Farewell to Lombok
During the two months we were away, the folks at the Lombok Marina had been extremely busy. Retaining walls had been built, docks put in with water access to each slip, and mosaic walkways had been installed. What had caused such sudden progress, when just months prior it seemed the marina may never actually become a marina? Turns out, a large rally of Oyster sailboats had been promised a working marina in which to congregate before heading to Cocos Keling. This deadline meant the marina construction crew worked day and night, even running a generator to power lights when the sun set. Like a college student, the attitude of lackadaisical procrastination had suddenly become frantic cramming, and we were amazed at what had been accomplished while we were gone. Just in time, the marina was barely workable, even if not quite the organized, established, well-run machine that many of the rally boats expected. Each day a few more boats would come in and tie up to the docks, until nearly every slip was full.
One afternoon while we were working on the boat, we overheard radio chatter between the marina and a boat, True Blue. Could it be the same True Blue we’d spent time with in New Zealand and Vanuatu nearly two years ago? Yes! What a surprise! It would be the first of four boats within the following weeks that we would reunite with from our past cruising years. We spent the next few evenings with them, reminiscing and connecting in a way I’ve found to be especially unique to cruising friends - sharing experiences in faraway places and living a lifestyle that is often viewed from the outside as luxurious, but in reality is more ‘hard and crusty’ (a term coined over drinks one night) than anyone could imagine.
The following day Mark spent on shore underneath a palm tree. He’d tied a pulley high up around the trunk in order to hoist a heavy can of propane above his head. We needed to refill our propane tanks, and the only way to do it here was by using gravity. Thankfully, he had somehow found the elusive nozzle fitting that worked on Indonesian tanks while in Sorong months ago, so he offered to share with the rally boats, too. Soon, there was a long line of tanks waiting to be filled and a few fellow sailors offering to help get the job done.
Finally, it was time for us to set sail again. Ultimately, we wanted to get back to one of our favorite dive spots just west of Komodo, but first, we had a stop to make. While in the US, Mark received a notification on his phone about a tsunami alert resulting from a major earthquake on the island of Lombok. Initially, we feared for Field Trip, tied to a mooring ball off an island on the southwestern tip of Lombok. But after sending a quick email to the marina, we received a response that everything in that area was fine. It was the north side of Lombok that had undergone catastrophic damage.
Michael broke the silence, “Mom, its so solemn here.” Yes. That was exactly the word. Solemn.
On our drive into town, street-side village after street-side village showed the same damage - piles of dusty rubble where houses and businesses had once stood. But something struck me as we continued passing these communities. Yes, there was devastation, but still an underlying strength pressed through. Determination and unity emerged as I observed signs of them beginning to rebuild. An old woman sorted through the mess to find any bricks that were still intact. A young boy moved a wheelbarrow full of rubble. In one village, the teenagers had tied a line from one tree to another and were laughing and playing a game of volleyball with the smaller children - offering joy and distraction and hope.