Sunday afternoon at Ohoililir Beach on Kai Kecil in the Kai Islands and the pondoks, or parapara, are filled with local people from the town enjoying their Sunday off. Pondoks are wooden platforms raised about two feet up from the sand measuring about 8 feet by 8 feet with a corrugated iron roof holding an entire family with ease and providing adequate shelter from the sun or rain. They stretch the entire length of the two-mile beach side by side and throughout the week are completely deserted. There are refreshment and snack bars dotted here and there and the warm blue/green waters attract everyone, young and old, for a splash or a swim. Interesting to see the happy mix of religions and it is not unusual to see a young hijab clad young woman ambling along the sand holding hands with her female friend in short shorts. Bob, the manager here at Coaster Cottages, is performing routine maintenance, spreading sand on the steep steps up to the rooms and replacing a few blown lamps. This actually is a ruse and what he is actually doing is keeping the, shall we say, less desirable elements from stealing items from his business. A large group of women, of all ages, came to a nearby Pondok and started singing what I can only assume were traditional songs with perfect pitch, harmonies and in tune. It sounded to my ignorant ear distinctly Polynesian, not that I have ever been to Polynesia. The singing only lasted a short while, ending up with the Happy Birthday song, in English! As people move up and down the beach they spot me up here on my balcony, wave and utter the familiar greeting “hello Mister” I wave back. Large black and white butterflies flit between the coconut trees; the waves lap on the intensely white sand and the sound of laughter permeates the air. It is all rather perfect.
The Kai Islands, situated in the Eastern part of Muluku, Indonesia, are actually nearer Australia than the Capital, Jakarta and feel like the end of the world. The main city on the island, Langgur, has a busy port, an airport with connections to Ambon three times a day, a thriving, bustling atmosphere and wide, well paved roads to the outlying parts of the island. It also boasts a speedy Internet connection via undersea cable which unfortunately does not extend here to Ohoililir where there isn’t even cell phone service, thereby enforcing a compulsory ‘digital detox’ on yours sincerely. It’s not too painful, I can always get a ride into town to exchange messages with friends and family, but I do miss perusing the news sites in the mornings. On arrival at the airport I was encouraged to sign the visitor’s book and noticed that I was #145, that is this year, 2018, not many Westerners therefore, in fact there are currently five! A Hungarian, one Spanish, two Germans and me. We got together a day or so ago and hired a small boat to take us around the nearer islands, Ngaf, Er and Ngodan, there was much snorkeling over the reefs, we chased a school of dolphins, got wet, and marveled at the tiny white sand, uninhabited, islands with their jungle interiors. Truly Robinson Crusoe.
(I tried to upload at this point, I failed so will continue)
Did I tell you about the weather or the trash? When it rains it pours. Quite honestly I have lived through strong Pacific storms that wreak havoc on the California Coast, mudslides, widespread flooding, headline news for many days, also Force ten, eleven and twelve storms in Orkney but those pale against the rain here. The thunderclouds line up on the horizon like invading armies, impossibly high and come ashore in a tumult. It is truly a deluge and the noise is deafening as the drops hit the corrugated iron roofs. It can last up to an hour but on occasion will last all day or night.
Then there is the trash, garbage, rubbish, call it what you will but it really is shocking. I went out on another boat ride to Snake Island, so called for the huge sand spit that stretches out from the coast for about a mile, only visible at low tide obviously. In passing let me say that six hours in a small boat, open to the elements, in somewhat stormy seas was a challenge. We almost had what in the UK is called a sense of humour failure! It was as if someone threw a large bucket of warm water over me every five seconds. I have never, ever been so wet. I digress, sorry; we stopped for lunch at everyone’s idea of a deserted tropical island, coconut palms, colorful birds and butterflies, and the whitest, whitest sand you ever did see. A picture postcard type scene. But, after the recent full moon high tides the strandline was high up, almost inland, and was an appalling collection of plastic bottles, old shoes, polystyrene packaging, fishing nets, diapers (nappies) and just general trash. So upsetting and certainly avoidable with just a tiny bit of education but no, doesn’t happen. The ocean is a garbage dump and it is on every beach I visited in the Kai Islands. There were miniature garbage islands forming in the open sea between the islands similar to the extensive and infamous ‘Pacific Garbage Patch’ and the new one recently discovered in the Caribbean. There was talk around the dinner table of Crowdfunding one of those devices that turns plastic waste into pellets for road building or even houses. Some local people try to burn the waste with the resulting toxic fumes that surely is not the answer. I am aware of devices being developed that scoop up plastic waste but it is early days and expensive. There you go younger generation, a legacy of my generation, so sorry. See what you can do…
At some point I would like to explain where I have been since the previous blog from Bukhara in Uzbekistan. Seems a while ago but there are lots of stories to tell.
In the meantime I am heading for Biak in North Papua. More from there.
Trying for the artistic photo.
My beach, Ohoililir on Kai Kecil, Kai Islands
That is a dolphin though you might have to look closely!
Colorful fishermen’s houses in Naggur, Kai Islands.
Writing blog on computer in a pondok.
The sand spit on Snake island.
Sand spit and tiny boat.
A typical island.
Grocery store on a scooter.
I think this is self explanatory!