I didn’t know what was like to have some time to recharge batteries since 2010, time when I did my first dive liveaboard (the shipwreck route in Red Sea – Egypt). Life of freelancer it’s not all shinny days, beach time and not working. Being a nomad-freelancer, it’s not easy, specially being an workaholic.
August came with an R&R week, and I was decided to get the best from my time off away from Nihi Sumba Island. I packed the “basics” and flew to Rote Island: all my camera gear (cameras, lens, harddrives and computer), plus everything that can fit in a 40L bag: all chargers, filters, tripod and enough clothes to protect the “essencial”. I can’t leave without my camera, and I do miss just walking around with it and shoot just because I feel to.
Rote is the southern island of Indonesia and, although much drier, has the same feeling as Sumba. It’s known by the good surf and not crowed waves. “According to legend, this island got its name accidentally when a lost Portuguese sailor arrived and asked a farmer where he was. The surprised farmer, who could not speak Portuguese, introduced himself, “Rote”.”
And why Rote if I don’t surf?! Well, it happens that Billy, a friend and a ex-Nihi colleague, was working in one of the oldest resorts in Rote. Looking at his photos and listing the stories of the island, seemed a pretty nice place to start my Indonesian journey.
I never flew that East in Indonesia and flying over Sumba was actually like check with my own eyes a facts that for many years I heard people talking about: The Wallace Line, a faunal boundary line drawn the 19th century by British Alfred Russel Wallace, that separates the ecozones of Asia and Wallacea, a transitional zone between Asia and Australia. West of the line are found organisms related to Asiatic species; to the east, a mixture of species of Asian and Australian origin is present. It’s amazing to observe the difference of landscape west and east of Sumba!
After a brief stop in Kupang, I arrived in Rote and some of the staff of Nemberala Beach Resort was already waiting at the airport. The ride to the resort was more or less the same time as from Tambolaka to Nihi, and was fun ride admiring the landscape and laughing with my attempts of talking Bahassa with Pak Bola.
Nemberala Beach Resort is a comfort “family-style” resort, right on the beach. And when I first arrived I could feel like home: not only because of the warmth welcoming and lots of friendly smiles, but also because I could actually “fell the ocean breeze”. The locals from this area lives from the agriculture, fishing but mostly from the seaweed farming, selling the seaweed to the Chinese market.
And here I was, in another remote place, by the beach, surrounded by incredible people and on holiday. For the first time since I arrive in Indonesia, I decided not to do any computer work. After all it was my vacation time.
During the 5 nights I stayed, I slept like a baby (something that doesn’t happen that often) in my super comfortable bedroom with outdoor bathroom and view to the pool and ocean. I ate tasty homemade food, meet great people (mostly surfers hehehe), got some suntan, did lots of beach walk, watched breathtaking fire-sunsets and the pigs having fun on the beach. I saw the tides going as low as we could walk through the seaweed plantations to the surf break, and as high to make us come back to the resort by kayaking. I did bicycle tours and night walks on the beach to do photo experiments in order to capture the milky way were also part of my amazing time in Nemberala. And imagine what: there was even time to do some scuba diving!
Next door of Nemberala, I found Surf Dive Rote, the only dive center of the island. I wanted to see that as I sign and I ended up booking a double dive, the perfect opportunity to hello to my underwater friends. To be honest, I was not expecting to have such good diving, but was actually nice. During the surface interval of our first dive, Sarah, from the Indonesian Manta Project, was able to tag an oceanic Manta. Hoping to dive with Mantas we we ended up diving the same. Unfortunately, the manta was gone.
Being able to have some rest and peace of mind to walk with the camera and capture the beauty of the place and do some photo experiments was priceless and I can only thank to Billy and Nemberala family.