After many such events I have learned that it all just works out and is actually really fun. I know I will be treated with vigorous honesty, friendly people and a dedication to service unknown in the modern world. Most of all I know I will make great new friends.
So armed I began the fuel buying process in Labuan Bajo. It started with the put put put sound of a single unmufflered diesel engine growing closer as the classic long bowed Indo skiff approached. I went aft to meet the young lads asking if I needed anything, laundry, water, rubbish taken away?
I asked about fuel, I needed at least 1000 liters. No problem, the lad said, and soon another boat approached and the new guy quoted 6000 rp a liter,(sixty cents) a great price. What I was really doing is talking to the guy that knew the guy who could the guy who could get the fuel, they are probably all related. We all agree that the fuel would come in the morning and I went off to take a nap. I awoke to find the boys hovering at the stern in their boats waiting for me to come out. It seems the real fuel guy had spoken. If I wanted a couple of hundred liters it was the stated price but if I wanted the larger amount it was another dime a liter “for the Police”. The Police monitor the buying and stick their hand out if they see a large purchase. This was still a good price so no worries. They could also bring 2000 liters if I wanted but I had not gotten enough money from the ATM so said that would have to come the next day.
I gave the one child on the boat a toy car, the others some Coca Cola and we all had a great laugh. The boys washed the decks down and left. I had full tanks at a good price, ($2.80 a US gallon), new friends and another tale to tell.