“The end”

Trip Start Sep 18, 2010
Trip End Jul 27, 2011

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Where I stayed
Hotel Mentari
What I did
Sunset at the Waterfront
Looking for edibles

Flag of Indonesia  , East Nusa Tenggara,
Sunday, May 8, 2011

'Ende' in German means ‘the end’. Our first stroll around this sleepy town does feel a little like that. Hard to believe that there is an airport in this place. The streets are empty mid day and I suspect there won’t even be dogs up after dark.

Marc found a few local boys he joins for a round of soccer, while Manu and I walk the streets in search for food. There are a couple of 'Waruns', dining places that give you a plate of rice on top of which you get to choose from different fried meats and vegetables. Greasy, dripping and in my humble opinion tasting like nothing more than chili and rancid oil. Thanks but no thanks. I crave a celebrity chef meal. The next option is a hotel restaurant. Except that it looks more like a construction zone inside and there doesn’t appear to be any food at all. Then a really cute looking hut-like thing we walk in. A very animated lady says a lot of words we don’t understand and sends us further down the road. I think this was someone’s living room that we stepped into.

The sounds we thought to be some sort of parade, turn out to come from a soccer field. Teenage teams lined up on it and cheerleaders in full-body outfits including headscarves. Flores is 80% Catholic with many mixed marriages, but Ende feels more like the rest of Indonesia which is over 90% Muslim. Across from the soccer field, fried food street stalls. We are not yet desperate enough. Finally a dark place, adjacent to the 5th or so beauty salon we saw. It says ‘restoran’ outside and they have a menu with English translation. We give up our search and stay. Manu still feels sick and doesn’t really want to eat anyways. A soup with hopefully not too much MSG might give her a bit of energy.

Once I get used to the dim light, I see massive lobsters mounted to the rattan walls and crabs and fake deer heads. The typical plastic chairs and tables look cleaner than usual. Paint prints on the walls, egg carton stacked up on the floor, humming ice boxes and fans strategically placed around the room. Walk-through door to the beauty parlour.

We both feel rather annoyed by this country. Which is unfortunate, because there is so much beauty to be explored. The cost (not the financial cost, but the mental and physical one) is high though. A few years from now, we can see this place booming. Right now, we are not (or no longer) in the right mindset to enjoy ourselves and Indonesia’s challenges unconditionally. If you want to get away from the masses, I suggest you come here. Unfortunately, the locals in too many cases have already figured out that foreigners mean cash. Fair enough, except that they are taking advantage of that in very unpleasant ways: Lying does not seem to conflict with their religion. It is the kind of tourist-free, off-the-beaten-track place we always seek. But the constant cheat attempts leave a very bad taste. Either we are stuck between two defining phases of ‘undiscovered’ and ‘booming’, or dealing with a mentality we just can’t handle. I’d like to hang out some more with the CS folks to try and understand this. Back in Jakarta and Yogya, I didn’t feel this strongly.

In the evening Marc and I take a stroll to the black sand beach, watching kids playing in the water, showing off for us. We ignore the strewn about garbage and I enjoy one of the best sunsets ever. Back at the hotel, we grab some beers from the tiny, sweet man that works there. We dubbed him ‘Frodo’, because he looks like a hobbit (and it’s not that far flung indeed: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homo_floresiensis). Marc heads out to make more local friends and eat while Manu and I skip dinner to instead enjoy our decent shower and beers in our room.
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