. However, I will not miss stinky gecko shit, cockroaches, mosquitoes or dust. 

Packing the house could be cranked out in a few hours, but it seems to be drawn out over days by the thought of what needs to be done. Normally on the final morning there is a rush to close the main pod up with tin sheets and tarps, but this year we are leaving it open so the living room floor can be sanded to remove the gloss varnish.  Next season we will be able to get away with less frequent cleaning – the dust will still be there, we just won’t be able to see it.

Before I sign off from Remote and Raw for this season, I will be sharing some photos from the archives and stories of village life that I didn't get time to post during the year.  I will also be upping the action over at Treacle for Stickybeaks and Crema and Crumbs.  We will be back sometime around March or April for another long stint in our tropical home.  Thanks for sharing our surf and raw food life in the backblocks of Indonesia. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

final market run

The last market run for the year, and with only a couple of days left before we depart it was more of a social visit.  Tom had a leave pass to go surfing as the total load amounted to two bunches of bananas, 15 mangoes, one bunch of carrots, a few tomatoes and some sesame seed slice for morning tea.  Somehow managed to bypass the cold donuts sandwiched together with margarine and sprinkles.

The sun is harsh this time of year, even at 7.00am, and the vendors with one or two items are pushed to the hot spots along the road.  These ladies would be hoping no one buys their baskets until the shade moves over. 

This is our resident water diviner.  I have never seen him without his steel rod.  It doubles as a thin walking stick and I am sure he sleeps with it to be more in tune with the power of the universe. 

Linda has her load for the week, carried in a hand-me-down Coles bag.
I had to stop at the shop to buy some glue for Tom and was overcome by the new arrival of gates.  Where these will end up is a mystery, I can't imagine them flanked by a dry stone wall as the entry statement to a grass hut. They are absolutely hideous and epitomise the gaudy style of the city.  Which design magazine did they get their inspiration from? 

The "super goats" aren't too phased by things.  Seen here rocking out in their favourite spot; the gravestones next to the town oval.  It is grandstand seating to watch the market day traffic.  They are responsible for a new breed of half caste goat in the village, as the super billy goes around knocking-up the petite native nannies.  Run for your lives girls. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

heir to the throne

Greg is the manager and part owner of the resort, and he married a lovely girl from the mainland, whom he wooed over a season of ferry rides.  Anita was the hostess in the VIP section, and a splendid sight in her smart uniform checking tickets and handing out unidentified food objects.

Their little fella RJ Rogers (Rock to his fans) is seriously adorable.  He loves his pool time, is discovering his facial muscles and has the entire hotel staff and expat community wrapped around his tiny fingers.  He has a sweet life lined up as the first wave of "blended" kids in the village, with one foot in the west and one firmly running bare under the coconuts. 

How's the look on his face here?  This photo is scarily like a family portrait  I repeat, this is not my child. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

the tom & gerry show

Shoulder to head high.  Clean. Classic. Crowd of two.  It's the Tom and Gerry show. Tom's riding the toothpick with go-fast red boardies.

What session would be complete without a stray surf dog?  Complete with a collar made from an old leg rope.

a tough life

It is a tough trees that can cling onto life in the harsh conditions of the fore-dune.  Pandanas and scrubby numbers with waxy leaves are the kings of this ecosystem. Growing crooked like a stooped old lady buffeted by the prevailing wind.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

it beginning to look nothing like christmas

Public art?  Christmas decorations?  Ingenious use for a tarp?  All of the above?  There is nothing vaguely Christmassy in the village.  The church has tinsel hanging in it all year, and the shop has a Merry Christmas banner over the door from one December to the next.  Nobody has a tree or decorations in their house, and there are no hampers or baubles for sale in the shop.  I'm trying to get in the mood by singing carols while reading other blogs where people are frantically making festive wreaths and bon-bons.  Deck the halls with fronds of coconut, fa, la, la, la, la

opa the net maker

Opa (Grandad) Hanus is our villages most skilled net maker and fixer. He strings the nets between coconut palms and works for hours with intent focus.  He is 77 years old and still has acute eye sight and a spring in his step.  He is however missing most of his teeth due to a life of chewing betel nut, so is rather hard to understand. I once asked him what he thinks about while he is weaving.  He replied, "nothing."  I can just about believe it.

Friday, December 3, 2010


You may have just choked on your morning cuppa when you logged on to see what antics we have been up to and the blog looks different.  I thought after two years and over 200 posts it was time for a makeover, plus the template I was using has been superseeded and is no longer available.  There is likely to be a couple of costume changes before I decide on an outfit for the next leg of the journey.  I am a woman afterall.  

Expect bigger pictures, maybe a new mast head image and the usual banter about a living off bananas and the direction of the wind in the backblocks of Indonesia

Thanks again for reading. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

more expense

We've only had a motorbike for five days, and already it has cost us a new fuel filter, oil change and two tanks of petrol, because the first one leaked out.  The trusty old pushbike has only demanded one new pedal and the odd bit of free air in the tire.  Still, cheap bike rent for a week, and provides us with wind in our hair.  My push bike riding is never that swift.

Bought two litres of oil from the shop for $2 then paid $1.20 for the oil change at the newly opened motorbike garage. They love getting greasy and grovelling around on the ground.

Oscar fueled us up with his dipper.  He works almost 100 hours per week for A$20. Less than $3 per day.  Our tank of fuel was over two days wage.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


The air is still and heavy, and the lagoon is warmer than body temperature. About as refreshing as swimming in seaweed soup. Promising banks of black cloud build up, then dissipate without delivering a drop.  It's troppo time.

See some more photos of the changing light on the lagoon here

shoulder season

Each year our time here extends a little, pushing into the shoulder seasons of March and November, with the hope of an uncrowded surf and the option of a right hander.  The swell is small at the moment, but Aquaman is still getting a few fun waves with a couple of the old blokes.

on your bike : petrol power

As expats have settled in to the area, the collection of motorbikes has expanded, and come the off season when the winds are onshore, the board racks are loaded for surf missions further afield.  A friend has lent us his brother's motorbike for the week, and while it sounds like a lawn mower and feels like sitting on an old washing machine, it handles the bumps better than the scooters and is free.

Monday, November 29, 2010

on your bike : pedal power

Our preferred mode of transport, and for those locals who haven't been lured by the hum of a two-stroke.

project benchtop

There is a time in every season when we seem to take a step backwards; back to before we had running water and a kitchen.  Some part of our house is always under renovation or remodelling, and this week it is the turn of the kitchen benches.  The sink is again a bowl on the ground, in the outdoor shower, which is handy in this heat as I can do the dishes under a waterfall.

We originally added a plywood top, which was unsuccessfully sealed with resin, then covered over with another thin layer of ply. Finally the concrete bench tops are at the top of the list.  I insisted that my handy husband "practice" in the bathroom, then his office desk before attacking the kitchen.  He does like to experiment, and this way there are two opportunites for success or failure.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

land's edge

It takes a decent sunset to impress a Sandgroper, spoiled are we with a life of the golden orb dipping below the ocean horizon.  I thought this one was worthy of a snap.  Off to a going away party now, sure to be dead animal and Bintang beer on offer, so I'm taking a salad.  The expats are all departing to their off season homes, only eight of us left, with me the only female.  Four of the remaining blokes are hooked up with local girls so have a more of a reason to hang around during the wet.

early morning wander

With only two weeks left in our island home, my senses begin to hone in on my surroundings, the sights and sounds that are the everyday, but such a contrast from our life in Australia.  Put your sneakers on and join me for a walk before the sun gets too hot and the humidity heavy.

Inland from the village, the soil is red and loamy, perfect for crops of maize and soya beans.  While the beach is home to the coconut, di atas is the domain of the lontar palm.

Almost every house has a collection of pot plants, dutifully arranged in rows or clumps on the verandah.  The gardening bug is a recent phenomenon and it is has brought more colour and greenery to the village. Neighbours share cuttings and divide clumps of succulents, and so the displays expand from house to house.

Moose's sister was the first local girl to marry a westerner; and Aussie surfer she met working at a home-stay. They have since divorced, but she still lives in Brisbane with her son and new partner.  The family don't see her very often, and have never been to Australia to visit.

Away from the one main road that bisects the village, there are still a number of very basic shacks; no more than humpies of tin, sticks and rock, with dirt floors, no toilets, water or electricity.

Pigs and goats are never far away.  The piglets are so lovely, and trot along squeaking like big mice.

School starts at 7.00am, so from 6.00am kids begin to walk in from all over the district, filling the back tracks with laughter and chatter.  Always full of cheek when a bule comes along, especially one with a camera.  The kids are responsible for cleaning the yard, and bring home-made brooms to sweep up the dust.  I can't imagine Australian kids ever starting their day like this.

The lontar tapping season is coming to an end, but pots of fresh tuak can still be seen boiling in backyards.  It is amazing that a simple green leaf can stop the pot from boiling over.

Almost home.  Back on the white sand track beneath the coconuts, past the simple hut on the corner where freshly washed ikat cloth has been hung out to dry.

Boats are pulled up to dry dock for the wet season.  The onshore wind is incessant and cyclone season is near.

Home.  Time for a green smoothie and a spot of blogging.  Have a great day.
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