It is around four in the afternoon and I cannot begin to describe the place where I am sitting, but will try anyway. Rob and I have just ridden around 96ks from Ruteng to reach the Suva Sea coast of Flores. Rob had powered ahead of me over the last 15 k's or so and stopped at a roadside vendor to wait for me. Whilst sitting there he noticed a sign in English (a rare thing around here unless big tobacco is trying to impress to local impressionables) to the Mehelia Beach Inn. The vendors shanty was at the foot of a fairly decent descent and by the time I got there I had up a fair head of steam, I shot pass not seeing Robs bike and only belatedly heard him call out. Coming back, he pointed out the sign and we agreed to see what it was like
. We got to the Inn via what could only be described as a goat track and were met by the owner who said one of the bungalows was available for 300,000rp which was a bit much but surveying the setting we quickly agreed. Our room was not quite made up so we were taken to the beach side dining area for tea and beer. They also asked us if we would like some lunch which we said we would. The dining area is about 20metres from the beach. To my left the beach arcs around and disappears behind what I think is a tamarind tree. Off in the distance is the perfectly conical 2245m peak of the volcano Gununginerie. At various times this afternoon it has been completely obscure by clouds, at present it's peak can be seen but clouds are obscuring the middle 2/3 of it. To my right the beach disappears into the greenery but another peak dominates that scene as well. I have no idea about this one as it has been covered in cloud since we got here. The beach has a couple of kids playing on it but it has essentially been devoid of much human activity since we got here. The bungalows are essentially just a raised platform with a thatched roof and wicker sides to about four feet. It is completely open above that. Behind the bungalow is what looks like a fairly modern bathroom. I could easily spend a couple of days here. Did I mention the lunch they provided, charcoaled whole fish with a delicious grilled eggplant salad plus rice.
Any way enough of that.
The day didn't start to well. The guy at the hotel had told us yesterday that we could catch a bus over the first climb this morning from right outside the hotel. This morning it was no you must ride to the bus station, ok how far is that, about 1km. We found the bus station at just over three k's away. We arrived at the bus station and asked about a ride to the start of the downhill, fortunately no one spoke English until a very kind lady came to our rescue and told us we could easily ride the journey to the point we had asked to be taken to. She even volunteered to follow us on her scooter. We declined her assistance but took her advice and set off only to find the climb we had anticipated did not exist. What did exist was a sublime descent of about 8k's. The stars aligned here, the road surface was good, traffic sporadic, temperature joyous. I knew ultimately a climb would have to ensue as the geography still screamed pain. The climb did come but was manageable. After about 15k's we got to what would be the point of my redemption. Stretched across a crest in the road was a bamboo gateway, king of the mountain style. In the middle of the gateway was a cross, now I know many of you will scoff at me making religious references but I had a good feeling about this cross. Around 45k's later we were on the coast hardly turning the pedals at all. The scenery on the way downs was magical, lots of rice terracing, volcanic vistas and lots of hello mister. The last 36k's had its moments lots of climbing and descending, I did have one time where I had to walk for about 400m. I put this down to divine retribution for me making religious symbolism in a bicycle blog.
Tomorrow is a bus ride up to the town of Bajawa not the fair away but by the look of the map the climb from hell. We hope to spend 2 days there a get some washing done as everything I own stinks.
The traveller from hell arrived at our hotel yesterday, I am not sure how public this blog is so I better not say to much, suffice to say that this persons arrival had every body walking on eggshells.