Losmen Surya, Wakai
The hotel gave us a friendly send off and we left Tentana on the SV Anti Sari two hours after the scheduled departure time. Apart from the cabin being a sweat box, the journey was fine as we chatted with our Dutch fellow travellers.
The first words spoken to us upon disembarking were,”Welcome to Wakai.” Then the tall gentleman introduced himself as the recipient of an introductory letter from Amir. He took us to meet a policeman who wrote down our passport particulars. He assumed we were all German.
We were then processed to the Losmen Surya, sat upon the verandah to be gawked at by sundry villagers. Our need for a drink, a pee and a mandi were ignored for the requisite period, and then we asked for and were given permission.
Mr. Suriadi, proprietor of the losmen and the store next door, owns a satellite dish and two televisions. The black and white one which is for townsfolk to watch is in a waterproof box outside, and the colour one is indoors in the main room. You have to be invited in to watch that one, but we were expected to stay in our rooms, off the main room.
The electricity is provided by a diesel generator which, we were told, gets switched off at the end of the night’s viewing. In practice, though, it rumbled through our restless sleep until 6am.
Wakai is a small coastal town and maybe 2,000 people live on the island, along with 12 police and a small military garrison. Mangroves have been cut back, but to avoid the tides which leave much of the coast as a quagmire, most of the houses are built on stilts.
Some 200 university students were visiting the island. At a cost of Rp.1 million, they had erected a small clock tower which we presumed enabled the population to organise their daily activities around the TV schedules. The students had also contributed to the island’s development by erecting some fences, cutting some grass and giving ‘lectures’ about university life.
They looked smart in their yellow jackets and baseball caps.
Photo fr. Jacques