At the Ende of the Earth

Trip Start Sep 17, 2007
Trip End Oct 08, 2008

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Flag of Indonesia  ,
Wednesday, May 21, 2008

After our amazingly exciting (and painful) bus ride the day before, we were understandably a little skittish about boarding another bus the next morning.  But after a early banana pancake and coffee, we were ready to face whatever the day threw at us.  After all, it was only 4-5 hours to Ende.

Initial signs were promising.  The bus was not packed, either with produce or people.  We even seemed to move relatively quickly out of town.  We only had to stop once so the driver could bang around with a very large wrench.  Then we were on our way.

In fact, it wasn't until we were well on our way that things started to go wrong.  It wasn't until he turned on the CD player.

Some people have the sound up in their cars.  My Dad, for instance.  But it was nothing like this.  For the first couple of seconds we both hunched down and covered our ears.  The noise blotted out all thought.  It was WAY TOO LOUD.  It would have been okay if he had just left it there, letting our ears adjust to the noise.  But he was talking to his friends, too.  When he needed to hear them, he would crank the volume down.  Then, when he was finished, he would ram it up again.  It got more painful everytime.  Then he started to drive fast.  Really fast.  The Flores "highway" is basically a horizontal rollercoaster.  Instead of going up and down, you go left and right.  Constantly.  There is always a drop on one side.  The road is not big enough for two cars.  We almost got run off the road because the driver couldn't hear the car honking around the blind turn. 

Yet, as we coasted along the highway, we came upon a brilliant view of the mist-shrouded valley and the retreating town of Bajawa, he switched to another CD and Bryan Adam's "Summer of '69" blared throughout the minibus.  And I stepped back from myself and looked around, at myself and our situation, and just had to laugh.

We were heading towards the Ende of the earth, in a cramped minibus with a suicidal driver, on one of the most isolated parts of the planet, and Bryan Adams was coming out of the speakers

We did make it to Ende.  We made it down to the southern coast of the island, then wound along the cliffs until two volcanoes came into view.  Nestled underneath them was the port of Ende, the main Dutch colony on Flores.  It looked south, towards Australia. 

Our drivers were nice enough to drop us off right at our hotel, which was nice since we had no idea where we were.  Our guidebook doesn't give us maps of cities on this island.  Probably because no one comes here.  The hotel was nice enough.  We splurged on the luxury suite.  It was $9 and had a cold shower.  The shower was worth it. 

We planned to head out in the early afternoon to walk around town a little.  It started raining.  Our hotel owner didn't seem to think the rain existed.  Don't worry, it's dry season, he assured us.  That didn't change the fact that it had been raining for two days.  But it did clear up eventually and we walked down towards the beach.

There were a lot of locals out wandering around.  I'm pretty sure every single one of them stopped to greet us.  Guys on motorbikes literally pulled off the road to say hi to us.  There was quite a bit of honking.  The general greeting was "Hello mister."  This could apply to either one of us.  Occasionally a rare Endian would say "Hello mister, miss."  It was kind of fun.  We did find the beach.  It was dirty and had some strange looking worms crawling all over it.  A gaggle of very dirty children and their caretaker got out of the water to exchange a few pleasantries and stare a lot.  It was a nice view of the double volcano. 

On the way back our hotel owner saw us on the road and gave us a lift in his car.  It was brand new and very shiny.  That was about the extent of our Ende tour.  Only two more hours and we'll be in Moni!

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