Confusion was set in the last room at Mataram airport.
Taxi drivers approached newcomers with exaggerated determination. Accustomed to these tests, and not therefore immune to irritation, we retired for a few minutes to decide on the best approach and the price around which we would be willing to proceed. Another passenger does the same.
The three of us end up in a corner and the stranger starts talking: “Here's a pretty mess, isn't it? Are you going to the Gili? Look how wonderful. I'm going there too. Want to share the taxi? It's cheaper for us and thus we protect ourselves from the Bangsal mafia.”
Bangsal's Anti-Mafia Solidarity with Aussie Miner Brandon
We agree with the plan. We follow a taxi driver who never takes his eyes off the trio and start the road trip. Along the way, more relaxed, we continued the dialogue that Brandon had inaugurated. We found out a lot more about the aussie timely.
"I work with gold, tell us without going into detail." The ambiguity of the profession leaves us intrigued. Faced with the double insistence, the boy doesn't see how to dodge: “Well, I work in a huge mine in the Australian Northern Territory.
Good money is made but it is exhausting. In such a way that we can only operate six months in a row. This year I couldn't stand it that long. I turned four and decided to take a vacation to recover. That's why I'm here. I've been here several times. The Gili are perfect for lifting spirits!”
We arrived at the north coast of Lombok and the coast of Bangsal. The village is known among those traveling through Indonesia, feared by almost all of its small tourist entrepreneurs trying to deceive anyone passing by on their way to the offshore archipelago.
The taxi driver had promised to help us. He took us straight to friends, owners of a supposedly trustworthy boat. Everything worked out without a hitch. Shortly thereafter, the sun began to set.
Twilight Navigation Between Lombok and the Gili Islands
It was with darkness setting in that we set sail to cross the Strait of the Sea of Bali that separates the secondary archipelago of the Gili, from Lombok.
If Senggigi – the most touristic city on the mother island – entices and concentrates wealthy visitors, attracted by the luxurious resorts and bars with live music that play European football around the clock, Kuta, the surfing Mecca of the south and above of all, the Gili are desired by the poor.
With obvious emphasis on the young Australians who live just below the map.
Trawangan, Air and Meno: Gili's Welcoming Trio
Trawangan, Air and Meno are surrounded by coral reefs and white sand beaches with crystal clear waters. There are turtles, blankets and a panoply of fish as folkloric as some of the decorations in the local bars.
None of these islands have cars or motorbikes. The most similar are the cidomes, carts pulled by slobs. At the time of our visit, there was no authority on the archipelago either.
Any questions that might arise were resolved between the locals or these and the visitors. The system has worked in most cases that, by the way, were scarce.
The largest of the three islands, Trawangan, is 3km north to south, two miles east to west. It concentrates the large portion of the accommodation and ensures a party until late. Despite this, there is not a single club worthy of the name.
In comparison, the even smaller Air and Meno prove to be quiet. Very early in the morning, they receive visits from sleepy revelers from Trawangan, who regret having signed up for the early-morning diving and snorkeling trips.
It was something we strategically guarded against, at least as far as the first morning was concerned.
In high season, the Gili are reinforced with hundreds of young people from Lombok and neighboring islands of the Nusa Tenggara archipelago who flock there to work in bars and restaurants.
Portugal's Secular Connection to Indonesia and Timor Lorosae
At one of the two dinners we had in Trawangan, as soon as he found out where we were from, the waiter did not rest until he remembered all the Portuguese words that enriched Bahasa Indonesia, the national Malay dialect.
After the enunciation of the “window”, the “flag”, the “butter” and the “shoe”, she continued to explain her special interest in the former colonist homeland: “her mother was Timorese, her name was Adolfina.
Married an Indonesian Muslim. As such, they were forced to change their nickname. Both he and his mother were sorry to lose their old nickname, Lobo.
The conversation was extended to one more (they are so frequent in Indonesia) surrender to the national team (ours) and to its new star.
In fact, we must stress that Portuguese football, and especially Cristiano Ronaldo, achieved a diplomatic miracle between Portugal and Indonesia, at least the popular one.
More than two decades after the massacre at the Santa Cruz Cemetery, the subject of East Timor still raised some malicious irony in some Indonesians.
That resentment was, however, alleviated by Cristiano Ronaldo's visit to Banda Aceh, devastated by the 2005 tsunami, where he greeted the young Martunis (in case you don't remember, the kid who was found wearing the Quinas t-shirt and brought to Portugal to see a game selection).
Cristiano Ronaldo, the Portuguese team and Real Madrid are now much more discussed topics between Portuguese visitors and hosts.
At Gili, in particular, the king sport remains, however, surfing.
A barrier reef near a section of the coast of Trawangan generates waves that are usually medium but perfect for practicing the sport. Dozens of local Indonesian youth or those displaced from other parts of the nation are taking advantage of the blessing.
Day after day, we see them determined to perfect their maneuvers, competing with each other and with outsiders for a coveted aquatic protagonism.
Meanwhile, off the coast, more and more boats are approaching the Gili, full of teenagers eager to enter that small island playground.