A clear sky, but not too sunny, greeted us in Kendari City, southeast Sulawesi on the first morning after our day-long trip from Manila. Occasional drizzles, short ones, will come in the afternoons and evenings of our entire stay in this quiet city near the eastern portion of Indonesia. But not on this morning, technically our first day in Kendari. During the flight from Singapore to Jakarta, between all those gut-wrenching shakes and bounces of the plane, I kept thinking that this could well be my last visit to this place. Our project is ending in January next year. And if we don’t get something going on before the year ends – perhaps a short-term research or a second phase for our present project – it may take some time before I can come back to Kendari.
And so, coming out of this cheap hotel on the first day of our visit, I was in a “maximizing experience” mode which was to last until day five. It was a good thing somebody from the Center was able to come with me this time. No trouble doing things that were a bit out of the ordinary. Finally had this chance to walk from the hotel to our partner's office (close to two kilometers). Woke up one windy morning and jogged around this sprawling structure at the heart of the city. Bought ourselves some pairs of cargo pants (quite a fashion trend nowadays among young Indonesians). Had our fills of saraba (a ginger drink with coconut milk, honey or brown sugar) and sago palm starch. We went snorkeling at the reef's edge in Bajo Island. Got ourselves drunk the night before our flight back to the Pinas. Had trouble getting out of bed and taking a shower.
Had this terrible headache on our way back to Jakarta. Legs were wobbly, and there was this thick haze wrapping the brain, preventing it from thinking clearly. Got some relief only after drinking soya milk and eating a bowl of this really hot, reddish soup. During those long flights and lay-overs, kept wracking our brains out on how to finish that research proposal. Which would be our ticket back to Indonesia, back to Kendari City.