Friday, May 31, 2013

captain's breakfast

Each year when the Sama Sama sails into its channel anchorage, a flutter of excitement rises with the anticipation of our annual breakfast outing. The graceful teak boat is owned by an Austrian couple, and in between charters they slot in a ten day holiday, before the boat heads to the Mentawai for the remainder of the surf season. 

With their Balinese cook they laid on a buffet breakfast that lasted all morning. Two loaves of bread -warm from the oven - fruit platter, toasted muesli, eggs, salami, banana and chocolate cake, a selection of jams and spreads, juice, tea and a bottomless plunger of coffee. Oh how variety can cause one to overeat. Sweet to savoury, back to sweet...another coffee? more bread? 

In between courses we dived off the deck, did laps around the boat, the girls played cards while the boys battled it out in chess. Tom found a spot on the daybed with 360 degree ocean views, and slowly slipped from the position you see above to a more horizontal one. 

Thank you Susannah and Gerfried for generously sharing your supplies and space. Your visit is always a highlight of the year. Until next time, may the wind fill your sails. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

renovation stage 1

When we began building our house in 2005, the situation was very different to today. Materials were hard to get, skilled builders were rare, we were on a minuscule budget, and our land was held under a handshake lease.  Tom claims he wanted no more than a thatched squatter's hut, whereas I was hoping for something a little more, shall I say, concrete. Nothing fancy like running water or electricity. Just a roof high enough to stand under, a clean floor, and a wall to hide behind when washing out of a bucket.

Today we "own" our land (as far as possible in Indonesia) and feel safer to invest a little more, knowing we won't have to walk away in ten years.  The old toilet has already gone and been replaced by the glorious flushing number, and we have big visions for a full reno of the kitchen/living. 

Stage one began last month. A local friend was knocking it down for free, in return for keeping the bricks and rubble to build a new bathroom at his house (recycling at its best). The work was a bit tough and he only lasted two days. Tom borrowed an angle grinder and made two cuts to isolate the walls, then found a willing worker down the beach, who for an exorbitant price bashed away for the afternoon and brought the lot tumbling down. 

We are now left with a bomb site out the back; so close that we can't get the door fully open. The salvage process is underway, with a pile of bricks relocated at the front gate.  Given the island pace, we have agreed to give our friend fuel money to "borrow" his brother's car, and collect the rubble in one busy bee afternoon.  Hopefully some time before Christmas.

first wall down, one to go

weather & mozzies, all the important stuff

The wet season was late to start last year, and so is lingering on well beyond its usual pattern. The weather we are getting now is what we were expecting in November, when it was still offshore, dry and dusty. Today is delightfully cool, down to 25 degrees this morning with steady rain. A welcome relief from the suffocating heat and humidity between the showers. 

Anyone who says that only meteorologists should write about the weather obviously hasn't lived in a house without walls, where every change in temperature is noted on the skin, every rustling palm frond and rain drop audible. We do not have glass or doors buffering us from the elements, and being aware of wind, tide and moon cycles is a critical aspect of the surfer's path.  Combine this with a look at the 4-day forecast chart and Buoyweather  and we can predict the future.

Aquaman has been out of action for a week with dengue fever. Taking into account incubation time, we suspect he caught it in Bali on the way over, as it is rife there and relatively rare here - we get the pleasure of malaria instead. Once the threat of cerebral malaria was cleared with his second negative test result, he was left to sweat and sleep the fever off, as there is no treatment other than comforting the symptoms. With 48 hours of sleep and three days of light duties, where I feared his hummingbird totem had been hijacked by a sloth, he is back in action and ready to take on the next swell. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

one month down

The humidity today is horrid. Old Testament clouds are building, tempting us with the hope of rain and a relief from the last tendrils of the wet season.  The cold front that swept over the southern half of WA last week pushed up a macking swell, with three days of waves at least triple overhead. Unfortunately for Aquaman, he was suffering a severe bout of the flu and missed the best part of it in bed. Being the water wife that I am, I kept one eye on the patient and the other on the waves, with timely gasps as mountains of white wash crashed down beyond the reef.  

At one stage we made a dash to the clinic for a malaria "rapid test" to be sure it wasn't another case of cerebral nightmare.  They took a second blood sample to check under the microscope that night - when the power came on. With Tom still sleeping and sweating, I called the nurse at home and was relieved to get the all clear. Meanwhile, I spent the weekend hunting for driftwood, drinking tea and gazing at rainbows. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

RIP Sumba

Many of you have been asking after our dear little fella, Sumba. I am very sad to say that he died two weeks before we returned. He was going along great, living with his adopted family, sleeping with the oldest son in his dirt floor bedroom, and foraging with the other free range animals. Then he contracted some kind of goat flu, and rapidly deteriorated with diarrhoea. An Aussie friend found him back at our house, leaning against the wall, very weak and battling to stand, so he made the decision to put him down. It would have been terrible to see him suffering. Returning back to the house that he filled with such delight was sad, and I miss his funny antics, even if he was getting a bit destructive and rough as he grew into a teenager. 

I'm sorry we had to leave you little mate. Better to have had eight months of loving life than none at all. 
Forever bleating in our hearts.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

back on island time

Welcome to the barefoot season. We are home in the tropics after four months interlude in WA. The wet season has waned, leaving a tinge of green grass and humid conditions. The trade winds are on cue, grooming the swell in Aquaman's office. We are in residence until Christmas; so get you bikini, boardies and quiver ready for the long dry season.  

If you have been following us for a while, you'll know that each year the arrival is a shock. Eyes that have grown accustomed to Australian standards over the summer are assaulted by exposed wiring, busted fences, rubbish and decay (in contrast, when returning to Australia everything looks so neat and correct as to seem stale).  Our cleaner had knocked the top off four months of gecko shit, coconut matter and rampant vines blocking the back door, but we still had to spend two full days with rags, mops and secateurs to regain a respectable level of dignity. The pump was seized, leaving us without water for the first 30 hours (and the locals had drained the tank long ago). I couldn't even flush my beloved new toilet.  White ants had a nibble on the bathroom steps, and a light bulb went missing, but otherwise the camp is sound. The house was void of fresh food, and with market day still five days away, we dipped into our precious imported oats and dates for a porridge dinner.  Word of our arrival spread quickly through the village and by next morning bananas and pumpkin had appeared from a friends garden. 

The internet connection is painfully slow this year, and even google home page can take ten minutes to load, if at all. It is infuriating, and many days my attempts at blogging are derailed by dial-up. In between times I have started posting photos on Instagram @sallymaymills (which also appear on my FB page) and send the odd tweet @sallymaymills

The swell is picking up for the first big waves of the season, I still have the lagoon swimming pool to myself, and we have slipped quickly back into a state of voluntary simplicity that we relish. I look forward to sharing words and pictures from our island home.  Thanks for being here.  

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