A brief rest and we put our dinghy into service. Dropped it down, installed the motor, fuel tank and connected; we’re ready to go…. to explore a bit. We swung by Natsumi and four of us tooled over to the dive resort. They had a dock. We met Nellow (a most valued go between for cruisers and a dive master) and strolled down the frontage road. Mike was really looking for more beer! 🙂 Of course, neither W/ or I would turn one away. We stopped in at the Maulana Hotel. They had beer, so we sat a spell.
We were now a target for individuals feeding off of tourists. No matter how much we try to fit in, there is no way we do. First; we are white! A dead give away in Indonesia, second we talk funny (English), and third we carry a back pack. One of the local tour guides (Mann ph 62 822 3850 8726) joined us. He tried hard to sell us an island tour. He bragged about the things we would see and what we could do. The prices he quoted seemed a bit… funny. If we paid individually it would have been less than if we paid as a group. His English was a wee bit broken and he didn’t understand; all we wanted to do at that moment was have a cold drink and chill out in a beautiful place. We never used him for a tour. Honestly, I understand from those that did he was good. The Maulana Hotel uses him frequently. It is just that first contact put us off.
After Mann we met the owner of the Maulana; Mita. And the experience was the opposite. She was friendly, not pushy. She was welcoming and not selling.. Although we were already buying! 🙂 She spoke excellent English She made our stay in Banda a great experience. We understood the ATM was intermittent here (not always with money) and we were concerned that we could run out of cash. Mita said we could use Wise; transfer funds to her account and use that to pay for drinks and food. Too, she helped us keep our phones by accepting funds and adding the money to our Telkomsel account. She arranged for massages for us and others; we short term rented a vacant room for a small fee. We found it a pleasure to work with someone not pushy and willing to help.
Looking for a working ATM, Mike on Natsumi discovered Cilu Bintang. The other “resort” on Neira that catered to off island guests. He too had tours to the islands. Mike liked him and he wasn’t pushy. Six of us signed up for a tour to the plantations, with lunch following. A few days later we met at Cilu Bintang and began with an overview of what we would do and see. There we met Denny our guide. Off to the boat for a trip to the plantations. We had a brief stop at the only Christian church on the island and found tombs inlaid in the foundation. The boat was a 20 minute ride across the S. channel. The south channel was verboten to anchoring for cruising yachts. Not that we would want to with the winds blowing from every direction.
Denny lead us to the sacred well where women couldn’t drink or get water. The water was said to be excellent. W/ and I didn’t try the water. I not wanting to be struck by lightening due to my lack of faith in any of the 4,000+ religions on Earth. 🙂 W/ couldn’t because; duh, she is female! They gather the Nutmeg when it drops from the tree. The seed removed and dried out.
From there we continued up the hill to the Cinnamon, Nutmeg, and Almond plantations. We passed a cemetery with Muslims and Christians graves. And even still segregated; Christians on one side and Muslims the other. Sad how beliefs follow us into death. The plantation was eye popping. Nutmeg trees 100’s of years old, huge beyond belief. They reminded me of the Redwoods in California. The biggest difference is in the base. Nutmeg trees have a base kids would love to play around. Here however kids work… for their families.
Cinnamon is harvested by gently cutting a strip of bark and drying it. Grinding occurs once dried. The Almonds are a bit different from those in the US. They are softer. Here they dry them and. then grind into flour for cooking. And to finish the tour of the plantations we took a motor scooter ride around the rest of the island visiting several more forts. As fun as that sounds; it wasn’t easy on the tosh!
Lunch was a mix of Indonesian fare. A smorgasbord. Everything was excellent and there was plenty of food. We met a couple from Ambon and had them out to the boat for a tour a few days later. Actually, she was Indonesian and he from the UK. They met as pen pals years ago and as time progressed so did the relationship. She worked for the World Health Organization at the time and he was a tech guy in the banking field; thus could work most anywhere. It is always eye opening how people navigate the life work balance.
A few days later we did a snorkel; island tour of Rhun and Ai. People brag about the coral here. Yes it is beautiful. So is it in Fiji, in French Poly, the Galapagos, the Cook Islands, Panama, etc. Honestly, everywhere we’ve cruised the coral is awesome. And I can’t say one place stands out more than another. A “10” is a “10” no matter where you are.
Again after our day touring Cilu Bintang hosted the group for dinner. What a great way to end the day. We enjoyed the food there so much W/ decided to take an Indonesian cooking class. I went to fly the drone. However; when I returned I ended up enjoying what they made; Fish Ball soup. Much like a Chicken soup with a fish base instead of chicken and more onions and ground up almonds. It was….. very …. good.
We were lucky, the weather on tour days was excellent. On the off days it wasn’t so nice. We had varying winds up to 20 kts with intermittent rain. We were waiting for the change of the trades. According to the guides winds this month will change from NW to SE. That would put our anchorage on a lee shore. Not what we wished. That being; we looked to pull the anchor and move across to the Maulana. There we could drop a bow anchor and tie the stern to the shore. The SE trades would keep us easily off the shore. We would use less petrol getting to the town proper and have a great view of Volcano Api.
As we float about I had been hearing our chain over coral on the bottom. I thought we would pull it up slowly to free it. I pulled in 25’ and we were snagged on something. As the tide went out I pulled more chain in and planned on letting the rising tide and the float of the boat break the chain free. In the middle of the day the bow of the boat rose, we heard the chain break free and we could retrieve more chain. I retrieved another 50’ and again we were stuck. Again as the tide went out I kept pulling the chain in. At low tide the chain was taught. At high tide the bow of Elysium was a foot lower than normal and the chain was tight as a guitar string. We heard it break free once but then nothing. I couldn’t haul anymore in. Two more high tides went by and we hadn’t moved. We now have a perfect mooring! But, we weren’t interested in leaving our anchor and 120+ feet of chain here. Time for Plan B.