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Today we took the public ferry to Gili Meno. This gave us 5 1/2 hours to explore the third of the Tiga Gili. Gili Meno lies in between Gili Trawangan and Gili Air and does not have a source of fresh water so water is brought from Lombok. Electricity is brought by under sea cable from Lombok as well.
We felt the pull of island paradise as soon as we stepped off the ferry and found very little infrastructure, with about 12 villa style accommodation options and a few eateries. We had walked fast from our resort to the harbour which is about 3 km and arrived just 4 minutes before the ferry was due to leave. I used the last of our cash to buy the ferry tickets while my husband dashed to the ATM to withdraw some more but he was unable to and only just made it as the ferry was leaving. So we set off without enough cash to have lunch or even a cold drink, hoping that there would be an ATM on Gili Meno. There isn’t and it was nice to be somewhere less developed and that we brought some savory snacks for our children and water bottles for each of us.
We strolled north and when we saw 5 island children playing on a beach sheltered by a reef we encouraged our children to join them. The 7 children had a good time playing until the eldest girl (about 10) and her two younger sisters caught the two toddler boys and brought them onto the beach. The girls cleaned the sand off the boys, dried them and tried to get them to sleep. The youngest boy was laid down in the shade and vigorously patted but his cheeky 5 year old sister kept poking him when he was nearly asleep. Meanwhile the 6 year old girl was trying to rock the 3 year old boy to sleep in her arms. Eventually the girls gave up and took the boys for a walk.
As we strolled along the coral strewn beach we picked up dozens of cowry shells and took a dip in the water any time that we got too hot. As we rounded the NW corner of the island we looked across at Gili Trawangan. From there we headed inland and walked across the edge of the inland lake that has been established as an ecological reserve for bird watching. We saw a night heron but that was all. In fact we’ve seen only about 3 sea birds and that one water bird since coming to Lombok and Tiga Gili. It’s unsettling because in Australia we can’t go near a beach without the raucous calls of sea birds reverberating through the air. The lake is edged by mangroves and seems to be quite clean.
As we passed the homes of islanders we spotted a group of children hiding behind some bushes and almost certainly doing something forbidden. We saw children cutting branches from trees and playing in groups not closely supervised and my daughter commented on the contrast because we don’t let our children do anything like swimming or using sharp tools without supervision.
We passed a mosque blaring Bollywood music from the loudspeakers while a neighbouring shopkeeper rigged up his speakers and blasted different Bollywood music in a duel. We started to fret as the network of paths bore no resemblance to the dodgy map we were given at the resort and the time for our ferry drew near but thanks to 3G and Google Maps we found our way to the beach again.
We were delighted to swim on the beautiful white sandy beach and our children found it fun being pushed back and forth on the shoreline by the surging waves and currents. By this time we were very hungry and fasting did not seem like a good option any longer. Fortunately I found a shop near the jetty that sold bags of peanuts in their shells for a few dollars. The shopkeeper let us sit in his beautiful beachside hut to devour our nuts and listen to another chapter from the Cressida Cowell trilogy. We watched carefully for our ferry, swept our nutshells into the bin and hurried to what we assumed was our ferry. We got tangled amongst the stream of people disembarking and by the time that we emerged onto the sand the ferry was leaving but thankfully they stopped when they saw me waving, backed up and let us on board otherwise we may have been forced to find a bed for the night on Gili Meno!