Jayapura was supposed to be all about clearing the official hurdles, then getting west- but we had a great time making new friends.
Totem anchored in deep water right off the city center in a spot recommended by Anui, who stopped here last year. The police dock adjacent to a small neighborhood makes for a safe place to leave the dink, and the friendly residents next door offer us a warm welcome.
After days of going back and forth through their neighborhood, we feel like we know them. Selfi has plied us with treats from street vendors in the laneway. Weâve invited the families who live at the waterfront end of the laneway out to Totem, and they descent in masse one afternoon. Itâs hysterical. These families- and most of the neighborhood- is associated with the adjacent intelligence police presenceâ¦we are assured it is a very safe place for us to be.
We had an afternoon of silly fun with the laneway moms and kids
Our first night, we go ashore in search of dinner. We would never have dreamed of setting foot in an PNG town after dark, but here itâs no problem. Not that we make it far- itâs only a few yards past the laneway before a group of stalls lure us with delicious aromas and the promise of noodles. We end up talking to an official from the naval department that manages navigation aids, located next door. After chatting over dinner, he invites us to his office Christmas party the following evening. OK!
The party turns out to be mostly a long ceremony of speeches and skits (with senior officials in costume replaying, but livens up at the end with song and dance performances. It has a surprisingly Christian bent, from the nativity scene at the front of the room to a sermon delivered by a Christian pastor. There is a huge buffet, and the children make me proud by tackling all manner of unidentifiable food. It is delicious, when it isnât too spicy for them. Their highlight was when the big boss walked around and handed each child a 50,000 Rupiah note. Itâs only about US$5, but thatâs a pretty big deal here, where a âtaksiâ ride is $0.20 and dinner out at a Warung is about $2.50. Windfall for the Totem kids!
There were lots of photos. Generallly, the kids looked happy about it. Really.
Heading back to the laneway, we find the tide has gone out, and the dinghy is aground. This normally wouldnât seem like such a big deal, but the stilt houses at the waters edge are basically floating over the worst filth of the harbor. Dirty diapers and other delights make this a haven for rats. Lots of rats. Glorious rats, all around the dinghy and under the house, surfing garbage piles. Jamie rescues us all by retrieving the dinghy to a distance that minimizes our exposure. We all want to shower when we get back to Totem.
The next day, Iâm eager to get some exercise. Itâs been a lot of days either cooped up on the boat or tramping between official offices- I want to get out and stretch my legs, see a little. Thereâs a temple perched temptingly up the hillside behind the anchorage, so I make it my goal.
I set off in the general direction and hope for the best. Jumping under a shelter to wait for a squall to pass through, I talk to the others doing the same. By the time the rain stops five minutes later, two boys are insisting they will take me to the temple.
Following them turns out to be an excellent idea, because I could never have found it on my own. We wind through alleyways with walls I can touch on either side. Several times it feels more like Iâm stepping into someoneâs home, when itâs really a path farther along the mountainside!
Nicest guys. I would definitely have gotten lost without them.
But the view is worth it.
We change anchorages to be closer to Hamadi, where we hope to find fuel and where a large fresh produce market is located. Many curious boats stop by. Some are a little too friendly. One kid decides to let himself on board Sea Glass, and is hustled off. This turns out to mostly be a communication problem. When the boy and his friends come over to Totem, it resolves that they are trying to give us fish and offer a few words of welcome!
Papuan family we befriended near Hamadi
I end up jumping in their boat and following them around the big open air market in Hamadi, where I’m treated to an excellent tour and given advice on what I should be paying for everything. It is a huge help to be able to speak some Indonesian! Iâm so grateful that rusty bahasa, learned 20+ years ago on Bali, is all sliding back into my head.
He comes back again, with his family.