What happens when three heathens and a Jew set off from Bali across the Java Sea to Borneo in the middle of Hanukkah? Light winds and pleasant days, it turns out. We’ve been worried about being the last boat through Indonesia this season. Perhaps we’ve been lucky, but the weather has been pleasant and easy for most of our trip and our thought is if you’re leaving Australia late, don’t fret too much. The bonus of being later in the season is you’ll have just about every anchorage to yourself and the flies…
|colourful boats and spa day|
To date our passages have been similar to those we’ve read about; light winds and the occasional rain squall. We dodged one particularly intense squall (lightning but not wind) on our way to Kumai. But most of our days were spent admiring a flat sea and the flamboyant fishing boats that ply the waters. Here and there we got a few hours of sailing but it stayed pretty calm the whole way across. Each evening we lit the Hanukkah candles and Sarah tried to teach Maia the ancient prayers. When it turned dark, we watched the AIS for big ships, and squinted into the dark for signs of fishing boats and tugs.
Rain of biblical proportion greeted us when we arrived in Kumai, making us wonder just how much rain there really is in rainy season. But as we settled into our anchorage and finally started our Christmas preparations (decorating, wrapping gifts and turning Indonesian meat into mince for our Christmas Eve tourtiere) the sun shone. And then we were visited by Adi, who is arranging our tour to Camp Leakey—to see Orangutans and who’s also getting us diesel and having our laundry done. Goodness, we’ll miss Indonesia…
Christmas Eve, on an exotic river, in a far away land was kept familiar with traditions we’ve accumulated along our journey. We added a new movie (how did I miss “A Christmas Story”?!) and Dylan Thomas’ reading “A Child’s Christmas in Wales”. And we ate tourtiere and Maia’s Christmas treats.
Maia, the teen goes to bed later than Maia the kid used to do, so the grownups stayed up longer than planned. Christmas morning we were woken at 4am morning by a chorus of Muezzins calling out across the Kumai River, drowning out the soothing jungle sounds. The Muezzins woke Charlie the cat, who woke Maia the teen (who’s still a child at Christmas), who rewoke us, and by 6am, as the Muezzins began their second call (which we’re guessing had nothing to do with the birth of Jesus), we were opening stockings. By 8am the gifts were open and our 6th Christmas afloat (and our second with our dear friend Sarah) was well underway.
We’re so grateful that we have this incredible opportunity to spend familiar holidays in unfamiliar places; to mix the wonder of the world with the comfort of home. We’re reminded of the friends and family we deeply miss, and those we’re yet to meet, and wish each of you the happiest of Christmases.