Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by mumunmumun on 27 April 2015 • Destination
Coastal cities had always lived off of their marine richness. Most of the coastal cities rely on fish and seafood as their main protein source, which goes without saying include Indonesia having lots of coastal cities on its lengthiest coasts in the world. Fishermen are found on most of these cities and fresh Indonesian seafood is their bread and butter. I’m reminded of this during our complimentary stay and activities at Tugu Hotels, Lombok.
That particular moment was on a scorching sunny day at Sire Beach. I walked with fellow travelers Firsta and Gilang, just down to the beach and headed east. I didn’t see any activities in the distance, but apparently, we were lead to keep on walking by Elly, the Tugu Hotel staff on duty that day.
“On a Sunday, the chef usually walks here and tries his luck on fresh octopus. We can buy directly from the women (wives of fishermen), for our kitchen,” Elly tells us underneath the umbrella shade. Yes, it was that hot. It even burned my ego to use an umbrella although I was looking for a light tan. We nodded, not sure of whom we’ll meet as it seems like the beach was deserted.
Squinting my eyes, I finally saw some movement in the distance. Apparently, the beach wasn’t empty at all. Women and children were gathering underneath a low shaded tree, enjoying the coverage while they wait. The women had dark tanned skin, hair colored by the sun, and mostly were wearing sarongs. Each had a bucket with them, ready to collect catch of the day, caught by the men still out at sea. The children seem to be running around playing with each other, while the women sat in a circle speaking to each other in local dialect.
We said our hellos and purpose of our visit. Apparently one of the women had already had a few octopuses in her bucket. They were pale blue, yet their camouflage mechanism kept on going. There was these brownish red swirls constantly happening throughout its body and it was so fascinating to see, I didn’t mind getting lost in its patterns despite my finger was in one of its slimy nostrils.
“So, what do you talk about when sitting around here? Who’s cheating on who?” I cheekily asked. Everyone kinda looked at each other, waiting to see who would confess first.
“Yes.” One woman admitted without inhibition. The group let out a laugh, the kind that implied that it was funny ‘cause it’s true. It was a nice icebreaker amongst the women, but I could have used more time to make it better. They had to travel home soon to attend the market or prepare the family meal. We talked a little more before finally seeing movement in the distance sea, not too long afterwards.
The women can spot who’s who coming in. What looked like a spec to us, was a clear sight for them. Those that related to the men coming in would quickly jump up and walk to the water edge to meet with the fishermen.
Photos also by @Gilangtamma.
“So you made these hooks yourselves?” I asked the fishermen that were unloading their goods, while looking at the point of their simple spears.
“Yes. The proper one is too expensive, about two million rupiahs for each. We can’t afford it,” they say.
“So, how much to make one like this?”
“Two hundred thousand,” there was a nice proud tone in their voice.
“Does it do the job as well?”
“Yes. Might as well make them than buy the expensive one,” one of them said. He was a young fisherman, darkened by the sun, unloading heaps of octopus and cuttlefish to his mother. With just flip flops, he and his mate, stepped out of the boat and prepared his way home.
They say, give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, but teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. No one said how much the equipment had to cost. Apparently, it didn’t matter much to the Sire Beach fishermen, Lombok Island.
After a few fingers pointing into the octopus, an attempt to touch a cow, and a few giggles with the children, we headed back only to know that Elly had made some kind of a deal with the women collecting the day’s good.
That night, to our surprise, we found ourselves having a nice Indonesian seafood barbeque by the beach set up for us. The seafood was prepared and grilled on the beach, with greens, corn and a few condiments. We didn’t see any octopus, but we were happy with everything they served, since it was fresh and nicely seasoned. Don’t you just love fresh seafood? And according to Elly, the seafood is always obtained from the locals, whether it’s through the market or personal. Great food sustainability! The set was a service provided by the Tugu Hotel following seeing catch of the day. Such a nice activity, one I’m always up for!
By the end of the three-course meal, we were bloated with good food, stories and laughs. It was a good way to end the day and I could sleep knowing we had a great fresh seafood meal from local people. I hope that the fishermen and their families were enjoying the same batch of seafood, ‘cause God knows it was a splash of heaven from the sea worthy for everyone.