Life in Kupang
The first days in port where consumed by customs, immigration and the all essential new internet connection and phone. The customs procedure was pleasant albeit long and absurdly complicated. This was a good look into the past for my young crew, they had never seen carbon paper! Copious amounts of copies of our essential documents were required by the five groups we visited. Again being in the Rally paid off as they organized all the agencies into one room and we simply bounced from table to table lined with scores of friendly officials.
After being cleared the next hurdle was acquiring a cell phone sim card and internet modem. Again the mountain came to Mohamed as the vender set up a table in the bar we used as base camp. After a bit of confusion, I must say primarily caused by our over eager group who had a hard time waiting in turn, I bought an internet modem and unlimited 90 usage — for about 1/3 the cost of the Australian service—and a cell phone sim and time enough for the entire stay. Total cost about eighty bucks, not bad!
While navigating the essential we all hung out at the shore side bar and got to know more of the rally participants. This is a great group and very diverse. So many countries represented and so many sea stories to hear.
You actually get vale dinghy parking here, a large group of smiling boys meet you at the beach and take you dinghy for safe keeping, all for a couple of bucks, they even take your garbage.
Essentials done so it was time to “go native”, a new friend, Holly, and I set out to see the town. We were soon joined by a delightful young school girl who leapt at the chance to practice her already proficient English. She stuck to us like glue and acted as our translator. She told us she aspired to be a tour guide and I can easily see that in her future.
We soon met two other cruising friends, Pablo for Spain and Maddie from England. They joined us in a bit of shopping. My quest to buy a Hawaiian shirt turned into a full blown cultural exchange and quite a hoot. After a rousing time I got a beautiful twelve dollar dress shirt, fit for formal occasions, and no idea where I will wear it.
This is a place unlike others I have been, a bit Asian, a bit Indian, a bit Arab. Always crowed and noisy and always charming and friendly, the culture covers you with a tapestry of sensory emersion.
The emersion starts about 4 AM when the first call to prayer blares over the loud speaker and rattles the anchorage. You are awoken to sounds from the Arabian Nights. This call is repeated several times a day and into the night. Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world. I look forward to actually visiting a Masque. As with all things Indonesian, religion is multi cultural and you will see brilliantly painted Christian symbols on taxi’s, walls, shirts, you name it. On the surface they all seem to meld seamlessly, although history does not tell that story.
Back on the boat we are invited to join Simone’s Brazilian friends on their boat so we plop in the small dinghy and head over. We spend a wonderful evening with a couple from Brazil who have cruised for years. Back on Furthur after a busy day I hit the bunk and awake to dreams of Arabian Bedouins and harem girls as the call to prayer starts a new day.