Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Alor Indonesia

After spending a day sick in bed in Kupang (which apparently many people did) we set off for Alor. We had heard that the currents to get there could be difficult. Many of the cruisers decided to skip the stop because of this. Mark and I however were determined we weren't going to skip the stop and we were glad we didn't.

We cleaned up the boat in Kupang and planned to leave the next day but after realizing we were ready to go decided to set out in the afternoon instead. This ended up being a really good plan. A lot of others left in the morning and anchored over night getting up extremely early and then ended up fighting a ton of current. We opted for an overnight (I personally don't understand anchoring just to get up so early and sailing out into the dark - why not just overnight?). We had a few knots against us and had to run the engines the whole way but it wasn't the 5 or 6 knots we had heard about. We even had a knot with us at the very end where most people not only experience the 6 knots but some even went backwards. We got there in 24 hours which was much faster than many boats. Sometimes our lack of planning is to our advantage. Actually, and I don't want to jinx myself but, this has happened a few times to us. Many of our friends plan and plan and read charts and graphs and wait for perfect weather and we just go. We end up having a decent passage and they get thrashed. Not that I'm against planning, you need to have at least a little idea of the weather and wind, but the charts and graphs don't always give you the whole story and on a long passage stuff changes.

It was good that we didn't wait the additional day because we would have missed the opening activities. We didn't know that they would be starting bright and early the day after we arrived. We dropped the dinghy in the water, glad to get off the boat after a few days (remember we didn't leave the boat while I was sick), and headed to land. I wish I had taken a picture of the dinghy dock they built us. It was totally unstable and a little scary to walk on with MM but they built it for us. So nice not to have to beach the dinghy like in Kupang. We also like that we paid one dinghy fee for the whole time not each day (Kupang was expensive in that regard). Mark and I got the list of activities and then took a little walk around the town.

The following morning we headed in for the opening activities which included some dancing for us and by us. Yep, we got in on the action too. We enjoyed the show before heading out with our friends on Destiny and Renegade in search of a dive shop. We initially didn't know where to go so we tried communicating with a taxi driver. He motioned to get in but after a few minutes we realized we were definitely going the wrong direction and tried explaining it to him again. He turned around and headed back to where we thought we should be going. We arrived at a house with a diving sign outside. When we went to the door however we learned that the owner had moved. Luckily there was a website on the sign so Mark quickly looked it up and got a number. The current resident also found it for us in a magazine.

The dive master drove over and talked to the group and a dive was arranged for two days later. After driving us back toward the wharf we decided to stop and check out the market. Once again MM was a little to popular for my taste. We made a fairly quick loop through and headed a few doors down where we found some lunch. Traditional Indonesian for some and Mangum Ice Cream for the rest (yep, Mark and I were in the Ice Cream group).

That night we went to the governors residence for dinner. Mark and I were late but it really didn't matter because we sat around for about an hour before anything happened. This was the first chance we had to use MM little tent that I bought him. Can I saw awesome to have and perfect for this occasion. We feel asleep and rather than have to hold him for a few hours I was able to lay him down and keep the bugs off him (we have been very lucky and seen very few bugs - thank goodness!) We saw some dancing and a few of the other sailors got dressed up in the traditional attire for the event by the host.

The following day we took a tour that first stopped at a small museum with some artifacts and weavings and then to a traditional village. The villagers performed some hunting dances and then some of the other traditional dances. We got to see the huts that they live in. It is amazing that they live in thatched huts but still build a fire inside for cooking.

Our last "real" day in Alor (I say real because we spent one more on the boat but didn't go into land) Mark went scuba diving with a few of our friends and I went on the beach "tour." Both had a nice relaxing day. MM played in his little tent (once again great to have) in a little hut by the water and I chatted with some of our friends.

Next stop Lembata. An unplanned overnight, because we didn't get to our anchorage in time, aside we had an okay sail. We had to heave-to and wait for the sun come up to come in but we did at first light and anchored with a bunch of other boats.


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