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Riung August 14, 2005 Español

Posted by Belle in : Riung, Indonesia

We reached Riung in the early afternoon. What a beautiful place to sail into. There are lots of little islands scattered about. Tall mountains, forests of very tall, elegant palm trees, lush at sea level and drier on the mountains. Wence and I went for a walk through the town. Ricardo watched after Dio who was immediately bombarded with hugs when we got off the dinghy. We were greeted with a hand shake and another beautiful, hand woven scarf. I think I have at least three now. They are all so different and beautiful. Wence and I walked on the main street, very small town. One street seems to be paved, the other dirt. The houses near the water are up on stilts. There are chickens and goats wandering around everywhere. Pigs in their sheds near the road. The locals would greet us from outside of their houses with a smile. They always say, “Hello Meeeester, hello meeeesus.” And children will come up and start talking to you in English. “Thank you for coming.” One girl said. “It is very nice to know you.” A boy with a beautiful smile said. They all want to talk to you. I wish I could talk to all of them, but I can’t. So I smile, try to give them a really good smile. They give very long smiles here. Smiles that would make most westerners uncomfortable, because our smiles are so short, like a word. This I my, “hello, nice to meet you” smile. Or my “I am a nice person, but cannot talk to you” smile. Or, “I am too busy, sorry” smile. Their smiles are more like feelings. Their smiles remind me of the first day of school when everything seems so new and exciting and you just can’t wait for anything, you want to plunge into it all like its beautiful, clear water with fish glowing from the bottom. It seems so cliché to say, but true. These people are more pure in their intentions. They are more open, at least to a point. And nothing brings this out more than our children, Dio and Theodore. I cannot help but wonder how different our perception of these places would be if we were not accompanied by two beautiful boys.

We found a small outside market that was selling more ikat cloth and some clothing. They also had a beautiful shirt made from ikat cloth. Wence had been looking for one of these since Kupang. Although we found a lot of Ikat cloth in Alor, nobody would make it into a shirt for us. We thought it was a bit strange because there were men wearing them. Obviously somebody MADE them, but not in Alor. Wence tried this one on and it fit perfectluy. “Only very important people where this shirt. Only Vice President, someone like this wear this shirt.” One of the two guys running the stand said to us. It fit Wences perfectly. He did look rather regal. “How much?” Wences asked. They started speaking to each other in Indonesian. “This shirt is 500,000 ($50 US).” Wence and I looked at each other. That was a bit high. “No way. We bought an Ikat for 100,000 in Alor. It should not be more than 200,000.” The English speaking guy turned to his friend and translated. “Well, you know what they say, different field, different grasshopper.” I could not help smiling. I knew that line was destined to become one of our sayings. Wences thanked the guy and started to leave. Of course I was too retarded to see that this was all a ploy Wence looked through his money clip. He only had $200,000 ($20 US). “Excuse me!” The grasshopper guy was coming after us. “Look, we are willing to talk about this. How much are you willing to pay for this very important shirt?” Not skipping a beat, wences said, “10,000.” Grasshopper guy looked insulted. Wences started walking away again. “How about 4000,000?”
“No, that’s too much.”Wences started walking away.
“Well, how about 300,000?”
“I only have 200,000.” The two guys looked at each other, some what disappointed.
“Look, we need the money. Today is our last day here and we have not sold very much so under these circumstances, we are willing to accept your price.”

And that is the art of negotiating!

The next day there was an organized outing to the beach. We were a little tired of organized rally events, moving like a herd of cattle across Indonesia, but decided to go. What a beautiful beach. We all boarded a bunch of fishing boats and road for less than a half hour to a beautiful island. They prepared a yummy meal with seriously spicey bits of some unidentified meat wrapped in leaves and little packets of rice with coconut milk wrapped in beautiful little baskets of banana leaf. Right off the beach there was some nice snorkeling. It was the perfect beach for Dio because it was very shallow. He played in the water with everyone and discovered star fish. Now everything that is in the shape of a star is a star fish.

I had not hung out with the people in the rally in such a casual environment and was happy to meet a few new faces. As I was breast feeding Theo in a shady area, a group of them migrated towards me to get out of the sun. I could not help but overhear their conversation. They were talking with a guy named Noen who had been traveling with the rally, promoting tourism in Langkawie, Malaysia. He was telling them about all kinds of airline deals, hotel packages, rental cars, everything was super cheap and sounded really great. But this group of retired American sailors could not be pleased. They kept asking for more and more, even suggesting that the airplane deals must be so good because the planes were from the second world war. Noen, who is Malaysian had finally had enough and said, still managing to sound polite, “We are not monkeys in the jungle, we do have planes in Malaysia.” I was so embarrassed that I walked away. Not wanting to hear any more of this conversation. I found Dio flirting with a 30 year old German woman in the shallow water. This guy is going to be trouble when he is a teenager. He already has the ladies lining up. As he would say in his kiwi accent, “Oh dearah!”

That night I stayed in with Theo while everyone went out for Liz’s birthday. Afterwards we had people over for drinks and snacks. It was nice to get to meet more people from the rally. They are all so nice. A lot of retired American couples. I asked them all about their lives and was fascinated. They have all been cruising for years and have lots of stories to tell. At first glance some of these people do not appear to be the courageous, open minded, world travelers that they are. But after a few moment you realize they all have interesting stories to tell. I could have listened for hours. Days even to all of the stories they had.