In company with New Zealand boat Carrie (owners Hildebrand and Mariejka are Dutch born) we had a delightful two nights in Tanjung Suba just 20 nautical miles from Lewoleba.
The contrast could not have been greater – whereas Lewoleba was dusty, dirty and noisy, Suba was a pristine little bay, clean and peaceful except for the roar of surf hitting the reef when the tide was high.
In the late afternoon Jonathan and I climbed into the dinghy and found the very narrow passage between the fringing reef where we could land and pull the dinghy out of the water and up the beach.
As soon as we were on the beach a crowd of laughing and lively children came running up. They were very shy and went into paroxysms of giggles each time we spoke to them.
They proudly showed what they had caught or scavenged on the beach for their dinner – sea urchins, small eel-like creatures, tiny fish and other sea food I had never seen, let alone tasted.
The children were dressed in clean although ragged, clothes but they looked very healthy and bright eyed.
As we walked along the beach we were able to get a better view of what the many people on the beach were doing – they were tending their seaweed farm. The weed grows on fishing line stretched line after line across the bay and kept afloat by plastic bottles.
Apparently they sell the seaweed for around 70 – 80 cents a kilo (dried). That’s an awful lot of seaweed to harvest for not very much money. The villagers survive by fishing and growing all their own fruit and vegetables, with some people selling whatever they have over.
The children introduced us to Petros who we think was the local headman and he took us to his house where he brought chairs out for us where we sat for a while and “chatted” in sign language.
The sun was beginning to dip in the sky so with promises of returning the next day we made a dash for Bali Hai before darkness fell.
The next day we went in again, this time accompanied by Hildebrand and Marieke, and armed with our old wok, a couple of my little worn t-shirts, notebooks, lolly pops and a couple of caps.
We met Petros and once again sat in his very tidy and well-tended garden for a while before being taken round the village by his grandson.
The village was very clean and well looked after and the school was the best we had seen so far – posters and pictures on the wall, notebooks with very neat writing inside, text books , including ones to learn English and a good atmosphere.
We left some notebooks on one of the teacher’s desks and made our way back to Petros’s home where again we were invited to sit under the shade of his fruit trees.
After photos and more “chatting” we made our way through their plantations – past the pigs, cows, ducks and hens – to our dinghies, taking time to admire the beautifully crafted dugout canoes on the way.