Tuesday, 30 June 2015

1st July - WINDY Waisai - Raja Ampat - Papua

Wednesday 1st July 2015

Snakefruit - very pretty but not very yummy...
Yesterday we decided to walk into Waisai along the coast road, maybe 3 kilometres or so.  Mad dogs and Englishmen…  It was very hot and sunny and although there were tall trees and vines lining the road, there didn’t seem to be any shade at all.

We followed a group of young chaps nicely attired for the heat of the day and for a fairly long wall… They were wearing hoodies and big yellow gumboots.  I felt faint with heat at the very sight of them and had to take a big swig from my water bottle.

There were some lovely looking new resorts along the road, but everything is closed at the moment – wrong season.

About halfway into Waisai we were able to walk along a new concrete track right on the coastline.  Much shadier!  But totally mystifying – why all the concrete?  And the large concrete block walls being built along the reef?

Pete was fascinated by the huge caterpillar digger; I think he was really hoping to get an opportunity to drive it around, picking up big concrete blocks and swinging them around in the air.

I was more intrigued by the groups of children, playing happily in the rubble.

When we got into town Pete got on a motorbike and went off to explore the possibilities of fuel purchase and delivery.  No luck today…he has to go back on Thursday.  I arranged to meet him at our favourite restaurant

but on the way I was attracted into the Randy Salon & Bridal.  My hair was in dire straits…I had had a bit of a go at cutting it myself but this was not what anyone would call a success. 

The young girl sitting in the otherwise empty salon showed me a poster and asked me to choose a hairstyle…

None of these hairstyles looked yacht-proof...
Well…I felt like the dumpy older woman in Educating Rita, who comes in, looking grim, with a photo of a radiant young Lady Diana Spencer, saying “This is how I want to look.”  So I said, in my best Bahasa, that I just wanted A LITTLE BIT cut off.  Please. 

After a little while my hairstylist du jour came out.  

She didn’t speak one word of English, or one word of anything, for the duration of the cutting process.  I was more than a bit dubious – how many BAD BAD haircuts have I had, here and there - Port Vila, Bicheno, Melbourne -  which have left me sobbing under a large hat??  She got out a razor and started while I winced faintly and tried not to look too terrified.  In the end it was all fine.  I managed to stop her from chopping a huge amount off my fringe, which would have made me sob, and we parted on very happy terms.  Her young grandsons had arrived to watch, with great interest.   I paid my not very exorbitant fee ($4.50…) and took a nice photo of The Team.

We walked home again, once again with not much shade, and as soon as we stepped onto 2XS, I put on my swimming clothes and plunged into the sea.  There is a little reef close by, with a fishfarm pontoon anchored to it, so I headed in that direction, without any great expectations.  To my delight, it was (mostly) very lovely, with quite a lot of coral, and some big clouds of beautiful small fish.  I also saw a very big sea snake, maybe 1.5 metres, and quite thick – black and white striped, with blue detail around its head.  Yes I know sea snakes are extremely poisonous.  BUT they have very small mouths and are not in the least aggressive.  Unless you actually attack one and try to poke a small body part into its mouth – maybe your earlobe, says J. Maarten Troost (read his travel books – great fun!) – or a particularly small pinkie finger, they will not hurt you.

Visitors to the boat today…Well the first one was Johnson, a Polisi officer, who had come to investigate the thefts on board 2XS – John’s fancy black torch, two masks, two snorkels, and a large bottle of shampoo.  This isn’t crime on a large scale, but Fikri, the tourism officer Pete has befriended, thought we should report it, and that the police should make a bit of a fuss, to discourage others with similar intentions.  Johnson was lovely.  He shook his head in disgust and disbelief when we told him what was missing, and he very loudly told everyone he met along the pontoon that Things Were Missing and that the police were Onto It.

In the afternoon, when I had just come out from my swim and was on the deck with  my head covered in shampoo, when on leapt a very enthusiastic Mey, closely followed by her seven year old daughter Eca and her sister-in-law Fony.  

Mey and Eca
I gave them some afternoon tea, printed off some photos for them (I AM SO HAPPYYYY! shouted Mey, who was a wildly enthusiastic young woman) and then, with a teensy bit of encouragement, off they went.  (There’s only so much nodding, smiling, showing of photos on iPads, printing of photos on Selphy, that one can reasonably be expected to do.)

Pete and Fony
Last visitor of the day, invited and expected, was Fikri from the Tourism Department.  He is a delightful bloke, with a radiant perfect smile – no betel nut chewing for him!  I took a few photos but…photos are a SERIOUS affair. Apparently…  Fikri speaks excellent English and we bombarded him with questions.  Why so much infrastructure in Waisai – eg large concrete parkland, full of beautiful toilets, finished but lacking water and therefore…yucko, deserted kiosks, enormous concrete dolphins, already broken but not completed.  Well…Waisai gets a huge government grant to encourage tourism, with the Raja Ampat sailing rally as its centerpiece.  (I think there are a maximum of 25 boats in the rally…)  He also explained about the concrete works along the reef – it is a breakwater, to prevent erosion. 

Pete and Fikri
Last night was not very pleasant.  It blew, as Pete would say, like a bastard, so it was very noisy.  But we were also worried about poor 2XS, tugging away rather too enthusiastically on the mooring lines.  We got up several times to attach yet more ropes – it now looks as if 2XS is tethered to the pontoon with a big strong spider web!  If we take off to sea, we will be taking the whole marina plus boats with us…(No of course this isn’t even a possibility, but in the dark early hours I managed to do a whole lot of useless catastrophising.)

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