17 August 2007

Maumere, Flores

Anchored at Maumere
Palau Flores
East Nusa Tenggara

Greetings all!

We arrived at the Maumere anchorage just at sunset on Thursday the 16th. We had quite a beat into the wind and waves the last few miles, even digging the bow under water.

Upon arrival we had the pleasant experience of trying to find a place to anchor in an unfriendly anchorage. The anchorage itself has a section of relatively good depths of 30-40 feet. But then it drops off to over 100 feet. Many of the boats already anchored were in the shallow area. So it seemed we were going to have to anchor in the deep water, which the Sandpiper doesn't like.

After cruising the anchorage and loosing sunlight, we decided to go up in front of the fleet and anchor in 7 feet of water. Our neighbor behind us didn't like this and told us "If anything happens, it will be your fault." Since we weren't feeling too welcome in this neighborhood we decided the next morning we would try to find another spot. But moving in the dark was out of the question. So the next morning we pulled up the anchor and set out to prowl the anchorage yet again.

Upon finding a spot we thought we liked, we again encountered unfriendly neighbors. Their first mate actually set up a lounge chair on deck, with her arms folded across her chest, watched us anchor not once, but three times. Our initial plan was to get the anchor set and join the town in celebrating their Independence Day. But after such a hostile anchorage we decided it was best not to stay around here too long.

We are currently having problems with our heat exchanger. It has a hole. In order for us to work on it, the engine must be taken apart. So if we should have any troubles in the anchorage , then we wouldn't have a motor to get ourselves out of trouble. So it was very important we be in a safe spot.

After breakfast we decided to move yet again, this time between our friends on Shiraz and Uterus. If we are going to be close to someone, then it might as well be a friend. Not sure if your counting, but this makes a grand total of anchoring 7 times for the Piper. Not cool!

After finally feeling secure with the latest anchorage,and figuring out we can't fix the heat exchanger, we made it into the town of Maumere. The town was closed up as it is Independence Day. But we did find an internet cafe with an extremely slow connection.

We went back to the anchorage after running into our friends from Uterus who had set us up for a private tour to Kelimutu and Sikka.

The following night was the gala dinner and welcoming ceremony. The food was awful. But the entertainment was, I think, the best so far in the rally. There were many different local groups performing dances and music that really got the crowd going.

The night before we met a group of folks from all over the world (Africa, England, Philippines). We found out that they are with a volunteer organization similar to Peace Corps, all involved with different aspects of government. Leonard is from Kenya and has never been on a boat before. So we invited him to join us earlier that day and took him aboard both Sandpiper and Shiraz for a look at the boats. He joined us for the Gala as well. Meeting Leonard was a pleasant addition to our Maumere visit. We hope to reconnect with him when Team Sandpiper travels to Africa.

Sunday morning at 4am we were in our guide John's car and off for the 3.5 hour drive up the mountain to Kelimutu. The colored lakes of Kelimutu are quite a site here and had been on my list to explore for some time. The three lakes are set in deep craters near the summit of Kelimutu volcano. The lakes have a habit of changing color, and no-one has managed to explain the cause of the colors, or why they change. There is a story among the locals that the souls of the dead go to these lakes; young people's souls go to the turquoise lake, old people's souls go to the brown lake, and those of thieves and murderers go to the black lake.

The turquoise lake, being the most brilliant of colors, was well worth the 3am wake up. On the way down from the lakes we stopped to take pictures of the well engineered, tranquil, rice fields.

We also stopped at the town of Sikka. This town is known for the ikat weavings. Upon pulling into town all of the women came scurrying out of their homes to show us not only the procedure, but of course the beautiful intricate weavings. Ikat weaving can take anywhere from 3 months to years, depending on the motifs, number of dyes, and size.

It is customary to bargain here, which I have a hard time doing since it seems these weaving are worth the entire amount asked. This can be anywhere between $7 to many hundreds of dollars.

Monday morning we plan to get out of town as fast as we can and ditch the rally for awhile. There are many stops that the rally doesn't have that we would like to explore. So stay tuned for more.

Love to all,
Amy and Tom

Notes From Ron:

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