“You never know what the day will bring”, “Every day’s an adventure”, “Expect the unexpected” are just some of the cruising mantras that reflect the notion that nothing is certain except uncertainty when you live a cruising life. You expect wind from the south? You’ll get wind from the north. You’re looking forward to a quiet day of doing nothing? Something will break and you’ll have to fix it. Sometimes the surprises are unpleasant, sometimes the surprises are wonderful – and sometimes they’re just plain bizarre.
On this particular quiet Sunday, we’re anchored in the gorgeous bay around the corner from Cape Papisol, on our way to Triton Bay. We’ve been sitting here for a couple of days waiting for Aguabago to join us, doing a couple of dives, and generally enjoying this peaceful, out-of-the-way spot. There’s a new village being built here with a handful of dwellings already constructed, but the pace of life is slow. We’ve had a couple of visitors come out to the boat – a father and son paddled out in their dugout to say hello, and we gave them some biscuits and soft drinks, but the language barrier makes any meaningful conversation frustratingly difficult. Most people wave as they go past, but that’s about it.
So. on this casual Sunday afternoon I’m in the galley multi-tasking by making beef Massaman curry for dinner and making bread. I confess that bread-making is my least favourite activity and my least-accomplished skill. Especially in the heat. I seem to have a knack of getting covered in flour and dough, and with the combination of sweat pouring off me I do a very good impression of a soggy bun. It’s at exactly this point that Bruce declares “We’ve got visitors”. I poke my head out the doorway and see two boatloads of people racing towards us with intent. Uh oh, these are not locals from the village, they look too official. Are we in trouble from the local authorities? There’s no time to clean up or exchange my bra-less, daggy, floury state for something a little more acceptable. Or to grab a mask. Before we know it, they’ve tied up and jumped aboard without so much as a by-your-leave or a mask to be seen (well, one person is wearing a mask under their chin). They’re smartly dressed – one’s in army fatigues, there’s one woman and about ten men – and now all these strangers have crowded into our cockpit. What the..???
They’re all smiles and laughter, so we’re obviously not in trouble, but my limited Indonesia doesn’t help solve the mystery of the invasion. They ask if the other boats in the anchorage are friends of ours and if they speak Indonesian. Yes, and yes! I quickly dob Carol in as the Bahasa Indonesia expert among us, and within a few minutes she, Murray, and Kevin off ‘Aguabago’ have been nicely, but insistently, invited to attend the impromptu party on our boat by Mr Army Man. I keep hearing the word ‘Bupati’ which I think means mayor, so maybe we have the local mayor on board? Carol confirms my suspicions, and everyone nods enthusiastically – Ya, ya, Bupati No 1!!” It seems the mayor of the local province, Kaimana, is on a Sunday outing and keen to press the flesh with foreign visitors. Through Carol, we discover his entourage includes the Chief of Police, and a bodyguard (Army Man) who just happens to be the husband of the woman who’s so keen to hug us all and get selfies. Oh boy! There’s nothing for it but to succumb to the endless photos (Indonesians love their selfies) and be grateful that at least we aren’t going to fall foul of the local authorities.
On an even more bizarre note, once we get to Triton Bay we tell Jimmy, the owner of Triton Bay Divers, about our encounter and he asks to see a photo. “No, that’s definitely not the Bupati” he says. “No idea who that guy is”. Ha ha ha, that’s hilarious! After some more discussions with his staff, it turns out that our visitor wasn’t exactly an imposter, but not entirely truthful either. It seems we entertained the Vice-Bupati – Bupati No 2, masquerading as Bupati No 1. Ah well, there’s nothing like talking yourself up, I guess.
And it’s true – you never know what the day will bring!