Roti & Seba, Indo.
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Darwin was our jumping off point from OZ and Indonesia would be our next stop.  Our new spinnaker paid for itself during a light wind passage.  Traveling in a six boat flotilla made us feel more secure as we sailed into a Muslim country.   While we were a bit nervous when we left, we experienced no real problems.   The people we encountered have been very welcoming.










On Roti, our first stop in Indonesia,  we were the guests of honor at a children’s dance competition.  This is when we first noticed a big culture change.  The music of gongs, chanting, and the costumes had changed dramatically from anything we have seen in the South Pacific.











As mariner's, we were particularly interested in the variety of boats we encountered.  On Roti, they are still building fishing boats the same way they have for a hundred years - no power tools and no metal fasteners.  Much of the vessel is hewn with an adze to shave the planks.  The boats are painted in bright colors with a variety of flags to indicate which fishing fleet they belong to.  









We also went through dozens to hundreds of smaller one-person fishing boats that reminded us of the good times we had sailing/racing Hobie Cats.  These vessels are Lateen-rigged trimarans that look quite rickety close up.  But, we often encountered these vessels 40-50nm offshore and often at night.  They move much quicker than we expected, often making it a challenge to thread our way through the fleet.  Also, they believe that they can rid themselves of bad spirits if they sail directly at another vessel as fast as they can and then turn away at the last moment.  This led to some heart-stopping moments at first but we quickly discovered that if we pointed our bows at them before they pointed theirs at us, they passed by us at a safe distance.  Guess they didn't want our bad spirits.


At the next island, we had wanted to find and view an animist village.  We had an obscure reference in a cruising note to a teacher that spoke some English and could take us there.  We walked through town asking at a lot of places but couldn’t get any information.  Lots of people misunderstood us and helped us with things we weren’t asking for.  We found someone somewhere that knew of someone else somewhere else that might know about the teacher.  So, Jeff ended up on the back of this guy’s motor scooter and disappeared with him.   A long time later we started wondering what happened to him.  But, he returned with a teacher that could help us.  We also inherited another “guide” and headed down a dirt path.  A short while later, a heard of water buffalo came down the path guided by a “guy who herds  water buffalo” (don’t know what to call him) in one of those pointy round hats that you see in the rice paddies. 


We finally arrived in the animist village.  They still have elders that speak to spirits.  Very interesting people (we’ll get the pictures on the website when we have access).  We were asked to share betel nut with them.  Betel nut is considered the Peacemaker.  You chew on a piece of betel nut, dip this green plant called siri into a white powder (lime) and chew without swallowing.  First your mouth, teeth and tongue turn red.  Then everything starts going numb, and you start drooling which you are supposed to just let roll out of your mouth.  If you make it this far you probably have not started gagging due to the awful taste.  Whatever you do, don’t swallow.  After all this, they warn you to be careful when you talk not to bite your tongue.  Who knows what all this does to you.  We did notice that most of the adults in the village had very red teeth and mouths and walk around constantly chewing something.  Gail and Teri looked like mad dogs.


From Seba, we headed for Rinca, home of the famed Komodo Dragons.