2020 🇺🇸 🇬🇧
Now it is a thing of the past, but for many (especially me) it will remain in our memories as an unforgettable year. I'm going to tell you how the year 2020 ended for me.
I used to go out to do my grocery shopping every Monday and spending the rest of the week confined to home. November made a big difference in my routine. I began to have days when I could walk more than 10 steps without the need to support myself on crutches and my ability to support my own weight on the operated foot increased day by day. This was the month that I was able to feel a little more secure venturing out on the streets riding Meteoro (my moped) beyond my weekly shopping. I knew then, that it was time to get on with my life, get out of Lombok and meet Pegaso (my bicycle) in Bali.
The last week of the month I put up for sale all the things I had bought to cope with my voluntary isolation in order to avoid contagion of Covid while I was recovering from my surgery. Refrigerator, electric stove, pots, pans, blender, rice cooker, knives and all kinds of utensils necessary in a kitchen as well as spices, sauces, flours and everything necessary to cook international menus as I like. I built this special cabinet to fit my small induction cooker with its sink to cook and wash dishes... standing! Here they are used to doing everything squatting. It was beautiful and I felt so sad saying goodbye to it.
These are examples of the photos with which I promoted the sale of my things. I put the price that I paid and the auction price with the description of the item. (There are 2 photos in the slideshow)
I equipped the bathroom with new plumbing to be able to bathe with a shower instead of a bucket.
Those above and hundreds of other items, all the things I needed to get rid of as soon as possible. As you can see, I took photos of them, I put the prices of what they cost me and the auction ones; I uploaded them to my Google Drive and created a gallery. I shared the link with my friends and acquaintances and as I was selling them I was deleting them to keep the gallery updated so people would not come looking for something I already sold.
As the days passed and I saw that they were not selling as fast as I wanted, I decided to use another strategy. Remember the ads a person wore on like this?
Well, with this idea in mind I had one made but in a material like synthetic canvas. One single piece to be fold in half, one half in front of me and the other in my back. I made a cut in the middle of both halves to pass my head through and wear it like a poncho. Here I show you only half, the other if you see it is rolled up.
Translated it says something like: Foreigner leaving Lombok and selling everything. In red the arrow indicating where to park because I was standing right on the side of the road and at the entrance to the parking lot.
This shot, which is very bad by the way, starts on the porch of my house where you can see the parking area while I go to the entrance of it. Once I had crossed the bridge over the canal, at the edge of the paved road, that's where I used to stand, to the left of the entrance opposite the sign on the right. This is a main road with a lot of traffic that connects the north of the island with the capital and the rest of the island.
It took me a couple of weeks to promote my auction gallery to my friends, neighbors and acquaintances in Pemenang village. For a couple of days I became a human advertisement standing on the side of the road to speed things up. Finally, in mid-December, I was able to sell almost everything at ridiculous prices and gave the remainder to my friends, giving preference to newly married young couples and low-income families and individuals. It took me 3 weeks to get rid of all the belongings that are not part of my permanent gig that I use when I ride my bike.
Before leaving Lombok I wanted to circumnavigate the island as I did not do it by bike so I decided to do it with Meteoro. Over time I have saved many points of interest in my maps, shown in green, that I would like to visit on the island.
At first, when I first conceived the idea; how to transport all my belongings in one trip became a great challenge. How do you manage to load 8 pieces of luggage with approximately 100 kilos of weight on a scooter?
In my mind I conceived different ways to do it, over and over I drew them on paper, considering the advantages and disadvantages of each of the possibilities until I finally came up with the final version and the one that I considered the most convenient in terms of costs, security and chances of success. But I couldn't do it alone, it required developing it in a smithy and I needed an interpreter to help me communicate, I would have to wait until I was in Mataram and one of my friends there would help me.
I had to divide my luggage and make 2 trips to move my bags to Mataram, the capital and main city of Lombok. In the end, I loaded Meteoro with the last portion of my belongings, handed over the keys to the house to its new owner, and set off for the city.
At this moment I closed one more chapter of my life.
Once again I sold the things I had bought with great care and nourished the illusion of being at home. I was ready to soar again into the unknown. It was not easy to say goodbye to the small 36 square meters house where I lived for 15 months, to the village of Pemenang, to its people, to my friends, to the local warungs I used to eat at, to everything I experienced and cherished there.
There are 5 photos in the slideshow:
My beloved little house.
One of the many yummy feasts I cooked while I was confined.
The peculiarity of the culture, and its unique beauty. Can you see the white flower on one of the statues?
One of the most memorable adventures I had there and the friends with whom it took place.
Its spectacular landscapes, the most common scenery in Lombok, rice paddies everywhere.
Point A is my home and Point B is my friends' home / office. So you can see where I'm traveling day by day.
I arrived at the home/office of my friends Fikri, Iqbal and the rest of the Telkom team that they used as their work base, here is where I had previously left the first portion of my luggage.
They invited me to have lunch where they would serve Soto Ayam, a chicken noodle soup with vegetables that they know I really like, which one of his classmates' family prepared as a celebration for his graduation from university. When I finished, Fikri helped me find the blacksmith who understood the concept that I designed in my mind to mount all my luggage on the motorcycle. This was the key piece to be able to transport everything at the same time.
Back at their home base they had a business meeting while I packed my luggage. Look how different are the work meetings here, they don't take place inside the house, they are carried out sitting in a Berugak, something like a gazebo or kiosk with the floor raised from the ground where people take off their shoes and sit or lie down. They are everywhere in Lombok.
Once the motorcycle was loaded, I approached the group to say goodbye. Friends and new acquaintances wished me a happy trip.
In the background Meteoro was waiting for me, loaded with all my luggage ready to start the tour of Lombok.
Night was already falling when I gave my cell phone to Fikri so that he would do me the favor of filming the moment of my departure.
From Mataram I headed to Lembar, the port where at the end of my circumnavigation I would board a ferry bound for Bali. There, at Lembar, the family of my friend Iqbar was waiting for me, who would do me the favor of keeping part of my luggage so that I could circumnavigate Lombok a little lighter.
Wadi met me at the entrance to the port and took me to his home, which is located a short distance from there. He introduced me to his nephew, his sister, and his mother. At his house I started sorting my things and packed only what I would take for the next few days' journey and left what would be unnecessary. As I got back to Meteoro, other family members and neighbors began to gather around me curiously as I arranged my luggage and prepared to continue.
When they asked me where I was going, I told them that my plan was to go to Cemare Beach (pronounced Chemare). Wadi offered to take me, he quickly organized his friends and in a matter of minutes we were going on 3 scooters on our way to the beach to spend the night.
You can't imagine how grateful I was that they had offered to take me there. I never imagined that part of the road almost reaching the beach would be so risky. Because it was the rainy season, the dirt road was almost destroyed, bumpy, puddled, at times flooded and with slippery mud across its entire width. If I had gone alone I would not have arrived, I would have returned when I saw the condition of the access road. My biggest fear was that the motorcycle would slip and I would react by slapping my operated foot with force as it had happened to me other times and to hurt myself again, as it had happened to me on other occasions, which would mean that I could not walk for several days and spoil all my plans.
Fortunately that did not happen and we arrived safely at the beach. Despite having barely met, we had a very pleasant evening, we talked a lot, there was never silence, because if we were not talking, we were singing...
Well, maybe at dinnertime.
Here is the link to my very first live Facebook broadcast that night:
These types of meetings are very educational and I love them especially because we enrich each other, they learn about my culture and I from theirs. They taught me new words in Bahasa Indonesia and I helped them improve their English.
I have no idea what time I fell asleep but I remember that it rained in the middle of the night and that woke me up. I noticed that they took refuge in a small food stall with a roof and kept talking and singing. I did not suffer because I was well prepared against rain and mosquitoes (my worst enemy), I slept in my hammock with mosquito net and I anticipated the rain with my tarp covering me.
When I woke up they were already up, they must have slept very little.
I got out of my hammock and started looking around me. I walked around a bit and took some photos and videos.
We broke camp, mounted our motorcycles, and left the place. Here is a sample of the dirt road we passed but now dry, without puddles or mud.
And a bridge that also made me very nervous when crossing it at night. As you will see, it is not easy to do it during the day.
I thanked the boys for the evening together and gave them a sum of money for the expenses they made on my behalf the night before providing the food, we said goodbye and I continued my journey to circumnavigate the island of Lombok.
I stopped at a "warung", that's what food outlets of any size are called. I parked in front, took off my helmet and gloves, grabbed my man bag and walked over. I didn't see anyone at the counter, I looked in the dining room and nothing. How strange, I thought, and my eyes caught something irregular in the background on the ground.
Life on the island is very relaxed, it is very common to see people napping... or just watching the screen on their cell phones. I had to wake them up and feeling very ashamed they fixed their hair and clothes, put on sandals and attended me. I ate delicious but they overpriced the meal when it came to charging.
When I resumed the tour I saw some structures that I had never seen in my life and I asked myself what are these things? Well, I had no idea what they were for but Kevin Costner's movie Waterworld came to mind.
The day passed mostly with sunshine and a few drizzles spread throughout the entire day.
Lombok is very similar to the Pacific coast of Mexico. In many aspects, such as its geography, its tropical climate, its human settlements, its roadside shops and its people reminded me of the roads of Michoacán, Guerrero and Oaxaca. Everything is green with lush vegetation.
Unfortunately that day I traveled many miles to no avail, I wasted gasoline and time because I could not reach my second destination, Desert Point. First Google Maps took me off the main road and onto rather suburban roads like this ...
Nothing strange because I have been on similar ones on other occasions many times. Until Google took me to a point where there was no road to be seen and if it existed, it was surely impassable in my condition. I had to cancel that destination and return because there was no way where to go further.
I jumped to the next point on my map, Mekaki Hill and Mekaki Dream Beach. And again, with little to go, I come across this...
With much apprehension and nerves I managed to pass to the other side because as you can see, there was still water running and the mud was gooey and slippery.
I continued and ran into another landslide. I had the chance to see another rider coming in the opposite direction, his partner got out to cross on foot and I saw how the driver had a hard time crossing the section over a mud ditch that made him stumble several times and about to lose his balance with the huge risk of falling on the hillside.
After they passed, I got off the bike to analyze the situation more closely and I realized that once again luck was not on my side.
Due to the heavy rains there were landslides like the two that I came across, but the latter finally did not dare to continue. I had to go back the way I had come and settle for just seeing the beach from afar, which, being so close, turned out to be so far.
Lombok is predominantly Muslim, so I was struck by passing through this village where obviously its inhabitants were mostly Hindus. The architecture of its buildings is very peculiar. It seems that everything they build such as their houses, businesses or any other construction is based on their religion because it is difficult to differentiate between what is private, public or religious, they all look like temples!
Their roofs are pointy and you will always see small structures at the corners of their property and I don't know why but the gates are a big deal for them, the entrances to their buildings are elaborated and beautiful. Even the entrances to their towns, at the end of the video you will see 2 standing structures by the side of the road, that’s the gate of the village.
I ended up returning to the exact same area that I left that morning.
When I saw that I would not have time to get to any of the nearby points of interest on my map, I gave up, and then more relaxed, I decided to enjoy the road and spent time taking photos along the way. Later I went to a wooden pier to take some photos and when I finished I asked those who were sitting in a Berugak talking if they were the owners to which they answered affirmatively. (6 photos slideshow)
I introduced myself and told them what I do. I asked them if they would allow me to spend the night there, to which they responded affirmatively again. They turned out to be a family, the parents, their son, their daughter-in-law and grandson and also their daughter, a young girl. All of them very kind and polite. We talked about many things, they asked me many questions, the talk was very cordial and entertaining. As evening fell, it was time for them to leave. Dad showed me the bathroom and put a mosquito net and a mat in the Berugak for me. At night I took a shower, brushed my teeth and slept very well, the mosquitoes did not bother me throughout the night.
In Lombok people start the day very early, the first call from the mosques to pray varies a bit and I still do not know why but it is between 3:30 and 4:30 AM at the same time that the roosters begin to wake everybody up with their crowing and the birds chirping, before the sunrise.
That's how Meteoro and I woke up. (2 photos)
Later the son, daughter-in-law and grandson arrived. I thanked everyone and said goodbye.
I tried to get to Panngang beach but again, I ran into problems due to the rains so I continued to the next point on my map, Selong Belanak Beach. A road trip with beautiful scenery through the mountains with ups and downs and many curves. A completely rural area with few settlements that can be called towns and very little infrastructure such as gas stations, supermarkets or restaurants. Only the local people and their few and small establishments necessary for them.
I reached the other side of the island, the south shore and I was feeling hungry so I stopped at the only crossroads in the town just before reaching the beach, and looked for a place to have lunch. After looking at several options, all of them very small, I chose a small warung where I saw that they sold Nasi Campur. It is pronounced Nasi Champur and literally translates as mixed rice but a more accurate meaning would be rice cocktail or cocktail with rice. On a plate they put a portion of white rice in the center and accompany it with 3 or 4 small portions of the different side dishes on display inside a glass cabinet. When you just order it, the dispatcher chooses the options and puts a spoonful of Sambal, the hot Indonesian sauce. Otherwise, one chooses the options that one likes, and that is precisely what I always do, but I never settle for 3 or 4, I always end up with 6 or 7 different things on my plate and a good portion of Sambal is mandatory --for me 😋
I love it! and if they have something with broth I ask for a separate bowl to eat as soup.
Well, there I found a very kind lady, the owner. I saw that she was cooking as lunchtime was approaching, which excited me because that meant I would eat something hot and freshly cooked. I went to the display and saw that there was not a good assortment of options yet, I tried to explain that I was not in a hurry and that I'd rather wait for more things to get cooked. She was more concerned about me waiting than about her business and recommended that I go to another new establishment owned by a relative of hers. I explained to her that my wish was to contribute to her economy for the benefit of her business. She insisted and she walked me to the place because it was a few steps down the street.
In effect, he place looked new, it was obvious the decoration and the menu were more focused on foreigners, and what I wanted was traditional food, bummer! that's what it is, I thought. They told me they didn't have Nasi Campur, I ordered an à la carte dish with orange juice and I was very specific when clarifying that I wanted it pure, without water or ice. I asked to see the stews but my surprise was that everything was frozen, I canceled the order and waited for my juice. They brought it to me and since I saw it at the distance I knew it had water, I took a sip, and indeed, they put water on it. I put it on the table, got up and told them that I did not accept it because it was not what I had ordered and I left.
I returned with the lady and she already had more stews in the window, I chose my options and sat down to enjoy a Nasi Campur as intended. From there I went to the beach, Selong Beach.
Then I continued to Kuta, a surfers village, probably the place where most foreigners visit and reside on the entire island.
Upon arrival I stopped to have a juice. I was chatting with the employees, two young muslim women, we were having fun. Indonesian people love photos, especially selfies. One of them, when she saw me taking photos, asked me to take some of her, she was not shy at all, she began to model 😁
When a client friend of theirs came to eat, he got involved in the conversation we were having and heard that in my travels I look for accommodation with the local people. Turned out this man had a room available in a homestay, he told me I could stay there for 2 nights. It was an offer that I accepted very happy because it meant having my things in a safe place with a key so that I could go out to explore the surroundings without carrying all my luggage. In addition to the comfort of air conditioning, a bathroom with a sitting toilet and a shower yay! With the added convenience of being located in the very center of the village.
I was very excited to be in Kuta because for a year I had not had the opportunity to eat anything of Western origin and I had a huge craving for a real hamburger and fries. The ones sold in Lombok do not use ground beef as we are used to, they use something similar to a thick slice of salami for the burgers and kebabs.
That night I searched on Google Maps where to have something for dinner that was not Asian and after checking the number of stars and reading some reviews of various local establishments I decided to go and have dinner at a place called KRKN.
Arriving at this place made me feel like arriving at an old west canteen, only that the horses were motorized 😊
I found them very busy with a venue almost full as a surfing competition was taking place that weekend.
I read the menu and ordered a Dirty Burger and Parmesan Fries.
Let me tell you, it was something memorable, hard to forget. The whole experience was almost magical, the place, the clientele, the atmosphere, and especially the flavors that I was finally able to enjoy.
I went very, very happy to my room. I turned on the air conditioning, took a relaxing shower, and went to bed. I slept like a baby.
I was invited to a traditional Muslim wedding in the village of Selong, on the east side of the island.
As you can see on the map, I left behind the rugged terrain of jungle, mountains, hills, curves, ups and downs. That day I entered the plains of the island. The landscape became more "urban" if that can be said, because it never stops being rural as there are rice paddies and crops everywhere, wherever one goes. In this video I give you a sample of the roads, the traffic, the landscapes, the architecture and the people along the road on a Sunday.
Parking is always a problem, especially at busy events such as a wedding. I realized it is problem everywhere, even for motorists traveling on 2 wheels. My lifelong habit has always been to seek the shade. I absolutely dislike getting into a hot vehicle or sitting on a seat that will iron my butt. I located a nice shade under a tree, I stopped , turned off the motorcycle and then a person came out to tell me that I could not park there, pointing at the same time in the direction of the other side of the street where other motorcycles were entering. I got on again, started the bike and went to the place. Here you will see the "parking lot" assigned for the event. My friend Fikri parked my bike all the way to the back. In a few minutes that whole area was filled to capacity.
I was struck by seeing police officers in charge of controlling traffic and relieving the congestion that the wedding was causing.
Muslim weddings have a very peculiar tradition. They place a kind of urn at the entrance for guests to deposit a cash gift as they arrive.
A quick overview of the reception.
Next, leave a record of attendance.
Eating food without tables or chairs is most common in Indonesia, whether sitting on the floor or squatting is a normal sight
Of course, the food is abundant and very varied. In this wedding there were 2 identical stations, on both sides of the entrance, first they start with white rice, is the base of any Indonesian meal and essential in the Asian diet. Then noodles, next skewers of Sate (grilled pieces of meat on bamboo sticks), shrimp, vegetables, salads, soup and at the end of the buffet in transparent containers you will see something that they consume a lot here called Kerupuk, (pronounced krupuk) small pieces of flour crackers. Always available in any dining room in Indonesia and in a wide variety of presentations.
At the back of the room was a station with ice cream, desserts, fruits, and drinks. And finally on the right a small station dedicated to the most popular soup in Indonesia called Bakso which is a soup of small meatballs served with vegetables and noodles.
With plate in hand, I went to the adjoining room where there were only chairs, not tables. My friends pulled chairs and we sat in one group. I do not remember how many times I stood up and walked to serve myself again but I ate until I was satisfied. Those who know me know what I mean 😉😋
At the end I made the decision to start a live session on Facebook to show this unique experience to my fellow Westerners. As I was streaming Fikri indicated to me that the ceremony had already begun and he took me to the place where it was happening. I walked to a smaller adjoining room with fewer chairs and in the background a decorated set occu