We arrived a few days ago but customs didn't make it out to our boat the afternoon we arrived so we stealthily went ashore to the opening activities anyhow. It was fun to see all the dancing and activities but it was far to loud for MM tiny little ears especially because of all the feedback the PA system was having so we called it an early night. The following morning customs came out to our boat. I had made five copies of an assortment of papers that they may need and it was a good thing because all three officials wanted a copy of everything. I thought we were good until they told us we needed to head into land to see immigration. I then knew I would need to make a few more. All the officials onboard wanted a picture with MM so we let them (don't want to piss off customs that's for sure).
I asked the fleet what I would need for immigration so that I could be ready and was told that I would need 10-12 copies of somethings so I spent the next hour+ printing stuff out (ironically I broke the printer I posted about last week and had to pull out the spare). I did need five copies of one thing when we got in but most stuff I only needed one or two of so it was an hour seriously waisted. Oh well.
All the officials from different departments had come from their offices all over the city to check us in at a single location which was nice. We took a number and got in line. We had to work our way around a very small room with a lot of people, paper, and stamps. We received a couple of large booklets and packets of paper that we need to keep until we check out. Far more than we have ever received anywhere else. They also love official stamps. One of the officials had at least ten stamps just for herself. And they love if you have a stamp yourself. Mark and I have discussed many times getting a boat stamp made but never had. Hearing that this might be the case I grabbed a stamp out of my scrapbooking supplies and went with it. They loved it. And yes, all these officials wanted pictures with my baby too!
On our crossing we lost a nut off an important bolt so we knew that had to be a priority. We set out on hunt to find some sort of a hardware store. We found a small shop and asked if anyone spoke English. They all gave us the hold on signal and went to the back. Out came a young girl who we explained what we needed to. She said they didn't have it but they knew the name of the place that did. She started to explain how to get there on a bus but wasn't really sure. Then the owner of the shop said something and the girl said. We will take you. Mark and I looked at each other and though okay let's go. They moved the front counters of the shop aside and pulled the car out (this is one of the few cars we have seen. Most people ride on motorbikes). We all hoped in including the girl who we learned was the shop owners son's English teacher (we now understand why those who speak English really don't speak it well).
They actually didn't know where the shop was but they kept stopping at places to ask for directions/see if they had the nut we needed. We drove around for a good hour or so and got a nice tour of the city. They finally tracked the place down but it didn't open until 5pm (we aren't in OZ anymore where everything closes at 5). So they took us to one more shop and then dropped us back off at the beach to wait until until the shop opened since it was within walking distance. It was really nice of them to help us out!
As we were walking into the beach restaurant our friend John on SeaMist said he was heading out to get a boat stamp made. I quickly jumped on the opportunity to get an official stamp done so we wouldn't have to use my scrapbooking one again. John and I took what was supposed to be a 300m walk but turned out to be about a 2km walk to the stamp shop. We thought we were looking for the name of the shop and as everyone we asked knew the name we thought we were headed toward a pretty substantial shop. Turns out the name we had was the name of the street. As we turned the corner I looked into a rather empty building that had one display case in it and I could tell that it contained a number of stamps. This must be the place.
The shop owner didn't really speak any English but he understood a little. We asked when they would be ready and he said "yesterday." We took that to mean tomorrow and wrote down what we wanted out stamps to say. He understood 'big' and 'little' which was really all we needed him to understand. We left not really knowing what we were going to get but figured for $5 (we probably could have bargained that down) it really didn't matter that much. I had looked at getting a stamp in AU and it would have been at least $60.
The following day Mark and I took a walk around the city through all the markets and even found ourselves wandering through some of the homes (if you can really call them that). We couldn't go ten feet without someone wanting to come up to MM and touch him. It's really kind of an issue. Everyone wants to touch him and hold him. I try to be good about the situation but it's a little hard to have complete strangers constantly walking up to you and wanting to touch your kid. Especially when they aren't clean. On one hand I hate to be closed minded but on the other I really don't want MM to get sick and you really don't know what some of these people are carrying around. Most of the children have runny noses and I just don't want it passed on to MM.
The Ergo is great because MM is strapped to me so people can't try to hold him, which they do if he is not. We love letting the other cruisers play with him but have realized that we need to be careful with this too. Some of them will pass him off to an Indonesian without a thought and all it will take is one second of Mark and I not paying attention for our beautiful boy to go missing. So there are now a few people who are on the no list when it comes to playing with MM. It's a little sad but my babies safety is my number one priority and if you will hand my kid over to a stranger then you can't hold my kid.
MM had been photographed on more phones than I can count. When we walk down the street people literally take out their phones and take photos of him. It's a little weird but I can't really stop it so I'm learning to live with it. Photos from afar are fine just don't get to close.
We enjoyed another night of entertainment and even got to do some dancing ourselves.
The next day I woke up not feeling so hot so we stayed on the boat and went in just a few hours to get another piece of paper that customs forgot to give us and one more nut (since it's always good to have a spare). I thought that my sore throat was from all the smoke in the air. Everyone smokes here, I try to keep MM away from it as much as possible but it just isn't possible - breaks my heart that! But yesterday it was clear that it was more than just a sore throat and I spent the entire day in bed. I guess it's better me than MM. This however proves my point that all these people coming up to us all the time is not a good thing!
Today we will try to start our move toward Alor. The festivities begin in three days and we don't want to miss a minute.