The trouble with being on holiday is that you forget what day of the week it is! Sunday, as it happens; a day on which Indonesian people seem to descend upon the beach as the light fades. Perhaps in some spiritual ritual, or just to celebrate being alive. I must ask someone in the know! For us, Sunday morning meant school work again for the boys; grammar, numbers, maths, comprehension etc. Then after that a wee bit of shopping for essentials – some washing powder, pegs, lunch (a sort of cup-o-soup with noodles and chicken), coca cola, and some apple juice for Mateo; he has been sorely disappointed that no place we have eaten does apple juice, and the one place that did made it freshly squeezed which he did not like one bit!
After our wonderful lunch, Tania did the decent thing and elected to do the washing whilst I took the boys to the beach. Senggigi beach is shaped rather like the sound holes on the violin, a kind of reversed f with a curly tail. This time, rather than going to the right we went to the left and walked all the way along to the top where there was a large reef over the edge of which crashed the waves some 50 metres out in the bay. Here the waves were much calmer, but after our previous experience on this beach we had not brought the snorkel and mask, only the flippers to protect our feet from the rocks and broken coral. I had also omitted to include the floats in my packing for the beach, so it was an epic fail on my part!
Whilst the boys played in the shallows of the clear blue and then scrambled the nearby rocks to hunt in rock pools for crabs, I chatted with an American lady whose two sons soon joined up with mine to terrorise the indigenous sealife in their rocky havens. Her husband had a flight school in Mataram and they have all recently come over to Lombok to live for a year of two. As beach seller after beach seller came up she dismissed them with the weary demeanour of someone who had heard the same spiel more times than was reasonable, and was perhaps a little bit fed up with it.
Afore long Tania hoved into view, floating angelically over the white sands, wrapped in billowing sarong, flip flops dangling nonchalantly from hand and smiling a large smile. Responsible adult in place I parted to fetch snorkel, mask and floats and, it goes without saying, biscuits. Finally we could get out and explore the reef and plunge it’s depths for treasures; not that it was very deep, you could stand all the way to the end where the waves broke. No matter, we would skim its shallows for treasures instead. Once past the broken and dead coral near the beach, small, brightly coloured fish appeared and swum around us. Then pale and speckled flatter fish, black angel-type fish and a few other species joined the mix.
We swam through the channels in the coral hungry for more, and rounding a corner we spotted another long thin snake-like thing weaving its way in and out of the rocks and crevices. Ok, the chances of seeing one sea snake are small, but two in two days…. this one was white with a strange mottled diamond shape in brown. It elegantly swam along paying us no heed as we backed off and headed for shore. Later investigation revealed this was in fact a snowflake eel rather than a snake.
As the day drew to a close I was joined on the beach by an Indonesian man with one eye slightly askew. He introduced himself as Finn and began a long speech (at the end of which I was expecting the sales pitch and merchandise) about how mostly we want to sell you things but I am not selling (yeah right!). I have a school of 200 students and teach extra English at my house (Oh! I wonder where this is going?) I come to the beach on Sunday with my students so that they can practice their English – would you be OK if my students practiced with you? (Did not see that coming at all).
So, as the sun set I was joined by four students who introduced themselves and then proceeded to ask me the same questions. What is your name, where are you from, how long have you been here, how long are you staying, what are your hobbies… etc. Bizarely enough these are exactly the same questions that the beach sellers ask you, so I was soon wondering if I had met the Indonesian Fagin and these were some of his “boys”. Such flippancy does no justice to the man. He works at the school run for the poorest children of the Senggigi area and he was kind and sincere, and his students charming and some a little shy. As the sun sank lower I was joined by more and more students (and Tania and the boys too) and we had soon splintered off into little workshops, Oskar holding court with his own collection of students, and Luca and Mateo looked at and giggled over by the girls.
Finally as evening fell we made to pack up and leave. At this point Finn asked if we would like to come and visit his school the next morning and perhaps speak with some more of the children. We said we would be delighted and arrangements were made for Finn to come a fetch us at 9am from our Home Stay. The boys were sold on the idea not so much by going to see the school, but by the fact that we would be going on the scooters again!!
After an unremarkable dinner we retired to our slumbers with excited thoughts of tomorrow, and a mild feeling of trepidation over what we may have let ourselves in for. That said, one of the reasons we wanted to do this trip was to interact with the local populous, so the day ended on a really very positive note.