The world is awesome, but I miss ice cream.

Trip Start Jan 15, 2012
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
SV Island Prism

Flag of Indonesia  , East Nusa Tenggara,
Tuesday, September 4, 2012

We were up before the sun painted a pink and golden sunrise over the steep cliffs of Flores.  Our plan for the day was to get to Labuan Bajo, a town on the west end of Flores which serves as the gateway to Komodo National Park.  We started off with a great broad reach, and soon hoisted the main and let out the genoa.  I asked Jim for a refresher on basic windvane handling, and set it up under his guidance.  I soon had everything under control and sent Jim down below for a nap.  It ended up being a huge learning day for me.  I sat watch all day, adjusting the sails and windvane as required, gybing the boat by myself as the wind direction changed and trying to keep the sails and windvane balanced.  Jim, meanwhile, spent a gloriously lazy day dozing and reading.  Persian Sands soon outpaced us once again, but I kept them within sight.

We anchored off a beach with an eco resort and a few restaurants.  This gave us a great selection of places to go for dinner and provided a quiter anchorage than if we'd gone near the town.  Getting a shore involved a bit of caution as there was a sandbar, but we repeatedly made it without misshap.  The Saumlaki leg of the rally joined with the Kupang leg here.  We had missed the festivities, but quite a few Kupang boats were still around.  The reunion led to a degree of friendly rivalry, with the Kupang sailors teasing us about our back water, middle-of-nowhere, rough and ready sailing route and us commenting on their cushy cruising.  It was great to swap stories and to meet up with a few familiar faces who we hadn't seen since Darwin.  It was also great to be reunited with western food.  Indonesian cuisine had formed most of my diet for almost two months; I loved it but it was exciting to have a taste of home.  For a few days we were joyfully reunited with burgers and pasta at the excellent restaurant Atlantis, which served Meditteranean-influenced food in a restaurant built from a boat.  Apparently although we were happy to have a brief culinary interlude, we couldn't quite leave alone all things nautical. 

We were well due for a reprovision, and we joined in with Sea Eagle and Mabuhay to hire a boat to take us all into the town.  Despite a lack of beauty, the place had a frontier kind of character which I found appealing.  The two supermarkets were relatively rudimentary but had some surprising odds and ends.  I was unable to obtain tinned tomatoes, but could have had a choice of balsamic vinegars.  The wet market seemed to be located over an open sewer, with ladies sitting on wooden boards above the gutter, piles of fruit and vegetables in front of them.  It was a rather malodourous area, and the fish market next door didn't seem much better.  Jim and I found a store in a more savoury part of town where a lovely elderly couple carefully bagged up our enormous order, including the first potatoes we had seen since Darwin.  We paused by a dusty square of ground that may have once had grass to take in a few minutes of a local football match.  The pitch took up the whole square, creating an unusually-shaped playing field.  Despite the heat, the players and supporters showed a huge degree of enthusiam.

Our most thrilling discovery was a bakery which served European-style bread, coffee and ice cream.  We relished the heavy wholemeal bread, such a change from the favoured white sweet bread in Banda, or the steamed bread which I made myself in the pressure cooker.  The delicious homemade ice cream was a huge treat, and the fragrant, freshly-brewed coffee was a refreshing change from the endless sachets of Nescafe we'd avoided in the north.  In Indonesia, coffee is usually served incredibly sweet and often very milky, not to my taste at all (unless the sweetness is in the form of a caramel macchiato).   Our delicious Tanna coffee had run out, and we were very excited to discover bags of ground coffee beans in the shops in Labuan Bajo.  This turned out to be very good indeed; the local way of serving it was to put the grounds in the bottom of the cup or pot and add water, creating a wonderful rich brew which we called 'mud'.    

Labuan Bajo was really just a dusty little town with a main street; not particularly clean or attractive.  I found it had a certain charm, although perhaps it was just the excitement of being in 'Civilisation' with familiar things!  For me, the most thrilling thing about the town was the range of diveshops; we were going to give Prism a well-earned rest and organise a liveaboard dive adventure.  We trawled the shops, finding out about packages, inspecting gear and getting extremely excited.  Eventually we settled on Bajo Dive Club, who had a 3 day liveaboard leaving the next day.  Peter and Penny promised to keep an eye on Prism whilst we were gone.  We packed our gear bag, and Jim had a hard time stopping me bouncing off the walls with anticipation.  

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