Chris: A ferry from hell, then back to Oz
After a week of long days on slow winding roads in the relentless traffic across Indonesia we were both pretty tired and ready for a couple of days break in Ende before we caught the ferry for our last international stretch across to Timor then up to Dili – it was not to be. On the advice of a truck driver in Sape we stopped at Aimere, a port town on Flores, find out when (or if) a ferry left for Kupang in Timor. Our good luck with Indonesian ferries continued and it turned out that a ferry was leaving in 2 hours. So we bought the last car ticket (another would not leave for at least a week) and waited to board. That is when the hell began. There were masses of people waiting at the port and we optimistically thought that they must be there to wish their families and friends safe travels. We could not have been more wrong – everyone waiting at the port were getting on the ferry, with their bags of rice, chickens and even a wardrobe or two. Everyone somehow managed to squeeze on board and we set off. We stopped, however, at Ende and there were hundreds more people waiting to board. I am not claustrophobic but I don’t really like crowds, so to be on the ferry where there were so many people that we could not open the car doors was not my idea of fun. After 29 hours at sea filled by intermittent sleep broken with attempts to keep people off the car we arrived in Kupang. I have never been more releaved to be in open space.
The next day we drove across the border and up to Dili. Timor Leste strikes me as a place of enormous potential, although at the moment the overwhelming presence of the UN detracts from the atmosphere and local character. This was was, however, our last stop before Australia and the sheer relief that we had made it to Dili in time to load our car to Darwin meant that I was on a high. We washed and packed the car and after only 3 days we boarded our flight to Darwin. So now, we are in Darwin relaxing while we wait for the ship to arrive. It is a strange feeling being back in Australia- it is hard to explain, although maybe it is because it has been over 3 months since we were in an English speaking country. It is good to be back in Oz, and I can’t wait to get the car now to start the drive home and catch up with friends along the way.