#6 Sulawesi, Oct. 18, 2011

My last day in Poso I decided to have a special lunch, so I asked the internet young man for a restaurant recommendation. He told me the name of a restaurant, the Morrowali, which I wrote down. When I got a motorbike taxi, I gave the name of the restaurant to the driver and he nodded. Well, it turned out he didn’t know where it was, and it also turned out to be a long ways away. After asking for directions and going wrong a few times we finally arrived at this restaurant way out in the country. Riding on those motorbikes scares me anyway—there is so much traffic. By the time I got to the restaurant, I was no longer hungry from anxiety!

The lunch was good, however, but not quite worth all that effort! When I had finished, I stood on the highway quite a while, waving at vans and motorbikes to pick me up, and finally a motorbike did. On the way back we went more directly and still it took almost a half hour.

Amir, the man that I had ridden with to get to Poso from Tentena, invited me to his home for coffee that evening and then took me to an agency to make the arrangements for me to ride in a minivan to Ampana the next day. He’s a busy guy, and so helpful, and clearly knows everyone in town. He said he was born and raised in Poso and has worked for the government tourist bureau for many years. There was a huge billboard near my hotel advertising a big festival coming up that had Amir’s picture on it!  (He’s in the lower left corner)

There were a number of people at his house, one of whom was a photographer/nephew who photographed us. And while he didn’t introduce me to her, the young woman with a baby appeared to be his wife, although he had already introduced me to his ‘wife’, another very young, glamorous woman that was in the car when we came from Tentena to Poso. So it goes.

The next morning the (9:00) minibus finally came to pick me up at 9:55. We still had to pick up more passengers but eventually got on our way at about 10:15. The driver was such a cowboy that the ride wasn’t pleasant, although the scenery was nice, skirting the ocean as we did most of the way. We had a nice lunch stop where the menu was grilled (over a wood fire) fish with rice, fish soup (with tamarind), veggies (carrots, beans and cabbage, slightly pickled) and chilies. They eat a lot of fish here, and it’s usually very good. They don’t use much salt, though, and salt is never on the table. They do use chilies, kind of in place of salt.

We had to stop for gas and wait in line a long time on the outskirts of Ampana, but eventually, after stopping at the driver’s home, delivering other passengers, and chatting with other bus drivers, we finally got to my hotel, The Oasis. This was a nice hotel, but swarming with mosquitoes. They sprayed my room before I turned in, and that did the trick, but it also meant I had to sleep with windows shut as there were no screens. I had a fan, though, so I slept fairly comfortably.

The next day I made arrangements to go to the Togean Islands for the following day, and then went for lunch at an out-of-town resort overlooking the ocean. I took a ‘binte’ to get there—a small horse-drawn carriage. The setting was nice but the lunch was only mediocre.

Well silly me! I had been seeing liter glass bottles of palm wine for sale along many streets in each of the towns, and had asked (using signs) a couple of times if I could just have a tiny taste, gesturing ‘small’ with my hands as I didn’t want to buy a whole liter. The sellers always looked dubious and refused. Finally that day on the way back to Ampana from lunch, I saw a woman pouring the contents of one of these containers into a motorbike gas tank! Obviously these did not have palm wine in them, but gasoline for motorbikes!

I got the Tuna Tomini car ferry for the five hour trip to the Togean Islands. I landed at Wakai from where I was shuttled in a smaller boat to the island of Kadidiri, and the Kadidiri Paradise Resort. As we were pushing off in the boat, one of the passengers called to a friend on shore, “I’ll see you in Paradise!” which, I told him, made me rather nervous!

The resort was beautifully set with a lovely beach, hammocks, sea breezes, and lots of divers there, of which I am not one! We had communal meals (there were about 20 guests) in which seafood figured prominently.

The water was so clear that you could easily see the beautiful fish from the dock. The guests were mostly Germans and a few other –

-Europeans—no Americans. If fact, I

haven’t met another American on this whole trip!

The sunsets were beautiful and so were the orchids that grew parasitically off the trees.  I had a nice bungalow, complete with three meals for only $18 per day. What a bargain! I spent a fair amount of time swimming/floating in the warm ocean water; still there was a little bit too much time to just hang out, and I was ready to leave in three days.

I was shuttled in a small boat, along with Cami (Canada) and Alistair (New Zealand), whom I had met in Tentena, to the Tuna Tomini, which we would now take north to Gorontalo. Since it would be an overnight 15-hour ride, we, three, got a cabin. Actually we lucked out and got the ‘Captain’s Cabin,’ which had A/C, a double and single bed, and was quite large!

We met another Dutch couple and the five of us shared some beers and good talk on an upper deck—it’s amazing how fluent the young Europeans are in English. I slept reasonably well and we arrived Gorontalo at 6:00 AM. We took a tuktuk to the Melati Hotel, but unfortunately I could only get a room for two nights as there would be a conference in town in two days for which all the hotel rooms in town were booked. This hotel has wifi, which works quite well. I shall stay here for two nights and then I’ll move on to my next destination.

In the afternoon I went for a walk to explore the town. How odd—so many of the buildings are in bright, somewhat garish colors, including the mosques. But it is an attractive town. Even the planters on the streets are colorful! I stopped at a rumah maken (small local restaurant) for my main meal. I had gado-gado, which is a dish of many veggies, tofu (here), a hard-cooked egg, and all in a ground peanut sauce. It was very good.

There are quite a few mosquitoes here, and other flying insects, as well, so I put up my mosquito netting, and with the fan, slept very well.

I made arrangements to move on to Kotamobagu tomorrow in a ‘car.’ One pays the most for sitting in the front seat, second-most for the middle seat and least for the back seat! It’s a five-hour drive.

Until later—


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