Wednesday, August 17, 2011

tWe have had the most interesting, exciting and fun filled two days, it has been a blast. Yesterday in the morning we went for a tour of a seaweed farm. Tour is not quite the correct word because it was more like a family visit. One of the guides befriended us and offered to take us to visit her husbands family who lived in a village a ways north of town and were seaweed farmers. We jumped at the chance, rented a motorbike again and off we went. One the way we stopped to watch a pair of gentlemen shape the prow of a traditional boat, they did it by hand with very elementary axes and hatchets, all by eye. There was a little girl there, she may have been about three and she was busy cutting up a lime with this huge knife. Her younger brother, just barely walking had a hatchet taken away from him and he was very mad!!! Ade‘s (the guide) family make their living seaweed farming, fishing and selling sand from their ocean front property. The seaweed grows on long lines that are strung in the water with little pieces of Styrofoam to hold them up, you apparently need good moving water for the seaweed to grow and now is not the best season for growth because the sea is too hot, it is better from Nov.. to March. We were able to watch as they brought some seaweed in , there was a huge pile of it all attached to lines. A father and his son had brought it in a huge pile of it and then the mother and all the daughters stripped the seaweed off, fertilized it and then restrung the healthy seaweed back on the line so it would grow some more. We were told it would take a month before it would be ready to harvest again. The seaweed that was not going to grow again would be put out on long platforms to dry and it would be sold. It is necessary to turn the seaweed over in order for it to dry uniformly. Not a way I would choose to make a living.
Then we got to go for a boat ride in a very narrow, tipsy local boat. It had a very temperamental motor and there was paddling involved as well. Barry and I sat in the middle of the boat and tried not to fall out. The boat would seem to wobble at will and at one point Barry accused me of trying to tip it but honestly I was sitting as still as I could. We stopped and the fellow in the front hopped out and swam around until he found his fish traps and he swam down to get them, from a squatting position he quickly stood up and then just jumped up and over the edge. When he got back in, the boat hardly wobbled, it was amazing. The fish traps are all made by hand with traditional materials.When we got ashore Barry told them he would like to buy an old paddle, they were a bit mistified by the request but they found one, it used to be our guides husbands when he was a little kid. Barry was pleased as punch to get it and told them that everytime we looked at it we would remember them. To finish off an incredible morning we stopped at the guide’s sister-in-laws house and she peeled some fresh bananas and fried us up some delicious banana chips. She was expecting so it was okay for her to eat during Ramadan and the children were able to snack as well so we didn’t feel so bad about eating in front of them.
We had signed up at the gala welcoming ceremony for a free dive to celebrate Independence Day and we were told that we would be picked up at 4:00 in order to participate. We were in the process of thinking about getting ready at 3:10 when we were called and told our ride was here. Rush, rush, rush and off we went. It was incredible. There were over 40 divers there from all over Indonesia and we were the only white folks in evidence. The plan was that they would raise the flag underwater and they had a huge rectangular grid that had three levels. Divers hung on to the grid and an underwater microphone shouted out directions and the ceremony in Indonesian. We just followed suit, saluting when they did and smiling when the underwater photographer came by. Once the official rehearsal was over with we swam around and marveled at the gorgeous coral. This morning, Aug. 17th being Indonesian Independence Day, we were driven off to the real thing, once again without a cost to us. We got there and all the divers had kerchiefs on with the red and white colours of the Indonesian flag. The officials were in place and we were given a Canadian flag, Barry actually carried the Australian flag because there were no Aussies that chose to participate, man did they miss out!! The male officials sat on one side, their wives on the other. The women were dressed exquisitely, one in particular had a beautiful pink dress on with a veil and over top was a bright lime green garment with intricate lace, she really smiled when I told her that she looked very beautiful. Everyone wanted a photo with us, the divers, the military guys and the head dude and his wife, they all shook our hands as well, it was something I WILL NEVER FORGET!!
We are pretty tired because last night after the diving rehearsal there was a cultural dance presentation. It was so much fun, Barry was invited up to dance and he did his Fiji moves and everyone killed themselves laughing, what a hoot. The Indonesian crowd got into it as well and everyone was having so much fun. We did not get back to the boat until 2230 hours. Tonight apparently we are invited to dinner at the head dude’s house, at 8:00 P.M. I must go and have something to eat, it is almost 5:00 P.M. or I will die of hunger if I have to wait until 8.

Make sure you check out the blog just before this one because I posted 2 at once.