On the small island of Hoga off Kaledupa, we share a beach shack with an adventurous Moluccan couple that we met on the last leg of our journey. Karina is from Kalimantan, Putra from Aceh. They met and fell in love in Aceh, where Karina worked for the Peace Brigade. Dating was tough, they say with a laugh, in a place governed by Sharia law where even holding hands in public will land you in jail, or worse.
They now live on the island of Buru in the Mollucas where Karina works on a maternal health awareness campaign for Mercy Corps and Putra, a painter, earns money airbrushing motor bikes. For us, they are excellent housemates and their friendship is an unexpected bonus on our journey.
We snorkel together (them in life jackets strapped on over t-shirts), and cook and eat together. They sleep inside on the big bed and we sleep on a smaller mattress outside on the deck. Even after they (reluctantly) return to the Moluccas, we continue to sleep outside.
The deck wraps around the side of the shack and there we have set up our kitchen. Lined up on the floor are a kerosene stove, a basket of bowls, glasses, and utensils, and two plastic jugs of “cooking” water. Between two posts we have tied a line from which we hang our food: bananas and oranges brought from Bau-Bau, black rice, instant noodle packets, and a pink plastic bag of flour. To a rafter we tied up two pineapples and a clump of long green beans also bought in Bau-Bau.
Just beyond the steps leading to the deck—between the shack and the sea—are two coconut palms supplying us kalapa muda (tender coconuts), which we gulp when the days get hot. In the morning, we mix sweetened condensed milk into our coffee and sip it on the beach as prahus laden with firewood pass by in the shallows.
In the evenings, we slow roast baby tuna over coals of dried-coconut shells using bamboo slats as grill grates. We wash our dishes and utensils in the sea, using sand as our scrub brush. It’s a sweet life. The sound of the tiny waves seep into our subconscious. We slow to the rhythms of island life.