Posts Tagged ‘Tolitoli’


‘Can I say I love you?’
The little Ema pulled us away from the main road and into the village to visit her school.
‘You are very sexy. Can I hug you?’
Clement hugged her. So did I. She held her gloved hand up to her mouth to hide her giggle. At her school, we greeted the teachers and played chasee with the kids. Our first day in Sulawesi was amazing.

Clement and Ema

Clement and Ema

Mountains loomed just behind Tolitoli, and after 10km of flat and good road surface, the road degraded and started its up and down through the most beautiful landscape. The hills were covered with a tree we didn’t recognize until we looked closely. Yes! They are cloves. I ate one – an explosion of flavour. In each village the cloves were drying in the sun, and the air was perfumed by the lovely aroma.

Cloves

Cloves

The road passed through the mountains, and past flat plains – I think covered in water half of the time. The road was tiny with almost no traffic. When we stopped, the sound of silence was deafening. We were alone in this beautiful tropical paradise.

Clement

Clement

Water fields

Water fields

The evening saw the rain come, and we struggled up and down through the forest in the rain before retiring in a little collection of huts near the sea. We talked with everyone from the village in the light of the kerosene lamp inside the tin roofed wooden hut on stilts.


I lay swinging in the hammock looking out into the night as the ferry steamed forward. My abode was in a quiet corner of the boat, above the people layed sprawled on the ground a few metres below. And then, I saw her again – the southern cross. Throughout the night she rotated, staying framed in my small ferry window, telling me how close I was to home.

Sunset

Sunset

The ferry was much smaller than I expected – and apparently new and much bigger than its predecessor. People were lying on the floor everywhere, and densely packed in the sleeping quarters which were hot, stuffy and a bit smoky (but not as bad as I had feared). The television was running there 24/7, and the karaoke was a form of entertainment in the main area. It was going to be a long trip – 28 hours or so. We headed for the roof, which, even though it was covered, was blisteringly hot. Clement had the bright idea of setting up my hammock in one of the remote areas of the ferry up a little ladder. We took turns staying there – a very cool location with a nice fresh breeze.

Passengers

Passengers

Our pre-departure morning was fun. The kids at the school were waiting outside our room very patiently and politely. After a talk with the lovely headmistress, I was told to inspire the children. I did my best..

Talking to the school children

Talking to the school children

Then we went through a very orderly round of selfies, one class at a time.

Class selfie

Class selfie

We were escorted to the boat terminal by four guys from the Tarakan cycling club, and each given a jersey. Great people! Finally, we were interviewed by the local Tarakan newspaper before waiting 3 hours for the delayed departure.

The Tarakan cycling club

The Tarakan cycling club

At last we are on Sulawesi island – the most coolly shaped island in the world – and from all accounts a beautiful island. Our first impression is a nice one. We were given a warm welcome for the night in the restaurant opposite the ferry terminal. Now its time for a stationary sleep – athough I can still feel the ground moving…