Tea with the locals

Trip Start Oct 03, 2009
Trip End Feb 28, 2010

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Where I stayed
Raja Homestay

Flag of Indonesia  , West Nusa Tenggara,
Thursday, January 28, 2010

This is basically a one street town. On one side are all the holiday resorts with their gardens going downn to the beach, and on the other side are the shops, food stalls, the tour operators and the restaurants. There is not much to do except swim and snorkle. I stayed on for a full day to plan the best way to get to the islands in the eastern Indonesia. 

I try and avoid eating in restaurants and always try to seek out places where the locals go to eat. Most travellers would not venture in these little stalls because they think they are dirty but this is where you meet the locals. 

On this occasion by chance I found a beach hut at the end of a lane where treet venders went to eat.Whenever I go these places they are always surprised but pleased to see me, and I know I will get something that's nicely cooked, fresh and cheap. They always make a special effort to give the table an extra clean. 

So I went and sat on the bench ( no tables) and ordered coffee ( pronounced 'copy' ) which is coffee with condensed milk. As usual my presence brought stares from other there. Then come the questions, where I am from? where is my wife?  and why is she not with me? why am I travelling alone?  how many children? etc etc. The pattern is the same. And I ask them about their families. 

I sit there sipping my drink and watch others eating. If I see something interesting in someone's plate, then I order that. Regulars come and go. Some of them are the street vendors that I see around town. One or two will try to do a bit of selling on me, but most will just sit and chat. Its a pity I don't speak their language as there are discussions all around but I haven't a clue what they are saying. Sometimes I know thay are talking about me.
This hut is close to the hotel garden where tourists sit sipping their beers not a dozen yards away. Once in a while one of the verdors goes over to them to try sell sun glasses or bead necklaces. I watch how dismissive some of the tourists are of locals. But for the locals this is is not a game, its a struggle for survival.   

By and by two women come to the hut to have tea. They provide massages on the beach to the swimmers. One of them offers to give me a massage. She has a towel for me to lie on sand , but I decline, and she is disapponted. There are not many tourists here today. I wonder about her family at home but resist the temptation to give her some money. Once I made the mistake of  giving a chap some money and immediately beseiged by several others wanting  some as well. 

I paid the hut owner for the food and went for a walk along the beach. I was so lucky that I could go and live a different live

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