I could see my moped.... This was good news.... I shouted 'HELLOOOO', then the old man appeared with my stuff. I was happy to see him. I slipped him a few notes, then he spotted I still had another so he offered to kindly take that one too. He was still great value.
My ride back took me through the areas where it had been drizzling. My camera had been under the bike seat. I stopped and grabbed a few images here and there.
I needed fuel, my light had been on since yesterday evening. Riding in Flores is packed with kids waving and shouting 'Hello Mister!' It's constant.... and lovely. Even the adults are at it. Presently tourists still hold a fascination to them. These people seem so kind and happy.
The return journey to the main road was always going to be a bum busting adventure of at least two hours.
I kept pushing the fuel arrow, hoping I could make it to the main road then a station. This was going to be too risky. I pulled over and took a litre bottle for a guy at the side of the little road. Better to be safe than sorry..... By the time I'd made the main road just over 2 hours had past and the next major town was Ruteng, from here it was highway to Ende. But it was still another 250km. I had enough fuel to take me through Ruteng on to the next town on the south coast called Borong.... The weather was firing rain me.... I pulled over and grabbed a snack at a local Warung. 15 minutes later the rain had stopped enough for me to continue my journey East. I pulled over in Borong to fill the tank. A local lad no more than 19 started asking the normal friendly questions, 'What's your name?', 'Where are you from?' and so on. His next one caught me out.....
'Come to my house for coffee. Come to my village and meet my family.' He said.
I love a little adventure. He deserted his post on the petrol pump, squeezed between me and the handlebars pushing me on to the back and started the moped with such acceleration I was almost off the back. Two minutes later we were turning left down a little broken road in to a tiny little village community. Wooden houses, corrugated iron houses... Standard living for the less wealthy people of this wonderful island. It began to rain again. We ran in to the house where Dhonighampar introduced me to his extended family. We sat on the mat in the corner, whilst his sister made us both coffee.
Only Dhoni could speak English. He was a studying at college. Dhoni was a kid with smiles aplenty. And I got the feeling (from the reaction of his family) that this wasn't the first time he'd brought a stranger back for coffee. After a few minutes of chatting and laughter he said, 'Stay tonight. Sleep in my home.' Wow. Such kindness.
Dhoni wanted to chat and share, chat and share.... What a great lad. I explained that I had a pretty tight schedule for the next few days and that staying over wouldn't be possible, though I'd have loved to. It would have been fantastic to spend an entire afternoon, evening, night and morning with a local family like this, but time was against me on this occasion.
Dhoni asked if I'd stay for lunch. Of course I said yes. The food was fantastic. Vegetables, tempeh, tofu, broth and rice.... Such great kindness.
After almost an hour I knew I had to hit the road. Dhoni's cousin said it would take around 5.5 hours from here on a motorcycle. Once again I thought I could cover the 200km in about 4.5 hours. Once again I found myself saying goodbye and thank you to more Flores kindness. Dhoni jumped on my bike and rode us back up to the main road.
It was after 2pm and I had some serious k's to cover. The road was a joy. Winding, beautiful and smooth.... A volcano appeared in my eyeline. I wondered if that was the one I'd be climbing to see the crater lakes at Kilimutu Park.
Each time I referred to Maps.me it seemed I was getting closer but far slower than I'd originally anticipated. I didn't want to be riding in the dark. The headlamp on my moped was rubbish, and worse, was set to 'blind all oncoming traffic'. The dipped light was literally useless.... So as the light faded and road continued to wind up and down, hairpinning it's way up and down steep hills I started using the lights. Suddenly huge insects became a serious problem. These things were the size of Daddy Longlegs, but seemed to be encased in hard plastic. I put the visor down on my helmet. Useless, I could see nothing. These flying plastic beasts were crashing in to my chest, arms and face..... I was riding blind at times. My fuel light had been on for ages and I was once again concerned that I wouldn't make it to Ende..... As luck has it I spotted the lights of the city in the distance. Maybe another 20 minutes of riding. The road had become potholed and a tad dangerous so I took it easy. I reached a petrol station and filled up. Then spent half an hour trying to find somewhere to stay. Flores West was super cheap for accommodation, but up this way things were 50% more. I found a standard room. It had air conditioning which was a bonus. It had a cold shower..... I bargained to get it for a tenner, but this meant no breakfast. I was leaving early so this wasn't an issue.
After a rubbish night sleep I hit the road around 9am. My intention was to leave early to make the Kilimutu Crater Lakes for sunrise, but after having no sleep and feeling the onset of a pretty rough throat I set off later than planned. It only took me a little over an hour to reach the road that lead up to the Crater Lakes. Woodsy, Ben and Bri were flying from Labuan Bajo up here, so there was every chance they'd have already been here. I checked the sign in book at the gate..... Damn, I'd just missed them. They had been up there for sunrise that morning. I decided to head down in to the little town and sort myself some accommodation.
I found the Bintang Bungalow and bedded down for some morning rest following a delicious bowl of fresh fruit served to me by the owner on arrival. Today would be a rest day. Tomorrow I'd rise at 4am to get up to the Crater Lakes of Kelimutu for sunrise.