November 28th 1983

posted in: The way back | 0

The crew of the Tridaya

A walk to Paotere once more.  We’d been told the captain was expected at 9 am, so we were determined not to miss him.  We needn’t have bothered tho’, since when we arrived we were given a new time, of around noon.  This left us in a bit of a quandary.  If, as the guys on board still insisted, the boat was leaving first thing in the morning, we needed to get to a bank, + we had a feeling the banks shut at 12.  Paotere being the grotty little fishing village it was, there was hardly likely to be a bank there, so it meant another trip into town.  We had to go together too – UP, + Paotere even more so, were not the sort of places I would feel safe at Val being alone in.

So back to town it was, tho’ we lightened our load this time when I persuaded Val it was sensible to take a becak – she usually has to be persuaded to spend any money at all.  We were dropped off right outside a large bank, which did us not the slightest bit of good as they didn’t change travellers’ cheques there.  And neither did the next 3 that we tried, tho’ luckily we were in the banking area so didn’t have to walk far.  (Tho’ even just crossing the street can be a major hassle in UP.)  We were finally successful tho’ – the people were reasonably efficient too.  And reasonably friendly, which makes a bit of a change.

We returned to the Ramayana then, + checked out.  Even if we weren’t going on the boat, we didn’t think we could afford another night of R7000 luxury, pleasant tho’ it was.  So we took a swift final shower – we were both dripping with sweat – + girded ourselves for the walk to Paotere once more, this time laden down with packs.  In fact, it wasn’t at all difficult, because we jumped on a bemo which took us along the longest stretch of the route, + after that it was a piece of cake.  Once again (as always) we attracted enormous attention as we walked thro’ Paotere – we’ve decided the best way to cope with it is not to be unfriendly, to say hello back to as many of the callers as one can manage, but on all accounts to keep moving.  As soon as one stops a huge crowd develops + surrounds one.

The crew on board the boat (the Tridaya) were quite friendly + invited us aboard.  As expected tho’, still no captain.  The story had changed a little too.  It was now expected that the sailing date would not be tomorrow, but certainly the day after.  It was also agreed that we could sleep on the boat tonight, so, particularly since we had our bags with us, I thought we might as well accept what fate had thrown at us (or thrown us at.)  There was also a promise that the captain would arrive this evening, tho’ we set little store by that.

It wasn’t exactly an exciting afternoon that we spent with our hosts, rather a rough bunch of seamen, but the time passed pleasantly enough.  Val’s Indonesian has reached the standard where she can maintain a simple conversation, + I communicated by dumbshow.  I also caused quite a stir when I went to have a game of football with a bunch of youths on the quayside.  At first they wouldn’t let me play, which was fair enough since I was wearing heavy boots + most of them were barefoot, but the problem was got around to everyone’s satisfaction by putting me in goal.  I certainly had quite a following, but I’m afraid my performance was only fair.  I was also assisted by some kind refereeing (it was refereeing by consensus).  I rather think we lost in the end, tho’ only one allowed goal went past me.  My only mishap was a skinned knee, which everyone in Paotere seemed anxious to bring to my attention.

There were quite a few visitors to the ship during the day, coming + going, but I was quite dumbfounded when, as one guest in particular had just left + was in fact cycling away, we were told that that had been the captain.  But it was quite alright, our informant told us – he’d spoken with the Captain + it was quite alright for us to travel with them.  It was impossible to explain that we needed to talk with the Captain to discuss the price, + also to discover exactly when the Tridaya was likely to sail.  Ah well.

We were given a fine meal – rice, of course, with really chunky fish steaks in a spicy sauce, with, regrettably, a rather stringy spinach-like vegetable.  I was also surprised at the drink we were given – plain hot water – but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  In the evening we started to play cards – I was going to teach them pairs, that being the simplest to explain, but rain messed that one up, + we were driven into the wheelhouse to watch some incomprehensible programme, followed by one of bland Indonesian pop.  When the rain ceased, we were given the wheelhouse as our cabin.  It was reasonably comfortable until another rainstorm drove an extra crew member to share our nest- we never did find out who he was.  He curled up considerately at first, but soon began to stretch out.  Not, Val thought, with amorous intent, but we switched places to thwart any further plans in that direction.

We do seem to have happened upon a convivial bunch, even down to feeding us and providing us with somewhere to stay, but it does seem rather haphazard, and even at this (apparently advanced)stage of negotiation, I have my doubts about this turning out quite as successfully. Still, we shall just have to hang on and see.

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