We all assembled ashore at seven thirty expecting to have a low-key welcome under the gazebo outside the Wakatobi Information Centre. No, we were whisked off in buses to the Regent’s house. There we were not honoured guests seated in the middle, we were to one side with the cheap seats to our right. Our interpreter told us to help ourselves to the buffet and explained each dish.
Rhonnie and Lance (Paw Paw) had plenty of time to pose with a group of ladies as the buffet table was against the wall, meaning a one-way queue. Not sure what the two ladies at the watermelon end were doing but they both looked very smart. Beyond them, in front of the stage are the important guest chairs...........
Elders, chiefs and four kings settled on the stage and someone spoke in Indonesian for ages. The microphone was handed to a man to lead a prayer which was quite long.
Food was blessed, uncovered and everyone was asked to take their shoes off and try a little.
Four wise men look on.
Guides appeared to tell us (Deb) what was going on and we took our seats for the first group of dancers.
Mr Regent took to the stage and spoke for a very long time. His ‘guests’ in front of the stage had a cup of coffee (we had water), every time they clapped he got going again and on and on it went. This was clearly a ‘do’ that was happening and we were tagged on as an afterthought.
On my left John (Afar VI) began to fade, Bear to my right faded and then John gave in. Each had plenty of time to get a power nap in and still Mr Regent went on.
The hysterical part was when the interpreter got back to the stage and we thought we were in for another long ‘do’, he merely spoke three sentences. Well........if that was the gist of it perhaps he could write Mr Regent’s speeches. Grant (El Gato, surname Forbes) was introduced as Mr For Bes to reply and thank on our behalf. Three sentences, three translated sentences and we all cheered. Well done Mr For Bes. Paw Paw is now known as Pow Pow and Beez Neez is now know as Business........
The second dance group. The men in the cheap seats ate from cardboard tuck boxes and the boys had to wake up.
We all went to the stage to be presented with a hand-woven scarf and then the captains had to line up for a presentation.
I had to fight to get through the myriad of photographers (all local, all elbows and one fell off the stage taking a few potted plants with him....) to see Bruce (Matilda) and Bear take possession of their plaques.
Bear with his plaque.
The dancers pulled most of us up for one dance and without a by-your-leave we were outside waiting for the bus. Home by eleven thirty.
ALL IN ALL FOUR OUT OF TWENTY WELCOME CEREMONIES IN THE BAG.......
LOVELY FOOD BUT TOO MANY SPEECHES