Ambon Pt 2

Anchored in Ambon by the University

We let our sponsor / agent know we were here now and we would await the paperwork. We tied the dinghy up and introduced ourselves. Mr. Gino’s job included the dock, boats, and construction of the new academic building. He is quite worldly; having received his Phd in the US and completed post graduate work in Europe. For us; he spoke English. We found the grocery he told us about. There W/ almost passed out. We’ve not seen one this well stocked for months. We also needed a laundry. While cruising I am the laundry machine. That is for clothes and small towels. The big stuff, bath towels, blankets, and sheets all go to laundries, when available. And there are several here. Following Google maps we didn’t find the laundry. Seems the mapping of all things Google isn’t perfect. With charade backing and some props we asked a few people where the laundry was. One young girl actually led us to it. Leave it and return in 3 days. Bingo. Life is good.

In the next couple of days Natsumi arrived followed by True Blue V and later Wild One. Tales were told, discoveries shared and new people met. Thru Johnny Ambon and a local restaurant owner we contacted Ivan. He had a car and spoke passable English. All of us used him. We scouted around town. Discovered an Ace Hardware store that must the largest in the world! Additionally he took W/ and I to Telkomsel.

Phones and Internet in Indonesia are oft times frustrating. First, on our boat a phone is not considered a part of our equipment. For us it is also part or our safety. But, Indonesia is hard nosed when it comes to phones. Only phones manufactured in Indo or have had duty paid on them are good to go. They control this through the IMEI number. If your phone IMEI number is on the list you get service. If not there is no connection to phone or data in Indonesia. When we arrived and purchased our first phone card the agent registered the IMEI number. We didn’t know or understand the 3 month limit. In Labuha we discovered this. Both phones stopped working. There is no Telkomsel office in Labuha. Our only alternative  was to buy Indonesian phones. We bought the Oppo A57’s. A nice alternative to the Apple phones but a tad bit clunky. Of course we’re not comparing Apples to Apples. 🙂 We used those phones and the data connection till Ambon.

In Ambon I went to the Telkomsel office and got a new registration for my iPhone. Again, I understand they can only do this twice. Our second three months will be up when we reach Flores and we’ll be back to our A57’s. The photos’ are not as good. The alternative is to carry the A57’s and iPhones. Use the A57’s hotspot and then the iPhone will get data and we can take and post photos. The iPhone will not be functional. Two days to get both phones up and working.

Ruja Indonesia dessert
Ruja an Indo dish of Peanut suce, sugar and fruit

While we mucked around with the phones we did some tourist stuff. Ivan, the driver we cruisers hired took us on a road trip to another fort on the N side of the island. The Dutch were fond of their forts. We had lunch at what we called the Presidents restaurant. Sari

The President of Indonesia was said to heat here

Gurih. We understood the President of Indonesia once ate there. The food and company were excellent.

We also did the typical “cruisers in town” stuff. A movie theater was playing “A Man Called Otto”. Four of us went and with subtitles in Bahasa I learned a few new words. A good movie by the way. We hit the mall, and there I came across the largest Ace Hardware store I’ve seen anywhere in the world. About 3 x’s the size of the largest Walmart in the US! Multiple

Great Smoothie
An Awesome Smoothie
Making Sagu
Making Sagu

floors and you would be hard pressed to see from one end to the other. I came across an exceptional smoothie place that necessitated daily trips. Added some diesel fuel. Filled in our boat stores. Received some much needed boat supplies thanks to Ayu at Wicks’ in Sarong and Johnny Ambon here. 

And our real reason for being here: Visa stamps. Our Agent Raymond had sent the paper work to Herman. We had planned on anchoring by Herman’s home but as I said earlier the anchorage in this season was not safe. Herman met us near our boat and we set off to the Immigration office. We arrived in the “Open” time but the officials were moving their lunch time forward. The official out front suggested a return at 1:30 pm. As cruisers we don’t argue with government officials. We grabbed lunch and were back when they reopened. There was some concern that we had never “met” our sponsor, Raymond. In another office Herman was asked to contact him and after much discussion it seemed likely we would get our new stamps. Come back in two days. And we did. Ivan was our driver the second time and we went to the office only to be told that the paper work on one of the visas was wrong. Raymond would need to send the correct paper work. Oh shit! I really, really hate runarounds and hate when the master key is on another’s plate. We contacted Raymond and he said he would correct it and send the correct letter. Lunch again and I called Raymond to see if it was done. After all; we were paying for this! Raymond said he couldn’t send it through to the immigration office and sent it to Herman. We were not with Herman. I asked him to send it to me. He did using WhatsApp.

Everyone in Indonesia loves WhatsApp. A couple of minutes later I had it and back to the Immi office we went. Immigration said they hadn’t received it yet, I showed them my copy and they forwarded it off my phone to theirs. Printed it and took all the paperwork to the supervisor. An hour’s wait and finally, finally everything came back ok, we had our stamp and were good to go. It seems that Raymond and the Ambon office have a few wrinkles to work out. But; that isn’t our problem, not anymore. We have the stamp and are good for two more months. Yipee!

Johnny ended up with the master key for Ambon. He knew everyone that yachties needed and could connect with any locals that would make our stay memorable. One day the city of Rutong was hosting their sister city from the Netherlands in a full day party. Working with the Ambon tourist office, Johnny got the cruisers invited. An hour and a half ride to Rutong on the south side of the island dropped us off  just as rain began. A slight drizzle doesn’t deter much in Indonesia. A band played while people mulled around. A wee bit later we were off to the church for a brief; not brief, service honoring their sister city. Yes the mayor of the sister city and his entourage were here. After which we attended a gathering of the major families to welcome the new guests. Of course I took part. I was now considered a member of this community. Tied up with a drink called Sopi, an alcoholic wine that is more like a spirit. Being welcomed into the community entails will not letting anyone starve, anyone go without clothing, or housing. And you cannot date or marry anyone from the community. Of course W/ already has that restriction on me. 🙂 The idea is that then one would be marrying their sister or brother! From there to the beach head.

At the beach everyone ate. In typicial Pacific Island, Indonesian culture; guests ate first. Between food and entertainment I went exploring.  I found where various families share in harvesting the Palm trees to make Sagu. A base for many of the meals. They sat me down and let me try. It wasn’t easy. 

The community acknowledges the color differences in people. The skit wasa parody on that difference. All the small children were all watching; enthralled to the max. Phones and tablets couldn’t compete with what their elders were doing! W/’s other seat mate was fluent in Bahasa and English. He explained bits to us as the play went on. 

One of the cast wanted to sit with “the white” people. They had given us (not just the cruisers but the sister city group too) a tent for shade and to guard against further rain. There was an argument

I want to sit with the white people

that he was too dark to sit with the white people. The main character came up with a way to be… white. He dumped flour on his head. By all appearances that was to be the end but I had a different idea. I went up to the stage and offered my seat to him! The crowd loved it and he went with it. He came and sat next to W/. She had a new friend, and he bragged that he was 76 years old! 

Lenda, Dave’s dance partner

We danced, yeah I was dragged onto the dance floor by Lendia, a lovely tall Indonesian women who earlier I had mistaken for being from the Netherlands. She was taller than 99% of all Indonesians, males included. A real rarity. There again I discovered why dancing and I don’t mesh well. Foot movement for me is learned via sport, keep moving my feet, fast. Dancing seems to be feet moving slowly. My feet would not slow down and while I was frustrated a wee bit, others found it funny. W/ was one! 🙂 

Ambon’s time was ending. We had our visas updated, boat stores added to, new experiences filed away, and we were ready to move. We’d heard a lot about the Spice islands and were keen on visiting them. Our next adventure awaits.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Fiji Time

At the end of July we went to Fiji immigration in Nadi.  Our Visa was up  August 26, and we wanted to stay until November (ish). We could always fly out of the country and return. Many cruisers do a round trip to Vanuatu all in a day. The cost for W/ and I would be almost the same as applying for an extension.  We felt the hassle of leaving the boat, packing, traveling to the airport, getting stamped out of Fiji, getting stamped into Vanuatu and out on the same day; often catching the same plane back, would have been a PITA.  We opted for the extension.

At the immigration office we had to fill out more paperwork. Once completed we discovered the immigration officer gave us the wrong paperwork not understanding how long we were staying. We filled out a few more pages. Then with copies of our Passports, boat papers, a bank statement (showing we have enough money to not be a burden on the country), and about $500 Fijian dollars we walked out with a receipt and a nod to return to any immigration office after two weeks for our new visa stamps.

We worried that we would need to hang around Nadi for two weeks. But;  the officer assured us we could continue enjoying Fiji and receive the passport stamps at any immigration office.
It took us 3 weeks to travel to Savusavu.  We were a week past our Visa but we had our receipt. In the US I don’t know what they would have done. Hell, with some of the current vitriol we may have been shot being illegal immigrants! 🙂  Fortunately, Fiji is understanding and intelligent in these matters but they are not nearly as timely as much of the western world.

Upon arrival in Savusavu and getting settled with the boat we took our documents to the immigration office for our  passport stamps. About 15 minutes later the officer said the extensions had not yet been approved and to come back next week.  She DID NOT  say “oh-oh, you need to leave”!  We had our receipt and that seemed to entitle us our continued cultural experience.
Roughly tens days pass and we decide to check again with the immigration office. We are thinking of heading out Monday for anchorages unknown. With that trip in mind we need to know if we must stop by other immigration offices or not.  By now we are approximately 6 weeks after our application and 4 weeks past our visas.

Luck was with us. The Immigration officer said our application had been approved. However we needed to return Monday. They needed a fax/email from the head office and we needed to pay another approximately $200 F.  Still a better deal than flying out and back in one day.
When you talk of accomplishing tasks in Fiji one often hears “Fiji Time”.  The understanding is that the task will get completed but not in the time you expect. It may be later today, tomorrow or next week. Often the follow up to Fiji time is Siga na liga.  No Worries.  What a pleasant way to travel life’s paths.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Bad News

It was in Raiatea that we discovered the bad news.  As I said earlier W/ had received an email from one of the yards here that they could indeed haul and store us for the Summer and before we had made any final decisions we felt the need to check it out.  It was talking to the yard manager when we were discussing our Visa and she said our time depended on if the visa was marked “180” days or had a date range.  That evening I checked our visas.

Dates instead of Days
Dates instead of Days

Our visas had a date range. But!  When sv NorthStar cleared in they cleared on the exact same date as we did and their year visa then came back a year from the date they had cleared in. I had assumed ours would be the same. But, sometimes I’m a worry wart and  did not want to get

Our Entry Stamp
Our Entry Stamp

caught up in the French Bureaucracy so I took pics of our date stamp and our 6 month visa then emailed them to our agent.

She in turned forwarded the question to the Haut Commissaire and asked for clarification. The answer we received was not the one we wished. We lost a month!

When we asked for the long term stay visa in Panama we were asked if we wanted a 6 months or a year. A year came with a 2 month visa and then the need to go to Papeete for completion of the Carte de Sejour. We didn’t want to hurry through the Marquesas and Tuomotus and felt 6 months would be long enough  On our application we had put the dates as June 1st to December 1st for our 6 months.  When the visa arrived it came back with the dates  different by one month from what we had asked for. As we were now getting late in this season to leave we didn’t feel we could stay and wait for the change; this visa took over 30 days to receive.. Boy, were we wrong!

Now the decision has come back to bite us in the; well the best way is to say it is the, ass.  That puts a dent in our option to haul and reduces the time we had planned on spending in Bora Bora.

Time to get moving, time to get things done. No more Go Slow, Stay Long although that still is my philosophy. As this yard has a welding shop we’ll next stop and see about getting one item checked off the list we’ve been traveling with from Panama fixed; the cracked bow pulpit rail .

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long