5:40 p.m. I’m sitting at the outdoor bar area at the Island Retreat resort on the island of Bomba, sipping a Bitang beer while watching the sunset. Sunset views are absolutely spectacular here, much like all of the others I have witnessed since arriving in the Togean Islands
around 1½ weeks ago.
We are making our way out of the Togean Islands
to the coastal city of Ampana in Central Sulawesi
. With a bit of luck, a public boat will be running tomorrow morning at 9 o'clock - as is allegedly the case, although nearly all public boats plying the Togeans
are canceled on account of Eid-ul-Fitr
, the festivities marking the end of Ramadan
- to ferry us to Ampana, a necessary transit stop en route to Tana Toraja
in South Sulawesi
Given that no public boats at all are running from Kadidiri to anywhere else in the Togean Islands
, just getting off of Kadidiri required a strategic game plan. This we accomplished today by organizing a group to dive at Atoll, an atoll lying around 1½ hours away from Kadidiri and home to many quality dive sites. From Atoll we had the boat driver drop us off here at the Island Retreat resort on Bomba, a half hour further afield, but importantly, the closest island in the Togeans
to Ampana. We therefore killed 2 birds with one stone, so to speak: obtaining our dive fix with an hour long dive at a new site while making it a bit further on our journey out of the Togeans
. Not bad!
We comprised a group of 6, all western tourists - Vikki and I, Imagen, Andy, Tomasz and Renata - trying to leave the Togeans
and get to Tana Toraja
or points even further afield. With luggage and dive gear in tow on the boat, we left Kadidiri Paradise Resort shortly before noon for the last time. Bertrand, a chain smoking French ski instructor and divemaster in the off season with a smoker’s cough reminiscent of an 80 year old lifetime smoker, led the group.
En route to Atoll we stopped for lunch at someone’s home in Wakai, the largest village in the Togeans
and the closest village to Kadidiri. We had briefly passed through Wakai once before after taking the ferry from Kataput, across the strait from Fadhila Cottages, here en route to Kadidiri. Apparently our boat’s driver wanted to stop by and see family or friends for Eid-ul-Fitr
. We went to a local family‘s residence, most of whom milled about much as we do with our extended families on Thanksgiving or Christmas. They had a buffet table decked out with lots of local Indonesian food, and they urged us to eat. I didn‘t hesitate, to put it mildly.
None of the family spoke more than a few words of English, and our conversation with them was limited to very basic facts such as our countries of origin. Indonesians love Barak Obama, whose half-sister had an Indonesian father and who himself spent several years of his early childhood in Jakarta
, so upon learning my nationality, they merely said “Obama” and smiled.
A funny situation, really, if you look at the facts...
So there we sat, eating someone’s food, in their home and enjoying their hospitality, whom we had met but didn’t know. Without even a solid clue as to who they actually were… I felt like Clark Griswold
in the 1980's comedy film National Lampoon's European Vacation
, staying in Bavaria
with his “German relatives” who in reality turned out to be merely hospitable non-English speaking strangers. Well, anyway, whoever this family was on Wakai who hosted us, many thanks again for the great lunch and hospitality!
After our lunch in Wakai, we continued on our boat trip to Atoll. Here we encountered a problem. As it is Eid-ul-Fitr
, nearly all the staff having gone home for the holiday, including the usual boat driver. This left us today with a substitute boat driver completely unfamiliar with the various dive hot spots at Atoll. Upon reaching Atoll, the boat man could not find our planned dive spot, Fish-O-Rama, so we had to settle for the sole dive site here which our dive master Betrand knew intimately, Goa Goa.
Anyway, our 55 minute dive at Goa Goa proved to be a good one, even though this was not our intended dive site. We enjoyed calm and beautiful colored waters, a nice reef wall and good visibility. And smooth as clockwork, after diving Goa Goa we just cruised another half hour here to Bomba!
Today Murphy's Law
did not prevail. I'm hoping now our good fortune continues and there is indeed a ferry to Ampana tomorrow morning.