I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to tell this story, it’s not particularly insightful, and it doesn’t have any practical travel tips. It’s just a mildly funny story about a situation that happen while I was in Indonesia.
So here goes…
For our last day on the island of Flores I wanted to go see the Komodo Dragons. Komodo National Park spans the three adjacent islands to Flores, Komodo, Rinca, and Padar. When I’d mentioned wanting to go to Komodo to our homestay host, he immediately told me that he could arrange all of it for us. A friend of his had a boat tour company that could take us to Rinca to see the Komodo Dragons, then snorkeling afterwards.
There are plenty of tour companies on Flores that can take you to Komodo National Park and to see all the sights, but I trusted our host and I felt like we were getting a local deal.
The next morning we headed down to the harbor for our Komodo adventure. Our host lead us through the docks of nice charter boats and dive boats, and beautiful live-aboard boats, and then we made a turn onto a rock and concrete jetty where a small fishing boat was waiting for us. Since the boat wasn’t actually at a dock we had to scramble down the rocky embankment to get to it. While it wasn’t really what I was expecting, I’m a go with the flow kinda girl, and figured this would be a more “authentic” experience than the beautiful chartered speed boats.
In retrospect I’m pretty sure this was not an official tour company of any kind. Our host probably just had a friend with a boat.
When the boat started up it sounded like a lawn mower. The kind that you ride on because your lawn is so huge that if you had a push mower the grass on one end would have regrown by the time you got to the other side.
As we were leaving the harbor I also noticed that our lawn mower boat was being piloted by two teenage boys.
So you know, the lawn mower boat and the teenagers driving it sparked a lot of confidence.
But they seemed to know what they were doing, so I attempted to relax on the wooden bench with no back to it.
Our trip out to Rinca went pretty smoothly, and getting to tromp around the island and see a couple of Komodo Dragons was awesome. Serious National Geographic moment!
From there the boat was supposed to take us to a good spot for snorkeling, so we loaded back on and the boys pushed away from the dock. However after leaving land the motor wouldn’t start. Damn you lawn mower! And we began to drift into the bay. The boys were yelling at each other in Indonesian and banging around on the motor below the deck as we slowly began to drift out to sea. Luckily they dropped the anchor before we were completely out of the bay, and since neither of them spoke any English they didn’t bother explaining what was going on. So we just hung out for a while. Being near the entrance to the bay I was hopeful that another boat would stop by and we could either hop a ride on their boat or they could help us out.
It didn’t take too long for another boat to pull up next to us, and a tiny old Indonesian man jumped on board and went under to the “engine room”. We heard a lot of banging around and some yelling, but the motor eventually sputtered back to life.
Then, in one of the greatest moment of my life, a floorboard in the hull suddenly popped open and the little Indonesian man stuck his head out, grinning from ear to ear and climbed out of the hole in the floor. Then set the floorboard back and climbed back onto his own boat.
I wish I’d thought to take a picture of this moment, but I was so surprised by the man coming out of the floor that all I could do was smile and laugh. He looked so happy and proud. Also why didn’t he just go out the way he went in?
We did eventually go snorkeling, but nothing nearly as exciting as having a man pop out of the floor of the boat happened.