We disembarked the Al Isra at Gili Air, a patch of sand with some trees off the coast of Lombok. Gili Air is a smallish island that is trying to compete for Gili Trawangan's share of the tourist market. The reef is mostly dead, the beach is covered with sharp broken coral and the food unspectacular. The waiters, while fast at taking your food orders, then wander off and forget all about you. It's the bliss of pot combined with the island's all too common magic mushrooms that's to blame we were told.
After a couple of days we decided to try Gili Meno. It's much quieter here, there's a sand beach and even a somewhat healthy reef. And it's where we found Mimpi Manis (Sweet Dreams) the great little place we're stayng. It also has a beachfront restaurant called Rusty's that serves good chow. Even the service is excellent. Rusty, the female owner was born on Meno and she watches over the staff and runs the place with iron efficiency. Elenka and I even have our own cat. We call him Cojones el Grande. Yesterday Renate, whose English is less than perfect, came over to play with the cat. She asked el Grande if he understood English. I broke in saying that the animals of Indonesia recognize that in a global economy English is not just an asset but a must. They both stared back at me blankly, neither understanding exactly what I'd said.
Last night while Renate dined on squid, Elenka on mahi-mahi and I on a sandwich of some sort, we could actually hear the waves of the sea. There are no booming sound systems on Meno. When we went back to our cabina, damned if we couldn't hear the creatures of the night. We should have come to Gili Meno in the first place.
This following morning Elenka and I said good bye to Renate. She headed east to meet up with a friend in Lombok. We climbed aboard the fast-boat west to Bali.
Back in Bali:
When Elenka and I first arrived in Bali we chose the reasonably upscale POP Hotel on Kuta Beach for our first night. Because we'd liked it, we decided to end our Indonesian excursion on a good note. Big mistake. I got up this morning at six o'clock, planning to head for the hotel lobby in search of coffee. Then I heard the noises. The first attack to my senses, as I left our room and entered the lobby, were the smells that wafted from our neighbours wide-open rooms. It was as though they were boiling their previous day's garbage. Then came an explosion of screaming, giggling children, running free as they might in a McDonald's playroom. As I pushed the elevator button I heard the voice of an angry woman, telling everyone to shut up. Then a sweetness came from the anger that only I could recognize. It was Elenka.
At seven, when the pool opened, I went down for a morning dip. The big people and their unruly children had already arrived. The parents were dipping their diapered tots into the chlorinated pool. I felt my stomach heave as I backed away, still looking. Once the initial garment whitening was complete the adults whipped the stool keepers off the kids and put the little noise makers back into the pool so they could have a good, proper rinse.
Good bye and good luck Indonesia.