Gili Air to Lovina was a pleasant day trip.
We were cheated by the wind and had to motor, again, although since seasonal breezes are now generally from behind us we had really hoped to sail. But we needed to get there to renew our visas one more time and couldn’t be late for the Immigration Office, so off we went.
Immigration in Singaraja, about five miles up the road from Lovina, tells us it will take about a week to process the extensions. It’s been a week. Actually, it’s longer, because once they are ready it still takes at least a couple of days and two more office visits for us to pay them (we’re not permitted to pay at submission time), collect visas, and provide them with photocopies of our updated passports with the new stamp. This is Indonesian bureaucracy, people. It is painful and slow.
Immigration is more confused with our application than usual. There is a lot of discussion happening as our officer reviews the case with his boss. They want to speak with our sponsor (to get a social visa- which can be extended more than once, unlike the visa on arrival- you need to have a local sponsor). Great. Well, fortunately she is in Bali. Ruth speaks to them on the phone. Not enough: they want to meet her! It seems unbelievable, but once again, she proves herself to be a really terrific agent, and devotes the entire following day to a trip up to Immigration. She and a friend joined us later for dinner on Totem.
Cruisers- if you’ll be coming here, we highly recommend her services for boat permitting (the infamous CAIT) and visa support! Ruth can be reached at email@example.com; details at www.islemarine.com.
It could be worse. I mean, we’re in BALI. Mostly, we’re are using the time to get the boat clean, catch up on projects, catch up on learning, and do a little touristing around. Touristing, because this is a tourist town on a tourist island. When in Rome, right?
So, we hit some tourist spots. One great way to slough off the impatience with immigration bureaucracy? Hit the hot springs!
We don’t have our swimming suits. For the kids- no problem, they can wear their tank tops and underwear. Adults, not so much. I buy a cheap sarong and swim in that instead.
Other aspects of local tourism are less pleasant. When we land the dinghy on shore, hawkers descend to sell us everything from fruit and massages to bracelets or laundry services. Attempts to explain that we’re not the usual vacationers day-tripping from Kuta are only mildly successful. It becomes really tiresome to explain to the same person for the umpteenth time in a week that no, you’re not interested in buying their carvings / tshirts / bracelets / whatever.
Being sold to is still part of each dinghy landing and walk up to the main road. I can’t stand being rude and just walking away from someone who is talking to me, but when it’s the only option- you have to ask, who is really being rude?
We make friends with Maria, who purveys her fruit and services from the east end of the beach, and realizes that a soft sell works better with us. She delivers a lecture in Balinese to a few of the other sellers, after which they back off… mostly. Time seems to help us more than anything, as our faces slowly become familiar.
I’m sure whole families eke out a living on the few dollars that are made from beach vending, so it’s high stakes and they have more to lose. Less fun for us, but how big a deal is that, really? It’s the price to pay for traveling through tourist country again.