Monday, February 27, 2012

Lombok Wonderland

The old fisherman snatches my sunglasses. Then my hat. He paws my bag, "Open it." His eyes are faded, cloudy, blueing; his skin shrivelled. He wears a skimpy white wife-beater. "To my house," he growls.
It's midday and the hamlet is idle. Men smoke in shadows. New-born chicks cheep and a snuggle of puppies sleeps. On a raised wooden platform the old man's granddaughters watch dance music videos on a mobile phone; their dark-haired heads close together. The volume is loud, the va-va-voom distorted.
"We have no work, no money. We're poor," says the father of the girls.

Before us is a pretty crescent bay ringed by wooded hills and farmland. A single surfer plays the waves.
"What do you grow here?"
"Corn, rice, chillies, peanuts."
"Are there fish in the bay?"
"Lots. And crabs."
Another man leafs through my paperback Alice in Wonderland. The children stare at Tenniel's illustration of the Mock Turtle. "Is your country better than ours?" someone asks. The old patriarch puts on my hat and stalks away. The others laugh. "He likes bringing foreigners here, even though he can't speak English."

The children follow me to the beach. We draw pictures in the shore and they squeak as the waves erase the art. Santi buries her feet in the sand, Ayu looks skeptical, and nine-year-old Rena asks questions. "Can you swim? I can't."
"Are there beaches over there?" Rena asks.
"Over where?"
She gestures beyond the hillside boundary of the bay. I tell her there are lots of beaches on the island, and on Bali, on Sumatra, on Sulawesi...
"Have you been there?"
"Yes."
"Do they have fish too?"
The sun is hard overhead. We wander around the wooden fishing boats pulled up on the sand. Litter wobbles in the water at our feet. "What's Gerupuk like?" Rena wonders.

Gerupuk is a fishing village a few kilometres east. "Well, there is a paved road, and lots of houses and motorbikes and cows. There are wooden boats like these and the bay is full of floating lobster houses." Rena squints up through her fringe. Floating lobster houses: very Alice.

Rena tells me her favourite school subjects are dancing and sports.
"What kind of sports?"
"Running and jumping jacks," she giggles, arms out like a starfish.
I ask about the sleeping puppies.
"The village has a lot of dogs. We throw away the puppies we don't want."
"Where do you throw them?"
She points to the curve of low green hills cupping Mawun Bay. "There, in the mountains."

3 comments:

  1. I haven't made it to Lombok yet but it looks fabulous.

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  2. Hey, there. Maybe http://www.jakpost.travel could be a good recommendation for you to find and explore another interesting destinations in Indonesia :)

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