Tuesday, September 3, 2013

YOLO in Banda Aug 2013

After Saumlaki, Banda Naira Island was our next stop.  It is a very steep anchorage and only one boat managed to find a place to anchor out.  We got within a boat length of shore and it was still 100' deep!  So we backed YOLO into the seawall and tied the bow off to a large ship buoy.  Yachts were snug and had to make room for the local boats to squeeze in and tie to their floats and the shore, too.  Luckily, a local boat moved out of our way so we could fit into a slot to get tied up.
Abba, our local guide and owner of a guesthouse on the island, acted as our interpreter, guide, and rally point man since the local government here hadn't put out any funds to deal with the rally.  Not like Saumlaki where the government sponsored food, drink, and activities and festivities as well as repairing the dingy dock and providing security for our dinghies while we were ashore.
Below, Abba is showing us the wall of an old Dutch fort from the 1600's.  The Dutch and British fought bloody wars over this tiny island as it is one of the few places that grows nutmeg and cloves and cinnamon.  The nutmeg, known as the golden fruit, was the cause of so much warlike activity when Europe was desperate for spices.
 This is one of the old nutmeg plantations that the Dutch got nutmeg from.  They wanted exclusive rights to buy the nutmeg, but the British just sailed up to the back side of the island and bought it out from under them.  Roll out the cannons!
 These are almonds in different stages of ripeness.  Almonds here aren't like the ones that grow on the beaches of the Caribbean.  The smooth black one has been eaten and pooped out by the local pidgeon, the best kind of almond to plant as the bird's digestive system enhances the chance that the seed will grow.
 The base of a huge 3-400-year-old almond tree on the plantation.
 The ammo store at the fort.  One of the few places we saw graffiti here.
 Approaching Banda from its eastern side, we saw the volcanic peak of Gunung Api through a saddle in the island of Banda Naira.
 Jason climbed Gunung Api and this was his view from the top of the volcano.
 A basket of almonds in a village.  They gather them and crack them open, peel them and use them for cooking.
 A local man returns from picking nutmeg on the plantation.  The red mace that surrounds the nutmeg seed is visible on many of the nutmegs and a few seeds have sprouted, so he carries them in his basket until he finds a place to plant them.  I love the basket, too.
 A woven tray of nutmegs sits in a yard drying.
 The rally yachts to the south of us, all tied to trees on shore.  Most dropped their anchors in about 90-100' and backed up to shore to hold them steady.
 A local boy with a precocious pose.  Rolling a tire with a stick is still a very popular game in Indonesia.  The motorcycle tires make a great sized toy.
 A stone statue carved by the dive master's father.  It now sits along the pathway through the dive center yard.
 Ciesar, of Dive Banda Naira.  He took us for 2 dives and wanted to have a BBQ in this yard but yachts were leaving for the next stop before he got it organized.
 A Chinese temple in downtown Banda Naira.
 A clove leaf on the plantation.  You can taste the clove if you bite the leaf where the stem connects to the branch.  The same with a cinnamon leaf, which looks pretty similar to this clove leaf.
 An earthquake a week before we arrived knocked down this section of a wall at the old Dutch fort.  Small earthquakes are pretty common here and folks don't seem to pay them much mind.
 A cow munching on a pile of discarded nutmeg husks--the golden things on the ground.
 Our dive boat at the dive shop steps.  YOLO is tied up just in front of the dive shop and the skinny local boat maneuvered its way between the rally yachts and under their lines tied to the shore trees to get in and out.
 Local dugout boats on the beach at Banda Besar, the island where the Dutch nutmeg plantation was that we toured.
 The gate into the old Dutch fort on Banda Besar.
 Festive street decorations in Banda Besar.  We reached Banda just at the end of Ramadan and the festivities ran for days.
  A local lady in traditional dress with a beautiful bouquet of flowers to put on display somewhere for a Ramadan celebration later.
 Fort Belgica on Banda Naira.  It was closed so we couldn't see inside when we walked up here.  It was only a few blocks from our boat.
 Another fort on the island, Fort Nassau.  It was mostly just the wall and gates.
 A view along the top of the old fort wall.  You can see people below on the right.
 A local man climbed a nutmeg tree and cut open a few of the fruits to show us.  The husks can be made into a liquor and we were told the oils from pressing parts of the nutmeg can be used to make Ecstacy.  The Chinese and Malaysians are getting into the nutmeg business big time now.
 A large Triton shell laying on the dark sand in the water next to YOLO.  The water here is about 15-20' deep.  So very clear even right next to shore with all the trash around.
 A girl cracking almonds open for us in a local village.  It takes a knack and just the right amount of pressure to crack the nutshell in two to extract the meat.  Too much and it just mushes the almond inside.
 A local girl gathering flowers to use for decoration and costumes for the Ramadan festivities later that night.
 Abba explaining the Muslim graves here. The tiny bottles sitting next to the post in the grave are said to contain dugong (like a manatee) tears.  All Muslim graves face Mecca and are easy to spot as many are tiled, like this one.
 The guard hut on the nutmeg plantation.  The nutmeg is the main source of income and is a huge money maker for the locals.  They don't want folks coming onto the property and taking the valuable fruit from the trees. Everyone wants to have nutmeg trees on their property.  Nutmeg trees used to be part of a good woman's dowry, too.
 A view of Gunung Api, the nearly symmetrical volcano.  It last erupted in 1997 and is dormant but still has warm spots and steam vents that Jason noted on his climb.

Abba explaining to Helane off of Velella III about the cinnamon bark on the tree.

 Helane, Peter, Karen, Hugh and Katie at Abba's guesthouse, Mutiara, for a dinner.  The two couples flanking me are both off of Australian boats in the Sail Indonesia Rally.  This guesthouse was full of artifacts from the Dutch occupation of the island back in the 1600-1700s and was like a mini museum.  Kids still find coins with the VOC emblem on them and sell them to Abba for his collection.  Shards of Dutch and Chinese porcelain are scattered all over the old plantations, too, and are yours for the taking if you just pick them up.  Only complete plates and vessels seem to be worth collecting here.
 A rest to have cinnamon tea during our plantation tour.
 Jason talking to Jake off of Hokule'a as we motored in a local boat to the next island for the plantation tour.
 Jason is taller than every Indonesian we've seen.  He'd have to duck his head to go through the door to this toilet at a hotel.
 Jason trying on the wetsuit for the dives we took in Banda.
 Karen at the statue of a nutmeg at the airport.  No people or planes were around when we walked to the airport runway; it was just a good exercise.
 Karen at the base of a huge almond tree on the Dutch nutmeg plantation.

If you look closely or zoom this, you'll see a kid/baby goat lazing on the head of this grave. 
 Three local boys playing in a small dugout canoe.  No paddle and two of them had to bail constantly while the other one paddled with his hands.  These guys were jumping out of the tree into the water between YOLO and shore, too.
 A kora kora, a traditional racing canoe under its cover in Banda Besar.  Each village has their own canoe and their racing is taken seriously here.  Thirty-seven (37) men are in this canoe when it is racing!
 The bow of the kora kora with its shark symbol painted onto the colors of the village.
 Twin lambs asleep in the sunlight on some grass in town.
 A local boat as it comes in to dock.  It actually poked its bow into the window of the boat already at the dock and cracked a thin piece of wood acting as a window shade.  Oh well.
 The local man who climbed the nutmeg tree to cut a few fruit for us to see.
 The local community center on Banda Besar.  It was closed now; they open it to officially "open" the community with ceremonies and such, but this wasn't one of those times.
 A local village where the girl was cracking almonds for us.  The tall-legged scrawny chicken in the center caught my eye, but his long spindly legs are hard to see in this picture.  No meaty drumsticks on these chickens.
 Jason's view from the top of the volcano, Gunung Api.
 Nutmeg and mace sitting out in the sun to dry.
 Local ladies making rice packets for Ramadan dinner celebrations later.  They are wrapping sticky rice in banana leaves.
 Men dipping water from the sacred well on Banda Nesar.  The well is shaped like the head of a cat because someone once spotted a wet cat and realized there must be water nearby and discovered the well.  The men cart the water to nearby homes for a small fee.  The water is supposed to be pure and delicious, but we didn't try it.  The level of the water also seems to fluctuate with the tide, so we left them to it.  A new well, lined in concrete, just behind the guy on the left is ignored by the locals who continue to want to use the original 'sacred' well.
 Nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and limes for sale where we had our cinnamon tea break.  I bought a bag of cloves and split it with another cruiser and its still more than I'll ever use in my lifetime.  All for about $3.
 An old Dutch arch that leads to a garden on Banda Nesar.
 Old Dutch cannons lust laying along the streets in Banda Naira.  The old Dutch forts had lots of the cannons and the ships that came and went and sunk also carried cannons.  Somehow the locals got these cannon to shore and they just sit along the street now, too heavy to move anywhere.
 Our dinner buffet at Mutiara guesthouse on Banda Naira.  Abba's wife is the cook and she did a wonderful job!  A grilled fish, coconut and regular rice, several salads, a satay dish and some others I forget.
 Two local boys who led us across the village and most of the way to the airport before they got bored leading us and went back home.
 View of Banda Naira town from the rooftop of a hotel,
 View of rally boats tied to the seawall in Banda.
 The island of Run.  A boring picture, but the history of this island is curious.  It was eventually traded for Manhattan!  One square block of modern Manhattan is probably worth more than this entire island, now.
 The sacred cave on Banda Nesar.  Each village family contributes something to the spirit of the cave each year when the village is 'opened'.  People put rice, bananas, valuables, etc. in there in hopes that the spirits will bring them a prosperous next year and to thank the spirits for a good year gone by.  We weren't allowed in there.
 The shiny silver domes of a mosque in Banda Nesar.  The end of Ramadan found lots of folks cleaning and putting on a new coat of paint for the new year.  These domes could be seen for miles in the sun, glinting brightly.
 YOLO tied stern to in Banda Naira with Gunung Api volcano in front of us.
 YOLO tied stern to at Banda Naira with other rally yachts.
 YOLO's stern anchor tied to a tree ashore.  We had to tie two dock lines together to reach the tree, but it was the most solid thing available to tie to and was used by all the local yachts, too.  This was the tree the kids jumped out of into the water.  The water got very deep very fast here, so it was OK to jump into it.

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