| To Find Out
Author: Steve Cavin
Publisher: CreateSpace (2012)
Chapter 42 - Sumba
Karl and his wife Hilda owned the "Zarathustra". I met them in the immigration office, where I was getting a visa for Indonesia. They needed an able crewman, and I needed a ride. We quickly agreed, that I would sail with them through Indonesia's eastern islands for a few months, eventually stepping off in Singapore. A week later, the three of us sailed north for the island of Sumba.
When we reached the north coast of Sumba, we were in need of provisions. We anchored in a little bay, and prepared to go ashore. The villagers came out in dugout canoes and waved and marveled at the fiberglass hull of our sailboat. They kept running their hands along the smooth sides, tentatively at first, and then very excitedly began talking amongst themselves. It was decided that our captain must go ashore immediately and meet the village chief. The captain accepted their invitation and we motored our little zodiac up on the beach and followed our newfound friends into town.
After much ceremony it became clear that we were expected to buy something as a gesture of friendship. I bought a bunch of bananas and proceeded to pay a lot more than they were worth. The captain later explained to me that I was an idiot, as now they would expect us to overpay for all of our provisions. Undaunted, I set off for the village with my backpack, prepared for several hours of shopping and bargaining.
My job was to buy fresh food for the boat. Food doesn't keep well on tropical voyages, even in a propane refrigerator. So I made fresh bread, consumed precious canned goods sparingly, and bought fresh fruit, vegetables and meat as we went along. In the market, I found a woman with two woven bamboo baskets full of chickens, and after squeezing a few and reaching a price, tucked one under my arm for dinner.
Now, carrying a live chicken in no way resembles carrying home the cellophane- wrapped, plucked, pre-cut packages you pick up at an American supermarket. The bird is alive, and warm, and it looks you in the eye. The market lady recognized my difficulty immediately, and patiently showed me how to take firm hold of the chicken's feet and tuck its head under my arm so all it saw was the comfortable darkness of my armpit. Thus positioned, the chicken calmed down immediately, making little clucking noises as I strode along.
Traveler's Note #51: Don't Name Your Chicken