We have been in the country nearly three weeks now. We have sailed five hundred miles, visited three towns and three villages, anchored in seven bays and met hundreds of people many of whom wanted a photo with us.
The country is beautiful. I am writing this anchored off the island of Papua. The forest comes all the way to the ocean and the villages, with their mosques and churches, are buried in the forest behind the white beaches. The sea is mostly see through and every island is fringed with beautiful, healthy coral. Unfortunately plastic rubbish is endemic but you have to look past that.
The weather is a dream. It is hot all day and warm all evening but, particularly in the evening, a breeze blows that cools everything down wonderfully. If we anchor in a busy bay then we may need clothes as the fisherman pass and at night a single sheet is enough. Occasionally it rains but, until now, they have only been passing squalls that wash the salt off Artemis. The rainy season has not arrived yet.
The food is tasty and affordable. Because one Euro is worth over 15 000 IDR we tend to be millionaires and spending thousands of rupees in a market can be a bit unnerving but, when we work it back to Euros, we have a problem spending more than five Euros. Fruit and vegetables are available everywhere so we are enjoying a healthy diet. In Tual we ate lunch at a street stall and it was tasty, filling and very affordable. In the village of Pasir Putih we walked once through town and bought everything we needed from the stalls next to the road. In Fakfak we were looking for lunch when some kind ladies who were tidying up after a festival gave us their lunch packets and then bought us Durian fruit as a desert.
And the people are amazingly friendly. Everybody smiles and says hello. Almost everybody wants a photo with the strange foreigners. Most people have no idea what we are talking about but try and help us anyway. We say Selamat Pagi and sometimes we get a shy good morning as an answer and we are all amazed what polyglots we are. We met a family on the beach and said hello. The next minute we were sat down eating their fried bananas with chili sauce and fried coconuts. We introduced ourselves as English speaking in a village and were taken to meet Imelda, the retired English teacher and all her grandchildren. In Fakfak Heidi got carried away by the music and a minute later she was dancing with a partner. We only said hello to Dewi and her colleagues and were invited for lunch. The next day she and her family visited us onboard Artemis.