Mobbed

Trip Start Jan 15, 2012
1
15
17
Trip End Ongoing


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Where I stayed
SV Island Prism

Flag of Indonesia  , East Nusa Tenggara,
Monday, September 3, 2012

Our first evening anchored off Flores felt like pure insanity.  Persian Sands arrived first, and radioed to us that they had quite the welcoming party.  As we rounded the headland into the bay, we saw them surrounded by eight or so outriggers.  Receiving visitors was inevitable, but we hadn't realised it would be more like an invasion. 

We were looking for a spot to anchor when they came racing towards us, paddling like mad, each boat containing three or four people.  Mostly kids, tweens and teens, with the odd adult amongst them.  They closed in on us and I was terrified that the momentum of Prism would capsize their little craft.  We peeled away and circled round again, motioning for them to stay away.  They gave us a bit more room this time, and we found a satisfactory spot to drop the anchor.  Jim released the hook, but I'm sure it hadn't touched the bottom before the children rowed in close again, grabbing onto the rails and banging their wooden dugouts against poor Prism's already tatty paintwork.  We had to get them to move off again so I could set the anchor safely.

For the next few hours we were surrounded.  The visit was motivated partly by curiousity and partly by greed.  Some of the older children could hold a basic conversation, and most of the kids knew how to ask our names.  We called out "Salamat malam!" and asked the children their names in return, and answered questions about where we were from.  Soon the clamouring requests started- "sweet," "t-shirt," "hat," "sunglasses," "pen-for-school," "book-for-school," "Coca Cola," "earring."  There was no way we had enough stuff for all of these children.  One girl indicated that she wanted my engagement ring, other little hands tried to sneak away pieces of rope from the cockpit.  It became overwhelming, we were hot, tired and hungry, we wanted to shower and rest and the children showed no signs of going, even when we said "Goodbye, salamat tingal!"  I didn't want to reward this mobbing behaviour by giving gifts, and had nothing to give such a horde of children even if we'd chosen to bribe our way out of the situation.  After a couple of hours of non-stop hounding we retreated down below, closed the hatch doors and hoped they would go away.  The cries of 'Hello Mister! 'Hello Missus!' continued for some time, but eventually the children became bored with the lack of gifts and entertainment and headed home. 

Three girls in a canoe paddled out offering coconuts for sale.  I'd had enough of visitors by this stage, but Jim was more tolerant than I and bought us one each.  The milk inside was sweet and refreshing, just what we needed.  A young man in a dugout offered us bananas.  Jim purchased a bunch and, after much haggling, agreed on a mutually acceptable price for a small bag of tomatoes.  Peter invited us for dinner on the catamaran, and the rest of the evening was gloriously peaceful.
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