Banana Pancake Diplomacy

Peregrina's Journey
Peter and Margie Benziger
Tue 16 Aug 2011 11:34
Position Report - 08:20.762122:59.200E

Banana Pancake Diplomacy
Peregrina was one of ten Sail Indonesia Rally boats to visit the town of Larantuka on the eastern end of the island of Flores, Indonesia.
Not many visitors come here, so that the local government very generously provided us with a formal ceremonial greeting and activities agenda for our visit.


We were greeted at the beach and given headdresses in the shape of birds. We wore these all night.


The King and the Regent, Yoseph Lagadoni Herin (head of government), performed the ritual greeting. It consists of an offering of the local distilled spirit, followed by a homemade cigarette and chewing a beetle nut with lime. The King first spills a bit of the local spirit onto the ground to commemorate his ancestors and then drinks. We did the same and then tried the cigarette (briefly) and chewed a beetle nut with lime powder.  My personal recommendation is not to swallow any of the beetle nut (which I did) since your stomach will want to send it rapidly back up.

The ladies danced a beautiful swooping choreography which is very graceful as they led us up from the beach to the Regent’s house.

At the regents home we were each presented with traditional Indonesian scarves and greeted by the entire government.  The King is a ceremonial position and the current King’s son will become King when his father dies. The Regent is the head of the government and is elected for a five year term.


A wonderful meal was served with tasty dishes, most of which we could not identify. There was whale meat and, of course, the symbolic cigarette smoking chicken which symbolized their heartfelt greeting.
[Dancing girls]
Our dinner had entertainment with dancing girls and also several of the key governmental officials singing us songs using a microphone and speakers. Even the Regent sang to us. It was quite an honor to have the upper level of government sing songs of welcome.

During the dinner and dancing I made friends with one of the little girls. I always carry stickers, balloons, lollipops and treats for the kids. This little girl danced with me and ended up sitting in my lap. As it turns out, she was the Regent’s daughter so, after dinner, I asked the Regent if he would like to visit Peregrina. He accepted and told us he would visit the next morning.

The regent and the about six of his top officials arrived with eager faces. They were so interested in Peregrina and we showed them everything  including the engine, batteries, electronics, galley, heads, storage etc…

They tried on the life vest, had a wonderful time cranking winches and stood behind the steering wheel.  When we showed them a map of the 16,000 miles traveled from Miami to Indonesia they asked in amazement: “ Just you two?”

We made a formal speech of appreciation with a presentation of gifts to the government including a Coral Reef Yacht Club flag.

It is customary to provide food to guests. It is a sign of respect and sincere welcome. On Peregrina, the government of Laratuka was served an American breakfast of banana pancakes with butter and maple syrup.  They looked at their plates dubiously but, after the first bite, they were hooked.  Even the solemn looking head of the government, the Regent, broke into a giant smile.

Banana pancake diplomacy was a success!

Best regards to all
Peter and Margie Benziger