Trying to leave
After Peggy and Gene had flown off to Bali, we got a little bored so we tried, and failed, to leave as well. For Rp.6,500 we could take a Perintis ‘cargo’ boat to Ambon, so we booked tickets and checked out of Man’s homestay.
The boat didn’t arrive on time, whatever the expected time was – 2pm, 6pm, belum tahu, mister.
Come 11pm, after waiting in a homestay near the harbour drinking a few beers and cokes, we managed to find a room for the night elsewhere, albeit at an outrageous, for Banda and the room, price. It had a double bed with two mattresses so I took one and put it on the floor.
Around 2am, the locked door against which my mattress was pressed blew open and I woke up a foot away from where I’d been. Our night’s residence had a view of Gunung Api, which we didn’t get around to climbing, opposite and the harbour it sheltered. Apparently this wind reached 200kph (120mph), the like of which I’ve never before experienced, having slept through 1987’s Great Hurricane of England.
The next morning we decided to either wait for the Rinjani to return or try for a Merpati flight. The flight could be problematic because King Des Alwi had a habit of block booking flights for his hotel’s guests. (Thought: is that how Princess Di and Mick Jagger arrived?)
We cashed in our ticket’s and checked into Man’s again and set off for a walk around the island. Shortly after strolling across the the airport’s short runway which traverses the island clifftop to clifftop, and noting the only signs of life, a couple of cows grazing contentedly, we espied the ship chugging towards us, finished our circumnavigation, and met it at the harbour.
Sam went on board to check out the facilities and came back to describe them as horrifying, stinking of puke and animals, so we were glad to have now opted for alternative arrangements.
Later, in Ambon, we met Suzanne, an architect whose camera had been stolen on Pulai Ai, and Gertnod, a psychologist, both from Vienna (where else?), who did board the boat. They told us that although the cargo was human the conditions were for cattle, and that the 19 scheduled hours (compared to just 8 for the Rinjani) had taken 30. The engines had broken down.
It being a Thursday, we flew out on a ‘special’, Merpati flight at a cost of Rp.97,000 each, and were glad.