| 6:00 AM local time, Sunday, Nov. 11 (2230 Nov. 10 UTC) (Sorry about the
date last time) 08 44 S 115 13 E. Temp. 79, Humidity 78%, Cloud Cover
15%. Bali Marina, Benoa Harbor, Bali, Indonesia.
Greetings from the crew of Maverick.
We arrived yesterday morning in Benoa after picking our way through the
reef and took a berth at the Bali Marina. The people here facilitated
our acquisition, through an agent in Jakarta, of a cruising permit for
Indonesia, something which to our knowledge cannot be accomplished
without employing an agent who presumably uses part of your $130 fee for
bribes. A move is afoot, partly by Dick McCune, the manager here, to
either streamline or eliminate the month-long processing of the permits,
which may line a few people's pockets but also deprive others of the
income which could be generated by attracting more boats.
The eight-day sail from Darwin, about 1000 miles, was easy after we
gained our offing from Darwin and the Beagle Gulf, wherein we were
forced to tack against light northwesterlies and unfavorable current. By
about the third day we were able to fetch our first waypoint and after
that it was mostly a close reach in 10-15 knots with sunny skies, past
Timor, Sumba, Sumbawa, and Lombok. We have been knocking off these
thousand mile passages without much fuss, having seen no rough seas
since Fiji, and may be a little softened up.
Benoa harbor is notoriously dirty, smelly, crowded, and noisy, and if
this were all that characterized it, it wouldn't hold many attractions.
But it is in Bali, and Bali is a pretty unusual place to be. We can
handle the rest.
Today we took a half-hour, two-dollar cab ride into Denpasar, the
largest city on the island, and toured the main temple and the bazaar in
the middle of town. Throughout the Pacific we had been to the
traditional markets where vendors sell produce, and if they were not so
dark inside we would have sent pictures. They generally consist of a
large number of privately run stalls under what has now in most places
become a permanent roof. Although they are a bit exotic to the person
raised with Safeways, we'd gotten used to them. But this was really on a
completely different plane.
Downtown Denpasar is very busy and chockablock with motorbikes. And
once inside the dark, labyrinthine market, the crowding is overwhelming.
Stalls with baskets of fresh produce and cages of live poultry are so
tightly packed together that the vendors may be sitting on their wares
and the aisles are not sufficiently wide for two people to comfortably
pass, particularly if one encounters, as often happens, someone carrying
a fifty pound bag of lemons. (This is best accomplished, because of the
cramped space, by putting the parcel on one's head.) The vast area,
packed with chattering local people, is not paved so one walks through
mud the entire way, and the stench of decaying vegetable matter and
whatever which has been dropped and walked on is enough for the
uninitiated to quite lose any appetite for fruit or vegetables he may
have had. Women approach you, pulling at your shirt and asking where you
are going, to attempt to become employed as your interpreter and no
doubt guide you to the produce of their relatives. Any encouragement at
all will have them trailing you throughout your entire outing. Our
experience there, though brief, will not soon pass from memory.
Bali is 90% Hindu and temples seem to be on every other block.
Nearly every dwelling hosts a shrine in front with its daily offering to
the gods, which in one's home will be primarily ancestral, a Balinese
modification of the practice of India. Muslims, Christians, and
Buddhists make up the remainder of the population. Our bartender here at
the marina is a Muslim but says he is not a "fanatic" and doesn't mind
serving alcohol, prohibited for him. Ship's Interviewer Terry Shrode
managed to ask him the obvious question about New York. He said that in
his view Mr. bin Laden, or is it Mr. Laden or Mr. Osama, should go to
America, turn himself in and face the punishment. This unlikely scenario
was presented matter-of-factly, and surely is quite a bit more than he
needed to say just to appear friendly. He seemed to really think this
was the appropriate and just solution. He also was proud to point out
that one of his brothers is Christian, and another is Hindu, and they
get along fine. I suspect one of the themes in the coming weeks of these
dispatches could be that Muslims may fail to fit into a stereotype.
The reader may justifiably question our use of bartenders as a source
for representations of general views on important matters. But the fact
is, one is not easily placed in an intimate enough setting with the
local people to comfortably broach delicate subjects, though at times
the Captain has been known to throw caution, and manners, aside to get
his facts. Bartenders the world over are used to the talk that occurs in
front of them. Like cab drivers, they are models of discretion when
called for, and willing sounding boards and educators when asked. I
recommend them to searchers of the truth everywhere.
PS to Feller: Well, OK, but Berkeley is not really a city, is it? Plus,
Berkeley, the Bishop, wasn't really so much of a scientist as a
metaphysician, wasn't he? Plus, are you belittling Professor Kalamazoo
and his groundbreaking work on the theory and practice of Boombah?
PS to Hank: Well, I also confirmed on the Endeavor that "The cat is out
of the bag" refers to the cat-o-nine-tails being taken out of the bag
wherein it is stowed, for disciplinary use, even though the connection
between that context and current usage is not quite linear.
TECHNICAL NOTE: When we left home, for a time we sent our missives from
the boat by changing the bits to radio signals and transmitting them via
high frequency radio to a station in Palo Alto that automatically
converted the radio waves back into bits and sent them through the
Internet to you. As we moved along, it became easier to contact a
station in Hawaii, then Australia, and now we come to you through the
good offices of the people of the Islamic sultanate of Brunei.
Next Report from this location: Ain't No Bali High Enough
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