I find myself on the Indonesian island of Flores. There is an airport here, but its only flights are to and from Bali and everything is at an ashy standstill due to the eruption of Mt Rinjani’s baby mountain in Lombok.
Here at the Blue Parrot in Labuan Bajo we are busy killing time and waiting. Well, the ones who are left are.
Brice (the Frenchman who runs the lounge bar and restaurant down the road) left yesterday on the 36-hour ferry to Denpasar. Angela (the lady who owns the B&B where we’re staying) has left the country for a couple of months to admire the autumn leaves in Canada. Thomas (the man-about-the-house to whom we are to pay our rent) has not been seen since we arrived. And Enid, the breakfast cook and bed-maker, spends her spare time in affectionate encounters with her boyfriend in the breakfast room. (She is also Suspect #1 in yesterday’s beer crisis.)
All the rest of us are struggling on, being greeted with endless “Selamat pagis” and wicked sunny smiles. We are also being constantly bombarded with offers of land or sea transport—any destination, any duration—to take our minds off the closed airport.
The health spa is also doing a roaring trade. I, foolishly, tried a foot reflexology session which revealed several sore points and activated the kidney foot button with predictable results. If things don’t smarten up, candle waxing is next on my list.
We have even been to visit the local field office of Swiss Connect (SECO) run through a partnership with the Swiss Foreign Affairs Department. A nice young Swiss-German woman there is in charge of trying to reduce the amount of plastic used on the island. In essence, this garbage-strewn town of stinking fires, rotting fish-guts, dead rats, shiny-black liquid grunge, and squished frogs is as organic as the Garden of Eden. The attempt to wipe out all vestiges of ugly modern times is a highly romantic and very clean Swiss mission.
Stop the presses! A rumour has it that a plane is landing. We’re almost saved, and our worries are over. We can finally relax and let life get back to normal.