The Wonders of Soil and Water

Trip Start Jul 04, 2004
Trip End Jul 09, 2004

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Wednesday, July 7, 2004

Thursday, July 7th

It sounded like nature's orchestra. The birds, singing together in their loudest voices, woke me up from my dreamy sleep. I soon got up and out. It was still dark and quiet in the entire island, and I digested that quietness of morning by walking along the seaside. Lives were yet unlived, unless by some who woke up early (least of all were the foreigners), and to those who did was given the miraculous experience of sunrise. I stared and stared for minutes on end on that stunning event happening beyond the horizon.

The empty morning road

I went back to my room. The sun, whose crimson streaks of light ripped the dark apart, still left me hypnotized. I fell asleep again and woke up somewhere after 8.

I met Arnt the Norwegian again the time I was having breakfast at Blue Marlin. He was quite hurried (his fellow divers were waiting on a boat), but we talked for a short while about coral reefs and diving sites all around the islands before he jumped aboard. I observed how the divers' boat dissolved with the open waters as it went.

My breakfast and my journal

I chose to spend my daytime and my Rp 45.000 on Snorkeling Trip to the three Gilis on a glass-bottom boat. Apparently there were only five persons that took the snorkeling trip that day: an Italian couple, a German couple, and the lone traveler. Iannis and Luisa came from a town in Vasa Valley region near Milan. From my further conversations came the facts that he was a communication engineer and she was a school teacher. The other couple embarked from Cologne, a port-city on the German coast. Ingo was studying mechanics and working as an analyst, and Anna was an interior designer. We were in a good mood, all of us, save for Luisa that was having a stomach problem.

I gazed at the tosca-colored water that surrounded us, splashing our bodies wet, but warm. And in the first dive to the sea I had already realized the grandeur of aquatic life. There was a coral reef that was shaped such as a giant's brain, tinted green all over. And many were shaped like clouds, or sculptures. The dead reefs were also a treat to the eye, for they looked like mammoth-sized rocks covered with ashes. And schools of many different fish, as if trying to swim away, appeared only timidly, but when they did, they did so gracefully. A big, multicolored fish, a fast swimmer it seemed, was trying to catch his lunch. Ingo and Anna saw a big turtle. Overall the boat brought us to three different snorkeling spots near three different Gilis. The last spot near Gili Air ('air' here means 'water', and is also pronounced differently from the English-word 'air') gave us the greatest astonishment and convenience (perhaps it was because at the third spot we had already got used to snorkeling). After that we stopped by on Gili Air to have lunch.

Luisa's stomach was still ruffling, it seemed, so she and Iannis just sat and walked around, at times conversing with the nagging sellers, haggling for a necklace or bracelets or beach clothing. Meanwhile, Ingo, Anna, and I took to lunch. All three of us ordered grilled barracudas. The meal wasn't bad, I thought, unaware that later that night we would feel very disappointed with it. Ingo was stressed trying to deal with the fish's minuscule bones. Before getting on board and along the way back to Trawangan, we took some photographs together. On Trawangan we departed our ways.

Germans, Italians, Indonesian

I went back quickly to my room to drop all the things I didn't need to bring, and strolled to the beach. The sun was mild and warm, so contrast with the morning-to-noon sunlight which was awfully scorching, and when I bathed myself in the sea again, the feeling was something sensational. I met Ingo and Anna again, all cleaned up, walking along the beach. We agreed to meet at Mantadive at 7 pm.

Then I went cycling again, but this time I chose another path that was surely less traveled by tourists. It was just right to call this path a "shortcut to sunset" because it is indeed a shortcut from the beach straight to the true west side of the island, which is the best place to observe the breathtaking view of sunset. This path was far less rough than the one I took one day before, darker because of the shadow of trees. I could also see cattle grazing around in the middle of my ride. Finally I got to the edge of it, a very serene and secluded beach. It is on the western coast, very rough and full with oceanic remnants of life, mainly from corals and seaweeds, and the waves there, that day, were much calmer than those in the northern beach.

Shortcut to sunset

After I took a salty shower I came to Mantadive to see Ingo and Anna. He was observing the arrays of fresh fish, and after seeing a barracuda that was about 40 centimeters long, he exclaimed, "So what we ate on Gili Air just this afternoon were only baby barracudas, and this is the real one," regretfully. The disappointment was also mine, the first of two which I encountered throughout the trip. In the end Ingo decided to eat a big snapper, while Anna and I settled on a smaller one and also a squid. Each menu was served with rice, grilled corn, and a very delicious dish of vegetables.

Ingo was so stunned by the taste of traditional Sasak chili sauce (in fact, Lombok is a Javanese word for chili) and confessed that he had never tasted something as hot as that in his country. We all had a very unforgettable evening: eating seafood outdoor in a wooden gazebo where in front of you was the open sea, and talked about a lot of curious things. It is still clear in my memory, we fervently discussed the particular topic about how one's upbringing and environment play an vital role in constructing one's own mentality (principally about being tolerant and open-minded), and thus the mentality of one's race as a whole. And the discussion continued to the fact that happiness itself is a paradox; just look at the happy paupers and the fretful millionaires.

When finally a platter of fresh fruit salad was served, Anna was so enthusiastic that she almost ate all the papaya, saying that "Fruits here are very sweet and cheap. I like this papaya very much. And Ingo loved the bananas here. They're smaller than what we've got in Germany, but taste far better. And watermelons in our country, well, they are more water than melon." We together laughed jovially at that. Perhaps this was a priceless gift to tropical countries, I thought.

Shimmering blades of grass

"Look! You can see the milky way," Anna said jokingly, but she almost told us the truth. The sky was just as clear as the night before. Our heads remained looking up high, so amazing, all those stars, while our feet trod the sand. And our ears were faced with two opposite walls of sound: the soft, solemn rhyme of the ancient wind and sea on one side, and the loud, booming sound of modern music on the other. Between those invisible walls we parted company with a shakehand and earnest farewell-and-goodbyes.
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