Luna Quest
W. Eric Faber
Sat 12 Sep 2015 04:23
Gile Gede is a small island off the Southwest of Lombok. Its anchorage is very sheltered and the sun rises almost directly overhead. There is no protection from the heat, which at 11am is already up to 95F. Our fridge is whirring away all the time, especially as we filled it last night from yesterday's shopping at the end of our 2-day tour.

Our 2-day tour took, which we organised with a private agency, took us into the very heart of Lombok. We stopped where we pleased to explore life in the villages and wherever we went and stopped, we were always impressed by the friendliness and good-nature of the people. There is no social security in Lombok and income taxes do not seem to exist. Everybody is working and nowhere did we come across any begging. The lame and the sick are cared for by their families. In one upland agricultural village we saw an old lady (90+) pulling a large bag of crop in from the land. She was so stooped over that her back projected at 90 degrees from her legs. She was blind in one eye and toothless, but very pleased to see us. Her daughter (or daughter-in-law) was at home with the children repairing the long grass roofs or walls (made of bamboo weaving) or repairing the damaged floor surface with clay and cowdung. There is no sanitation other than a standpipe or two and holes in the ground with bamboo shuttering around. Flies appear to thrive. Goats and cows are kept tethered in an open but covered wooden structure for their milk, while chickens and cockerels freely roam the dirt paths among the hovels. There are no roads in the villages. It is the dry season now and the villages look relatively clean although there is no system for the disposal of rubbish. Food is prepared on open fires either inside or out and rubbish is burned where possible, but otherwise it is randomly strewn about, or where the wind has cornered it.

If a girl wants to be married, she must prove herself in weaving, which she does from the age of 9. When she leaves school at 12, she may be weaving 8 hours a day, sitting crossed legged on the floor in a structure that functions both as loom and back support. The men work in the fields, brick making and building; the bricks are made on the spot from local clay or clay brought down from the mountains. They are dried in the sun and fired by open fire in a nearby field.

On the way to Mataram, the capital city of Lombok, for last minute provisioning, we witnessed an annual event of stick fighting, where two men, bare from the waste up and armed with a wooden shield and a stick, bash one another where they can under strict observation of rules enforced by an umpire. There were thousands of brown faces, 6 rows deep and more standing on their motor cycles and many more in the trees around the arena, but when we came along, the crowd opened up a passage along which we were ushered into the inner circle of thronging spectators as though we were their king and queen and given pride of place. An injured fighter with a deep cut on his head was attended to by his supporters and a medical man, stitched up with needle and thread but relieved from fighting any further. We sat next to the medical man giving Julia a prime opportunity to take plenty of photographs.