Solar Archipelago

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After an overnight passage from Kupang we arrived off the island of Lembata with the dawn.

We motorsailed up the Selat Boleng and as is not unusual we had a lot of tide against us; we arrived at the village of Lewoleba some hours later, anchoring off the main dock.

among the curious passing fishing boats.

The village of Lewoleba was to our left, many of the houses built on stilts over the water.

We went ashore to the village and of course the market.

This island is one of the least developed in Indonesia and Lewoleba the main town, its amenities are basic, but its people as nice as anywhere else.
It is a busy little place and big enough for traffic jams of bemos and ojeks

The market had a good selection of nice fresh fruit and vegetables

also the local style of the ikat

Even though they could be bought for the equivalent of just a few dollars, there’s no doubt that these were the genuine hand-made variety, woven of local grown cotton and tie-dyed in hanks before weaving to create the complex patterns.
Ikat sarongs are made like this through much of Indonesia, but each island uses different colours and individual patterns, as we came to find.

The traders were all keen to be photographed, just to see the tiny picture on the camera digital display being reward enough for them.

Cameras are not commonplace, so there was no shortage of willing and photogenic subjects.

Mostly the buildings were shacks and the facilities primitive, many built over the water,

but the hardware shop at the back of the market was a surprisingly substantial structure.

Fuel in Indonesia is in short supply, often impossible to get, but here we found we were able to take jerry cans to be filled at the local ‘service station’, we waited with the bemos, trucks and ojeks

the diesel was measured out of a drum using a 1 litre can. The litre measure seemed a little smaller than ours? We paid for several more litres than we’ve ever been able to fit into the cans before, but at 2500 Rupiah or about 40c per litre, who’s complaining?
(In many places the filling of jerry cans is banned since the first Bali bombings, that was how the bombers carried their diesel to mix with the fertiliser to make the explosives).

We also took on some water from the supply at the dock, bucketing it out of the well. The boys warned against drinking it, it was good for washing only, as they were.

Lewoleba is near the active volcano Gunung Ili Api, about 1500m high across the bay. It smokes continuously and as the light changed with sunrise the next morning and the fishing boats were returning, there were endless photographic opportunities.

Later in the morning with favourable tide we moved further along the Selat Boleng to the island of Adonara, where we anchored in an idyllic spot of a small sand cay.

The volcano was still not far away.

We had the spot to ourselves and enjoyed excellent swimming and snorkelling around the coral off the cay, then some boys from the nearby village, pearl divers, called by for a friendly visit, -and cigarettes.

Another yacht arrived just with the smoky sunset

we left early in the morning as Ili Api came to life.


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