November has been a bit tumultuous, so I’ve decided to spend awhile longer in the ‘friendly confines’ of October. Here the Cubs have just clinched the National League Pennant and are playing in the World Series for the first time in 71 years, public opinion polls favor the Democrats to win in November, and the crew of Amandla are happily sailing in Indonesia.
After leaving Kalimantan, we sailed three days to beautiful Belitung, anchoring each evening along the way. Belitung is an unspoiled gem with very welcoming people, distinct traditions, and miles of pristine beaches dotted with seaside shacks serving yummy, fresh, affordable food.
In Tanjung Kelayang we saw a Kuda Lumping performance where dancers rode decorative horses made from woven bamboo while traditional instruments were played in the background. The dancers eventually entered a trance, which is traditionally said to be caused by spirit possession. Once the dancers were “possessed”, they displayed unusual abilities including resistance to the effects of whipping.
In the Kelapa Kampit District, we watched the traditional Belitung fighting game ‘Beripat Beregong’. In the game, two men fight for about 10 minutes using rattan as weapons while music is played. The origin of the fight was to win a young girl’s hand in marriage, but now it is commonly performed at ceremonial events.
In Manggar, we witnessed the Antu Bubu ritual that is used to cleanse the sea of evil spirits for the fishing fleet. A local shaman invited a sea ghost (Antu) into an oval-shapped fishing tool made of rattan (Bubu). The Bubu was draped in a white cloth used to cover corpses and a coconut was placed at the top. The Bubu becomes very heavy when infused with the Antu. Two young men were brave enough to face the Antu Bubu and both put up a good fight. The second man triumphed by damaging the trap.
In Tanjung Padan, we were the honored guests of the students at SMK N 3 Tanjungpandan, a vocational high school training students for careers in hospitality industry. They treated us like rock stars and fed us an incredibly delicious meal. I have no doubt that these students will succeed in their chosen profession.
On our final days in Belitung, we provisioned at Tanjung Padan’s bountiful marketplace, relaxed, and waited for our friend Abby to arrive for a four-day visit from New York; far too short, next time, I hope she’ll stay a year.
Abby had never been on a sailboat before, but she was a natural sailor and a very welcome guest. We lifted anchor the morning after her arrival and sailed over two days to Pulau Ketawai.
In Ketawai, Abby got a little taste of the Indonesian welcome that we have been experiencing since our arrival in West Timor. Our hosts treated us to three delicious meals a day and fantastic entertainment. They also took the rally fleet on an exciting tour of nearby Bangka, but the crew of Amandla opted to enjoy a relaxing day at the beach.
Abby disembarked Amandla on October 23rd and was ferried to Bangka for a flight courtesy of our generous hosts. The Captain and I set out on a two-day sail to Batam which turned into a three-day sail as we opted to anchor due to inclement weather.
We arrived in Batam early on the 26th for an afternoon checkout and plans to sail onward to Johor Bahru, Malaysia via The Singapore Strait. The following morning, we lifted anchor, and sadly sailed away from wonderful Indonesia and into our future.
Submitted for Cardinal Guzman’s ‘The Changing Seasons’