Saturday, May 26, 2012

banana rustling

Our neighbours, Colin & Linda, 300 metres southward, aren't arriving till August, however their banana tree got the dates wrong and bore fruit three months early. Their housemaid generously offered the bunch to us, being we are the number one banana consumers in the village, and Aquaman carried it home where we waited impatiently for five days until they ripened.  Green smoothie with banana, papaya and banana, banana with dates, banana on a plate, banana in a bowl, and best of all, banana eaten as nature intended, in the hand, straight out of its own biodegradable packaging.  

backyard garden diaries

Last year we arrived to a wilderness garden in the back yard and I spend the first month hacking away vines before I could access the keyhole beds. This season we arrived to a bare yard save for the hardy lemongrass.  This was not so much thanks to our appointed "gardener", but to her inability to patch up the fence or organise anyone to do so. The goats had a fat time chewing anything fleshy and green, providing us with bare sand,  perfect for site works for the new toilet and tank stand.  

We dismantled the smaller keyhole bed and added the rocks to the larger one with concrete reinforcement.  The extra depth on top of the orange plastic tarp guards against the invasion of coconut roots, and provides a deep bed of soil on top of the gutless beach sand. I dug in aged horse manure and planted basil, cherry tomatoes, silverbeet, beetroot and giant sunflowers. In shaded pots I have parsley, rocket, perpetual spinach and green oak leaf lettuce.  Coconut fronds give dappled light to the keyhole garden - this isn't a mild summer in England - however there is no way of protecting the seedlings from hermit crabs.  I went to bed last night excited by the emergence of seven sunflower sprouts, and awoke to only three. 

I am inspired by this excellent guide to tropical permaculture from a lady growing a wide range of fruit and veggies in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.  If she can do it, so can I...but does she have crabs?

the barefoot season

Never fear, I haven't been held hostage in the City of Dreams. The flight left as per schedule and there were hand shakes all round as I was reunited with my waiting room friends from the previous morning.  It is a no-service flight, not even time for a sip of water or an unidentified food object, before we spanned the Straits of Death and landed at the recently extended runway; I'm very grateful for that, or we would have cleaned up a few fences, goats and lontar on our way in.  In place of the usual baggage carousel is a ute, which is loaded up on the tarmac and driven around to the front of the terminal shed, where you help yourself.

I was flooded with anticipation as we approached home, noting landmarks, checking off changes in the familiar landscape - a new fence, a fallen tree, an abandoned house. Sending Tom ahead to unveil the beach shack and begin damage control from the wet season's fury was well managed, and I arrived to a frangipani on the pillow and organic fruit for dinner. 

Leading up to our departure from Australia with the crescendo of activity, lists and packing that marks the change over, I imagined myself laid out on the daybed with a cuppa, the crosshatch of our coconut roof holding my gaze between waves and paragraphs. It didn't take long. I'm home. 

Welcome to the barefoot season. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

the city of dreams

I'll be honest, Kupang is one of my least favourite destinations, and certainly one I aim to pass through with haste. It is the sandpaper for patience and tolerance that bookends my simple island existence. As if knowing how eager I am to get home to our beach shack and the arms of Aquaman, the universe has conspired to grant me 48 hours in the City of Dreams. 

Awoken at 4am by the ululating call to prayer (a rather inconsiderate notion in this predominantly Christian city), I snatched a few minutes sleep before the alarm at 5am.  I had news that the ferry was cancelled due to rough seas, so I took the chance of standby on the 7am flight. I wasn't alone in this mission, and by 8am, 31 names were on the list, and we had amassed quite the party in the small airline office. Ideas of chartering an oversized canoe, twin prop plane or helicopter were bandied around as we waited for news of a possible second flight (after it was established by all how unfortunate I am to not have children).  Four hours later my heart sank with the news there would be no flight, canoe or magic carpet and I returned to room 303.  The Sasando International Hotel was once a luxurious abode in this city of overpriced, worn and totally shit accommodation (and is still one of the better options). The citizens do not embrace maintenance, and the scene evokes a war weary city, with the only redeeming quality being the nightly food market.

I took the risk of death by chlorination and snot in the hotel pool, and was relieved my bather clad self did not elicit whistles, screams and photos, as happens when I walk alone through town. It was quite pleasant sunning on the broken pavers with a magazine, however I baulked from a second swim after witnessing the amount of deep throat mucus exhumed into the water.

To end on a more positive vibe, the hotel has free wi-fi, expansive ocean views and the staff kindly allow me to sit in the deserted dining room with my papaya and laptop. Should I be overcome with a need to fold in prayer (or despair?) toward Mecca, they have thoughtfully spray painted the directional arrow on the ceiling of my room. 

One more sleep and season 2012 begins. 
Are you ready?

If you are hankering for more photos of this captivating capital, have a look at this post from last year. 
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