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We got a phone call from Jakarta
Ternate (Indonesia), April 20th 2009

Sometimes we have a day that we are out of luck, and sometimes we have several of these days in a row. The time we spent in Ambon was great, but the days here in Ternate are long and tiring. We can’t say that Ternate has no charm, but for us it is difficult to find it. The weather is one of the most annoying factors. The rainy season is starting, and most days it rains for many hours. An umbrella has no use in this kind of weather, because it rains cats and dogs. The city seems to be swallowed by the clouds during these heavy rains. During the hours that it is not raining, it is uncomfortably hot. There is no moment of the day that our shirts are dry; they are wet because of the rain, or because of the sweat. So, we can’t wait to leave Ternate again. For many people it is probably one of the highlights of their journey to Indonesia, but not for us.

Today we go again to the Pelni office. Pelni is the state-owned shipping line that operates ships between many of the Indonesian islands. All previous times that we visited the office, we were not able to buy tickets for the boat to Papua. One time the schedules for the boats to Papua were not known yet, and the other time the person who has the mandate to sell the tickets was not present. But today, we intend not to leave the office before we have the tickets in our pockets. But it isn’t our lucky day today either. There are no boats from Ternate to Papua in the coming weeks. “We got a phone call from Jakarta” is what the Pelni officer tells us. Both boats, the Dorolonda and the Sinabung, are going to be docked for a while, for maintenance reasons he assumes. We understand that the Pelni officer is also taken by surprise by his colleagues in Jakarta. It is almost unbelievable that the only two boats that operate on this route are taken out of service in the same period. That means that the transport connection between Ternate and Papua is disconnected for the time being. When the first boat will go again is not known yet.

Somewhat bewildered we go back to the hotel to discuss what to do now. We still can not believe that the two boats are really taken out of service at the same time, but this is Indonesia, so it is definitely possible. What we know for sure is that we are not going to wait in Ternate till the boat services resumes again. It can take weeks, or even months. We are not going to waste away in a musty hotel room in rainy Ternate. After weighing the alternatives, we decide to change our plans. We are going to postpone our visit to Papua till June and will go first to the Nusa Tenggara Islands group, in southern Indonesia. So, we swap the two visits.

Happy with our new plan, we go to the nearest travel agent to book flights to the city of Denpasar on Bali, our intended starting point for our visit to Nusa Tenggara. Ternate is not really a transport hub, so it costs us some money to get away here. We will fly from Ternate via Manado and Makassar on Sulawesi to eventually Denpasar. We pay a pile of Rupiah’s and after a waiting time of two hours, we are the proud owners of two airplane tickets. We have to wait for a while because the flight leaves in three days, but finally the end of our stay in Ternate is approaching.

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