The rolly NW swell eased to dead calm, so we slept on deck under the sparkling southern stars and awoke to the haunting pre-dawn call to prayer. We were picked up promptly at six-thirty and taken, Sean behind the school teacher and me behind one of the students, to... the school teacher's house for photos. At the appointed time, we headed to the school. With some ceremony along with the obligatory photos, we signed the visitors' book and headed to the classroom.
Sean and I have recently read 'The Rainbow Troops' by Andrea Hirata. It is an autobiographical tale of a young boy growing up in abject poverty on Belitung and the battle that he, his classmates and teachers had to, not only stay at school, but also to save the school from closure. He has gone on to become Indonesia's most successful author. A wonderful read!
While the school we were at was not a rundown, single room school in 1970's, we recognised some of the elements described in the book. The pictures above the board, the austere desks and chairs filled with students. Not a book, nor an electronic aid, other than the smart phones madly snapping!
In the book, the teacher did not draw a salary. She sewed in the evenings to support herself to enable her to teach. We thought this was an anomaly. We were very surprised to find it is not. Pak Supaji has a government job as a teacher and is paid a salary along with the other benefits of employment. We were invited into another English class taught by Pak Adi. Pak Adi does not have a government position. He is paid Rp300k (about $30) a month to teach. He supports himself and his family by raising chickens. He teaches because he loves it and strongly believes in education.
|Pak Adi (left) and Pak Supaji (right)|
|Pak Supaji's class|
Pak Supaji's grasp on spoken English was poor and only a couple of kids were brave enough to speak. They were interested in our photos of snow and became widely excited when we opened the floor to selfies!
|Posing for a 'selfie'|
|Pak Adi's class|
|Again, great enthusiasm for selfies|
|Love this photo!|
|The main entrance to the school|
After school, we were dropped back at Hartono's house. He had arrange a friend with a car to take us on a tour of the island. So off we headed, Hartono escorting us on his motorbike, the friend with the car, the friend's best buddy, Akna, Firman, the four of us, another buddy (who we picked up along the way) and Grandpa!
First stop: the lake in the caldera and waterfall that it fed. Bawean is volcanic and rugged. It is also has very limited infrastructure, particularly when you are in a Toyota Kijang (similar to a scaled-down Pajero SUV). The single-lane, roughly paved roads are perfectly adequate for scooter traffic ... but add a car or two and things get interesting! There was a lot of backing up, pulling over and "breathing in" to allow us to negotiate the winding mountain road. A stop at "Buddy's" house for him to upgrade his scooter and to pop Sean on the back ("I practice my English with you") and off to the hot springs we convoyed.
|Some of the 'Tour Group'|
|Hiking to the lake|
|Selfie! We have flowers in our hair...|
|At the trail head to the lake|
Next Stop: Kolum Air Panas. Banff has nothing on this place for HOT WATER. Access is via a steep, narrow, water-eroded dirt track - through a village where you 'toot' at the boom gate to pay the princely 20-cents-per-vehicle entry fee - then bounce further up the track, over the football pitch to the blue pavilion on the edge of the forest. Who can possibly claim that tourism on Bawean is limited by its lack of infrastructure? The "bath" is built directly over the source and is so hot it is uncomfortable to even dip in your hand. Surprisingly, unlike Banff, we had this hot tourist draw all to ourselves!
Stop Three: Pulau Gili. We piled back into (or onto) our respective vehicles and took off for the pier overlooking Pulau Gili. Colourful fishing boats anchored off the mangroves and we had a wonderful view across the azure water to the white, sandy beaches of the island itself. It was decided the trip across to see the island was unnecessary, so off we went for lunch at the warung at the base of the pier. Es Tay (ice tea), nasi goreng, ikan bakar, cumi cumi ... eleven people fed for the princely sum of $22.50 CDN.
|Kate tearing along on the back of a scooter.|
Where's your helmet, Kate?
|The warung where we ate lunch|
11 people for the grand total of $22.50!
Hunger sated, we climbed back into our conveyance and back into the mountains we went. Winding up and around the narrow roads, we had no idea where we were headed. Weren't we pleasantly surprised to find the convoy stopping at THE ONLY swimming pool in all of Bawean! Fed by a cool mountain spring, this gem was wonderfully refreshing as we all jumped in. It was the coldest water we had swum in for months! We were told this is a favourite haunt of the whole island on weekends and holidays, with scooters parked up and down the road for a kilometre.
|Horsing around in the pool|
|Shower under the fountain|
Coming out of the pool cool (oh my goodness, you have no idea how good that felt) and sparkling clean from the fresh, non-chlorinated, non-salty spring water, we now happily piled in the back into our motorcade and headed down the mountain, around the bottom of the island and plunged back into the mountains once again. This time, at the end of the narrow, winding road we came to the deer sanctuary. The Bawean Deer is on the red list for critically endangered critters. There are only a couple hundred individuals left, and they exist in two separate populations. They are a small, squat deer, similar to the African Bush Babies. Endemic only to Bawean, their survival, sadly, is tenuous.
Deer observed, it was down the mountain and back to Hartono's. Sean, kidnapped yet again, failed to arrive. He had been whisked off to Buddy's brother's house. With no mobile phone signal, he was held hostage until all the household had been met and tried their English on him, he had eaten some snack offerings, accepted a gift of biscuits and a final torrent of selfies had been taken. Firman and I were bending it like Beckham on the front porch.
|This young dude reckons I can |
'bend it like Beckham'!
Towards the end of our visit, it was decided that Hartono, his buddy and Hartono's kids needed to see OUR home (Popeye). So transportation was arranged for those that didn't have their own scooters - namely, a three-wheeled motor trike with a homemade tray on the back. So there we were - five kids, Heather, Charles and us - bouncing along river rock-strewn goat-path-cum-roadways, on our way for an evening visit to Popeye.
All of this done without seatbelts, helmets or concern for our life or limb ...
|... except for Charles. He was sensibly terrified.|