Salamet Jalan

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December 13, 2010

A last email as we prepare to fly home tomorrow. We’ve had a great 3 months and will have a lot to process when we get home. 

We’ve traveled through 6 islands – Sumba, Flores, Sulawesi, Maluku. Papua and Bali — all so different and all special. We’ve taken 10 internal flights and one Pelni ship to access these far flung specks in the ocean. Leaving one island and landing in another has often felt like changing countries, but everywhere we’ve been we’ve felt the people’s warmth and friendliness, and their interest in strangers. I know that sounds like a cliche but believe me, that feeling is not universal in some countries. 

Highlights for us have been – the frozen in time villages of western Sumba with their compounds of soaring grass roofed houses, the proud, hardy culture of Tanah Torajah in Sulawesi with its fascination with funeral ceremonies, the parallel universe that is the Dani culture in Baliem Highlands in Papua, and most of all the unique blend that was the Banda Islands — experiencing daily life in a small Muslim fishing village, snorkeling the best reefs anywhere in the world, and exploring old Dutch forts on tiny islands littered with cannons, all the while learning more than I ever wanted to know about the atrocities perpetrated by Dutch and English armadas on the quest for spices back in the day.

We had a great time on our road trip in western and northern Bali and have had an unforgettable visit with our dear friends Barry and Loretta for the last week. Seeing Bali through their eyes has given us a different appreciation for an island we thought we might never visit again — but sadly we have now regained all the weight we had lost in the previous 2 1/2 months of more frugal meals!

As usual, in some ways we feel we could go on moving on forever, in others we yearn to see our family and especially our little “cucu” Ella. Not long now with any luck — we fly tomorrow, home Tuesday night.

Love to all, and to any of you who persisted through my long winded descriptions — thanks so much. See you soon, C&D

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