When our expectations of a quick (<1 week) visa extension turned into a three weeks, it was hard not to be frustrated. Yet silver linings are everywhere: a chance to go out to Pulau Menjangan was just the first.
The very best part of our delay by far was the chance to catch up with an old friend. Rick and I met in 1988 on a camping trip that preceded our matriculation to a little liberal arts college in Connecticut. We were both Chinese minors and members of the sailing team – kind of a unique combination it turned out, and have been good friends ever since.
Rick had been in touch months before to see if we’d be in Bali, since he and his partner Lori were planning some vacation time there. We never expected to still be around! The passports did show up just before he arrived, but sticking around for the weekend to get some time with Rick was no price to pay. Our hopes for a big hike around the volcano were foiled by some seriously torrential rain (and this is the dry season?), but we probably couldn’t have spent a better day than we did- just sitting in their bungalow and talking away the hours, sipping tea in front of a stunning view of terraced paddies.
Extra time let us do a few other things, too. With help from Abdul, we topped up our diesel. There’s not much wind, and absolutely no way we will make it to our intended clearance port on time without a lot of motoring.
We heard over and over how tourism is down right now, and in a town that relies on their business, people were hurting. Although it was a relief when the beach hawkers did finally stop trying to sell us things we didn’t want buy, but we found other ways to put a little money back into the local economy. We had a big triton shell picked up in Papua New Guinea polished to a glossy sheen. One of the jewelry sellers brought a much loved silver necklace of mine, handmade by my friend Rebecca, back to a glossy sparkle. I got to the point of having credit with some of the guys who drove me back and forth to the immigration office. We didn’t do anything extravagant, but spread a bunch of little bits around.
A few Lovina contacts for cruisers coming to the north side of Bali:
- Abdul is a trustworthy fuel hookup in Lovina. He may very well come out to meet you in his canoe when you arrive, but you can also contact him at 0813 3825 5837. We left Totem entirely in his care for the day that we went inland to visit with Rick and Lori, since the occasionally strong afternoon squalls could spell disaster if we dragged and no one was around.
- Nyoman lives close to the beach, and was a great driver- a comfy car with 3 rows of seats meant we had lots of room for people and stuff. His English is just OK, but it’s enough, and he really knows his way around. We appreciated his cautious style. 0813 3864 4073
- Ojek (motorcycle “taxi”) rides are easy to find, but a couple of the guys who were always ready to help with a smile were Made Gembong (0813 3840 9798) and Putu (0815 5855 3810), who ferried me to immigration under his poncho during a torrential downpour.