Johanna here: the day after the Independence Day celebrations at the southern end of Tagulandang, we travelled to the north of the island, so as to be ready to make the next big crossing. In keeping with the serendipitous happenings that have characterized the project from the beginning, we met the female Kepala Desa of the northernmost villange (Minanga) at the Independence Day ceremony. We accepted Anita Bawotong’s invitation to visit Desa Minanga, and enjoyed a lovely morning of conversation, sampled the locally-grown nutmeg, cloves, bananas & coconuts, all straight off the trees.
We also walked up into the hills to visit Minanga’s renowned & beloved fresh water spring, for more washing & joking with local women (we were the joke). In the dry season (which is now), people from several mountain villages come to wash, do laundry & butcher meat in the river (the spring is a separate water source). I have to admit that whilst I wasn’t too fazed by the pork entrails getting a good rinse, I was thrown by the sight of a man showing off his whole smoked/roasted dog. Dogs, cats, mouse, rat, snake and frog are standard fare in these parts, & are raised like livestock. Again, Anita laughed at me when running through the list for me – it’s no news to them that ‘bule’ (white people) are rarely so inclined.
That afternoon we crossed to Siau in Tropica, and spent a night camping in a small hamlet. Here, we experienced our first torrential downpour of the trip – around 2am. We all got soaked whilst scrambling out of mosquito tents & tying tarps to trees.
Following interesting conversations with the residents, the next day we paddled further, to a truly deserted island, & had our first night of quiet, tropical bliss since Selanka. For a remote part of Indonesia, there sure are a lot of people hugging these coasts! Today, Monday 20th, we had to bid Arny farewell as she took the ferry back to Manado. Despite having shown great promise with her paddling skills, & providing excellent assistance during the research, the combination of homesickness & discomfort during the longer inter-island crossings became too much for her. We’re really looking forward to catching up with Arny & Jacqline upon our return to Manado. As of now we (and Tropica) are poised to cross to Para at first light tomorrow, and are hoping for 4 or 5 days of paddling from there to Sangihe. Now that we’ve got quite a bit of research done, it’s time to have a bit more fun whilst the weather holds. Yay!