Thursday, January 4, 2018

What Sorong with you?

Insert collective groan here. Nope, not hitting the bottle early, though as they say 'It's 5 o'clock somewhere.' Just a little slap-happy waiting around in Sorong for our visas to be ready. Immigration opens again on the Thursday after New Year's, so today should be the Big Day. Unless it isn't (because it's Indonesia and you never know).
4 boatloads of kids at Sapta Ratna Pagoda
As we hear about the subzero temperatures in Chicago and elsewhere around the U.S., we're trying hard to appreciate the blistering, foot scalding Indonesian sun. But you know it's hot when the locals complain that it's hot. This is in a place with a perpetual summer that hardly ever gets below 80 °F (26 °C), yet the Department Stores are filled with jeans, sweaters and hoodies.

Sapta Ratna Pagoda
This time of year especially, I feel the distance of family and friends that we have left on the other side of the world. As we start our sixth year of cruising, we're miles away from land life in the States, both literally and figuratively.

Goat on Doom Island
I've written before how routine errands are a much bigger deal than on land. Even in a place like Sorong, which is one of the biggest cities we have been in over the past year and has relatively convenient stores, there have been challenges. Diesel is inexpensive because it is subsidized by the government but generally foreigners are not allowed to buy it directly. So you have take your chances with a local middleman, which can be a Russian roulette of dirty fuel and usually involves hauling jerry jugs across the anchorage in multiple trips. This last time, we took a special trip to Waisai to get fuel at the marina. We enjoyed the trip, but in a boat it involved a couple extra days of motoring.

One of the reasons we have decided to go to Darwin to fix the bent propeller strut (and possibly shaft) is the difficulty of bringing in parts. The bureaucracy involved with importing parts means you're risking your package in Customs purgatory indefinitely, paying 30% tax, or paying out the ears to a local agent. Although Australia is far from a bureaucracy-free Shangri-La, Indonesia makes it seem so.

Indonesia, more than any other country we have visited so far, seems foreign. Most of the other dozens of countries we have visited have had a familiarity for us--a language that we had experience with, a majority Christian culture. From the local perspective, we stick out like a sore thumb. A Caucasian guy with an Asian wife and half-Asian kids--they don't know what to make of us. When I'm on my own, people assume I speak Indonesian and yet they think I look out of place too, so I'm not exempted from the selfie requests from locals.

We have been reveling in the new sights, sounds and tastes. People are extremely friendly. But we certainly don't feel like we belong here. These new experiences are what we sought when we went cruising, but they are also what make us seem far away from our former lives.

Not wanting to burn too much of the hard-gotten diesel we had just purchased, we stuck around the Sorong area around New Year's to wait for our visa renewal, making one side trip to nearby Crocodile Island to desalinate water in a slightly cleaner place (we got to see dugongs there). We have also made some side treks to the limited local sights, including Sapta Ratna Pagoda and Doom Island.

Church at the top of the hill. Stainless steel
seems to be the accent material of choice,
including the cross.
No cars on Doom but lots of motorbikes
and passenger bicycles for hire
Local cemetery
The mosque.
A spontaneous drum parade
Of course we joined the parade
Although appropriate for the time of year, this
Santa art seems permanent

1 comment:

  1. Nothing ! What sarong with you ? Haha ... Good luck with the Visas !


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