Sumba is not easy
Trip Start Jun 12, 2012
35Trip End Jul 17, 2012
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It's taken me two full days to get a feel for Sumba. I have
to admit, right off the bat, I was absolutely terrified.
First of all, the flight: the flight attendants were hot and
useless. An hour and a half flight, and these girls did nothing
wearing the shortest skirts I’ve seen as part of a uniform, and they yawned
through the safety procedure. Then the two of them went to the back of the
plane, ate, and did their nails… literally. About 20 minutes in, the first
officer (I’m hoping he wasn’t the pilot) came to the back and proceeded to hit
on the two girls while they yawned and continued reading magazines. There was
no water, no nothing. They didn’t even move from their seats THE ENTIRE FLIGHT. It was literally
the worst service I have ever seen.
When I landed, the bags were jammed into little carts, and
two guys muscled them from the plane to the terminal while both the departing and
arriving people stood around waiting for an announcement.
The two ladies from Holland and I were the only white faces
in about 200 people. The baggage handler – who just finished unloading the
plane – grabbed my bags and we made our way through a throng of people towards
The airport looked like something out of Africa. There were
200 people on the other side of the fence, just staring in at the passengers –
young, old – all crushing up against each other to look. At the exit, a tiny
door that looked very similar to my kitchen door, was jammed with ten people
looking in. If there was any security, I didn’t see it.
A man stood there, roughly my age, with a placard with my
name and the Sumba Nautil, the place I’m staying. We pushed our way through the
people, the baggage handler and I, as the other guy went to grab the car.
We got all our bags in the car, I grabbed my camera, and he
grinned through the red-stained teeth of a beetle-nut addict as he jammed the
car into first gear and threw on his ipod. With the subwoofer in back, the rap
music pumping, and the windows tinted, the Dihatsu SUV took off, passing
cars at an alarming rate and barreling down a huge, wide road that was in
We stopped so I could get water, and then I had another
taste of Sumba. I grabbed two bottles and a coke, and I could not for the life
of me figure out what numbers the girl was saying. Eventually she had to put
the number on a calculator and push it across. She wasn’t happy. But her eyes
lit up when I pulled out about 400,000 rp (about $35). It felt like suddenly I
was made of gold. A guy came from the other side of the store and started
asking me, "Where are you staying?"
It was menacing and uncomfortable and I headed out back to
my beetle-nut friend with the stereo blasting crappy pop tunes and off we went.
The drive was roughly an hour. We didn’t talk. I shot a ton
of pictures. Pictures of trucks with Harley Davidson stickers on the back
window with a half dozen people hanging from the roof, pictures of large vistas
filled with rice paddies and papaya, even pictures of water buffalo and horses
trodding down the main highway.
I am not in Bali anymore, that’s for sure.
The highlight was coming up on a beautiful vista going 40
mph and “What’s Going On?” blaring through the shitty speakers. I’ve never
identified with that song more. I even took this video with my phone.