Thursday, September 9, 2010

Labuan Bajo

September 8, 2010--We enjoyed several days at Gili Bodo Island. Several local boats came by to sell carved masks and Komodo dragons. They also had a lovely assortment of pearls. We went out twice to snorkel and the spots were all right, but snorkeling through plastic trash was not very fun. We did, however, find some good shells. While we were there, Grant aboard sv Imagine celebrated his 10th birthday so his parents had a party on the beach. Quite a few cruising kids were in the anchorage, so they all had a good time. Just about every day we also saw monkeys on the beach, and they were a lot of fun to watch.

We left Gili Bodo on September 5 and headed to Labuan Bojo. The anchorage was actually a mile or two away in front of the Ego Lodge, which was very welcoming to the rally boats. They had a pool, and we could buy cold Bintang beer. There were about 30 boats in the anchorage, which was only about 20 feet deep with a thick mud bottom so we had good holding.

There were quite a few local boats with boat boys who would provide services. We ordered diesel and water from them, and they delivered it all to our boat. They also took our garbage for us. They also provided transportation to town for just 20,000 rupia or $2.

We went in to the pool at the Eco Lodge in the afternoon along with several other boats, where we sat in the lukewarm pool drinking a cold beer. We agreed to meet Esprit, Tin Soldier, and Imagine for dinner later at the restaurant next door so around 6:30 we dinghied ashore in a light rain and walked quickly to the restaurant. Steve and I ordered tenderloin steaks, and Steve's was great, but mine was a bit tough. We were stuffed when we returned to the boat.

The next day we went ashore and hired a "Bemo" or van taxi to drive us into town. We stopped at the bank to get 1,500,000 rupia ($150). We dropped off our laundry and then found a good grocery store that actually had mozzarella cheese and Cheetos. We picked up a few items and then walked around town where we ran into the crew of Tin Soldier. We all decided to stop for lunch and found a great restaurant with a view of the bay and excellent food. We did a little more shopping and then caught a ride with them back to the anchorage on a local's boat.

Katie froom sv Esprit was celebrating her 50th birthday that day so I baked her a chocolate cake. We all met on the beach at 6 p.m. and then returned to the same restaurant. This time I ordered the sautéed beef dinner, and it was excellent. Steve had another excellent tenderloin steak. After dinner we all sang "Happy Birthday" and then enjoyed cake, brownies, and ice cream. We were again stuffed as we walked back to the beach to head to the boats.

The next morning, Marilyn and her son Jaryd from Tin Soldier joined us for another shopping spree. The Bemos here all have names decaled on their wind shields so that you can remember which one is yours. Our Bemo was "Rocker." We headed for the traditional market where we were able to find green beans, cabbage, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, and even a watermelon. It is always fun at the markets because the locals are very friendly, and it is always interesting to see what is offered. The Bemo then took us to the bank for another 1,500,000 rupia. We wanted to be sure to have enough money to last us until Lombok in about a week. Next we stopped in town and went to the Corner Restaurant. They had wireless internet, although it was slow, and excellent hamburgers. After that we went to the grocery store for some more mozzarella cheese and some Bintang beer. Our last stop was to pick us our laundry. The woman was very nice but did not speak any English. Her friend was able to help us out and told me that the bill was 40,000 rupia or $4. The woman's daughter was quite precocious and wanted her picture taken, so I took a couple of pictures of her and her friends and then took some of her and her mother. They all giggled when they saw the pictures on the camera.

It was time to head back to the boat so the Bemo driver returned us to the Eco Lodge, and we paid him 170,000 rupia ($17) for three hours. We got to the beach and saw that the wind had changed and the waves were pounding the shore as well as our dinghies. It took some effort to load all our stuff into the dinghies and then get them off the beach. We got soaked on the ride back to the boat, but most of the goodies survived in good shape.

We had planned to stay on board for the evening, but sv Orono called us on the radio and asked if we would like to join them, Tin Soldier, and Finale for dinner in town. We said we would love to go, so they picked us up in the boat taxi, and we headed in. It was just misting rain so I grabbed my umbrella before we left, and I was so glad that I did because it started raining pretty hard. We walked about a block to the Corner Restaurant and looked like drowned rats when we arrived. We did enjoy an excellent dinner. Steve ordered a vanilla milk shake but ended up with something that was like cream, ice, and cucumber--it was very strange so he skipped it.

It was still raining when we left so we hurried back to the water taxi. We left the dock and were all huddled under the small piece of canvas and watched as lightening lit up the sky. The boat boys were having a difficult time with the engine as it kept dying on them, and they worked very hard and got us back to the anchorage. These little 16 horsepower engines (Mr. Engine) make a lot of noise, but they do get the boats from place to place. The first time I heard them, I thought a helicopter was coming nearby. Our next problem was that the boat's rudder would not turn the boat enough to easily pull up to our sailboats. One boat boy would have to stand on the bow and use a pole to finesse us up to a boat. The cruisers took this all in stride, and we eventually made it back to our boats, wet but happy.

Our next stop is Rinca Island to see the Komodo Dragons.

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