Friday, November 8, 2013

YOLO in Wakatobi, Aug 2013

I had seen photos of Wakatobi in the dive magazines and it looked stunning; I was looking forward to seeing this beautiful jewel in the blue sea.  The reality of the Wakatobi that we saw was quite different; the photo must have been taken at one of the other islands that make up Wakatobi.  Wakatobi is a combination of the first two letters of four major islands that make up the area: Wangi Wangi, Kaledupa, Tomia, and Binongko. 
The village we arrived at was Wanci and the designated anchorage was in the shallow enclosed lagoon.  The channel into the lagoon was barely wide enough for the catamarans and the boats needed the best part of a tide level to get in.
Gino, the local Sail Indonesia contact, took the helm and piloted us into the lagoon in Wakatobi. This was early morning with the sun in our eyes, so we were quite relieved when we got through the channel without scraping sides or bottom!
This was the view off the sides as we came through the channel into the lagoon at Wakatobi.  Doesn't look deep enough to bring a boat through does it?
YOLO safely in the lagoon at Wakatobi.
Coming across from Banda, we ran into a debris field of trees, logs, branches and timber that was scattered with a table, chair and some plastic containers.  It stretched along a line for quite a way and we had to dodge a few big chunks of wood for a few hours.  Another catamaran wasn't so lucky and struck a big log and it took a big chunk out of one of their bows--ouch.  They weren't taking on water so they will wait until they reach somewhere to haul out to make repairs.
A derelict boat near the dock at Wakatobi.  Note the plank as folks still must use it for something, even if just to get to the boats on either side of it.  I think the blue boat on the right is the fuel tanker that was offloading diesel fuel with a long hose.  Wakatobi gave every yacht that showed up 200 liters of free diesel fuel and $2,500,000 rupiahs in cash (about $250.00).  those were incentives offered to take this alternative route to the north out of Darwin and we were pleased to see that they kept their word.  The money was a secret and didn't arrive til the last day or so and they didn't want us to advertise that part of the incentive to the locals.
We caught this log fish coming through the wood debris field.  It was about 5' long.
 Beach house on Wangi Wangi. 
 A few of the village leaders welcoming us to the village where the kick fighting was held.
 Some of the kick fighting couples.  They must keep their hands clasped at all times
 Karen enjoying a refreshing coconut drink.
 A seaweed farm with tables of the stuff drying in the sun. 
Rows and rows of the seaweed tied to floating lines created lanes that looked like an Olympic swimming pool. 
 Seaweed drying on wooden racks on the beach.
 These women are tying little bits of seaweed onto the line between the floats.  Like seedlings, these bits will grow more seaweed and they will harvest and dry it and sell it to the restaurants and processing plants. Some of the local foods are made of seaweed, too.
 More long strings of seaweed in the shallow water between islands.
Jason and other cruisers trying foods prepared for us for lunch.  I reckon the kid in the tree has the best seat in the house for watching us 'bule', the local word for white foreigners.
 Women making coconut and cassava flour sticks that are wrapped in the banana leaves and baked in the hot coals of a fire.  The result looks like a flattened breadstick but it is very hard and tough to chew.  It tasted a bit like coconut and was given to seafaring canoe paddlers to store for the long durations at sea.
 Adding the banana leaf packages to the coals.  It seems there is always a fire going somewhere for cooking here.
 The results:  a very tough/hard coconut bread stick that would last for months on a canoe voyage without spoiling.
 Plates of food and goodies covered with clear cling wrap and/or banana leaves to keep the sun off them.
 An Indonesian toilet.  You stand with your feet straddling the toilet at left and squat to do your business.  Then take the dipper of water to wash yourself and flush the toilet.  No toilet paper is ever used by Indonesians, so we learned to carry our own always. 
 An old wooden ship that has been reduced to loose timbers.  Right in the harbor at Wakatobi, what a shame.
Some of the young women made up to be paraded around the town.  The huge headdresses were real neck exercises, I'm sure.  They parade the marriageable women around and the young men (and women?) to be circumcised.  We never really understood the circumcision part, and there appeared to be boys and girls in the parade of youth; we weren't sure if they were going to be cut or had already had the operation.
 A different ceremony where a figure of a man and woman were put onto a boat with fruits and vegetables and rice and other things representing wishes to be sent out to sea.  The ceremony was to return the boat and wishes to their origin--the sea.
We yachties were seated around the bamboo platform on which the boat was to be lifted.  They fed us a local meal, which we ate on our laps, surrounded by locals staring at us while we ate and the local elders made prayers and blessings of the offerings in the boats.  We were all allowed to take a handful of rice as we entered the area to contribute to the boat.  Horns made of coconut leaves were part of the boat booty and they let us blow them to announce the departure of the boat.

 Corn, a doll and some coconut leaf horns in the boat.  Note the carved green papaya used as an incense burner hanging at the left.
 Local men hoisted the bamboo poles carrying the boat onto their shoulders to parade it around town and down into the ocean to set It adrift.  They had to duck to keep from knocking the head off of the effigies.
 Local men in traditional dress following the boat to the ocean.  The men turned it seventeen time around in a circle, then through town, around the clock tower another seventeen times (the last one in the opposite direction of the other sixteen turns) and then down to the shoreline.
 They didn't even slow down when they got to the water.  They paraded in, clothes and all (though some had to scramble to divest themselves of cell phones before they got wet) and kept walking til the water was too deep to continue.
 The boat was carted all the way past the point of land you see in the middle distance.  That was the end of the jetty and they had to get it to clear water to set it on its journey back to its origin.
The fuel boat in the harbor, offloading diesel for us,
 The hose ran from the boat up to this tank in the back of a pickup truck.  From there, they used a hand crank to fill the jerry jugs for us.  They didn't want us to bring the fuel to our boats ourselves; they wanted to bring it out in the little boats.  Don't know why, but we half complied.  We took some and they brought the rest.  We filled ten jerry jugs and loaned them to several other boats to make the runs less numerous.
 Our view from the dinghy landing.  We had to curl around those local boats rafted six deep at the end of the actual wharf.  They had knocked down some of the fencing and put a few steps in where we could land and tie the dinghies to a post in the coral.
 We took a local boat to a neighboring island for another festival for their circumcision parade.  The girls and boys were made up in traditional dress and again paraded around in seats on bamboo poles, carried by male family members eager to show off their pretty little ones.  Then there was a huge feast at the end.  But the tide was way out when we left to cross the water and our boat driver needed to see where we were going, so he drove with his feet and stuck his head out of the hatch to see.  If you blow up the picture, you may be able to see the fish hook in the green wood in front of the driver's shin.  That is his throttle control!  Jackie, in the foreground is reacting to hitting the bottom as we came in at very low tide and bounced along the bottom several times before making it to shore.
 After nudging our way in to shore, this was as close as we could get, so we had to scramble off the boat and onto the rocks and climb up to the jetty.

Boats sitting in the mud at low tide.  At least bouncing on the bottom doesn't damage these flat bottomed boats.
 This little girl could hardly hold up the headdress.
 The men carry off the girls on their bamboo carriages.  They nearly trotted through the streets of the village. It was stinking hot that day and our guides shooed us off to the side and into the end tent to await the end of the parade in the shade.
 Jason with a couple of punk teenagers at the parade.
 Me and Jackie from Holule'a getting our photos with some of the made up girls and their families.
 These old folks sat under the blue tarps in the shade waiting for the parade to complete its route, like we did.  The old, the young.....
 and the indifferent....  Poor little tyke just curled up in the chair and ignored all the ceremony happening around him.
Our table of dishes set aside for us to enjoy when the parade is finished.

Other baskets of food prepared by each of the families with children in the ceremony.  These huge rounded baskets were filled with dishes of food waiting to be set out and eaten.  They were all covered with the rounded lids and a cloth.

 The children starting to be seated in the plastic chairs along the center of the tarped area.  Some of the children seemed a bit fazed by the happenings and we weren't certain if they were recovering from or anticipating the circumcision.
 Mothers getting ready to open the food hampers.
 Our bamboo bench broke a support and the guys had to fix it with spare parts of cut bamboo they found lying around. Woven palm leaves made seat covers.
 Waiting for the food to be opened
 The rest of the Wakatobi photos decided they didn't want to load properly, but these give you the idea.  Onward, Ho!


steve Kraskey said...

Guys, have been thinking about every day since the typhoon hit the Philippines. It was such a huge storm...are you OKAY?

steve Kraskey said...

Looks like you were well south of the storm...hope you are doing well and still enjoying your adventure. WE enjoy your adventure vicariously. Miss you.