This morning we managed to sleep through the 0430 prayers, but we were awakened at 0600 by another loudspeaker. There was an announcer of some sort talking away, with a few songs played in between his monologues. There were also short snippets of music played now and again while he talked. It sounded like there was some sort of contest going on in a carnival type setting. We begrudgingly dragged ourselves out of bed and looked out the windows. There seemed to be something huge happening along the waterfront park area. There were tons of people out and a lot of activity in an area where there was not much happening when we had been there a couple days before.
We merrily went to shore, excited about our luck to have been in Ende for this big special occasion. We were shocked to see the crew was hard at work on repairing the dock. It is Sunday. On shore, the streets had been transformed. Every single shop was open. Yesterday many had been closed. The sidewalks were completely taken over by an endless row of vendors sitting on the ground with their wares spread out around them. They were even lining the alley ways. They were selling all kinds of non-perishable goods. The street was absolutely jam packed with people and scooters.
We made our way down the street to the waterfront park where we had seen all the activity from Kosmos. As we turned the corner, we were suddenly in the middle of an enormous farmer’s market. As far as the eye could see there were endless tables of produce and fish in the park. The sidewalks were also lined with more vendors sitting on the ground selling perishable goods.
The road had been blocked off to vehicles, and there were a line of scooters parked along the blockade. It was even more crowded in here. People would load stuff on their scooters.
We made our way to the other end of the park area to see the big event. We saw the truck that the amplification was coming from parked against the water’s edge, with a tent set up in front of it. We went over to the tent. It was a household wares booth. The guy was simply trying to talk people into coming to check out the stuff for sale at this booth in the far corner of the market. What a disappointment!
We walked around some more. Obviously, market day is a colossal event and not to be missed by anyone. It was getting very hot again and, as always, we got a lot of attention from everyone. Many people were calling out to us, asking us to buy from them or where were we from or what was our name or did we want a ride to someplace on their scooter or would we take their picture. It was overwhelming. We even had two pan handlers approach us, which was a little surprising.
We went back to Kosmos for the rest of the day, re-emerging on shore at dinner time. There was a big game at the field next to the pier, and it looked like half the town was at the game. We wandered the streets again. Most of the shops were closed, all the vendors on the sidewalks were gone, and there were just a few vendors left at the tables in the park. Several of them were packing up as we left. Now that it was calmer, it was easier to shop. We got some bananas and pineapples, then went to a restaurant for dinner. We got several dishes we knew we liked and tried one new one, asparagus soup. It has the texture of egg drop soup with asparagus and corn in it, and has an “earthy” taste to it. We didn’t like it.
After dinner we went on the internet hunt. Lonely Planet and the restaurant owner both said to go to the Telecom office, which was open late. After a bemo ride up there, the telecom guy directed us to an internet cafÃ© called Zimanet. We asked many, many people where Zimanet was and no one had heard of it. We hopped on another bemo to go back to Kosmos in defeat. On the bemo, the driver asked us where we were going. In Indonesian we said water, sea, and boat but he didn’t understand we meant the pier. We showed him on the map and he still seemed perplexed. We finally settled for market, figuring it was a short walk from the market to the pier.
There was a big group of teenage girls in the bemo. One asked us a question in English. All the girls giggled. We replied, and the girls giggled hysterically, seeming amazed that they got a reply. The questions continued, with them getting very animated every time they were able to elicit a response from us. You could tell they didn’t really think they had learned anything in all those boring days of English class and were stunned at being able to communicate. They followed us off the bemo, heading to the game. On the street, the questions continued, and as they got more comfortable with speaking to us, the questions became more complex. They clearly wanted to hold a conversation, but didn’t know enough words specific to what they wanted to talk about, so they settled for rote questions. We know that tomorrow morning they will probably go running up to their English teacher and proudly report they were able to talk to us. We kind of feel like rock stars here, with everyone so eager to see us and talk to us. It is kind of fun to be the center of attention.
We made a quick detour to the field to see what was going on. It was a volleyball game, and even more people were there than before. Thinking it was not smart to hang out in a crowd holding a laptop, we retired to Kosmos for the night. On the pier, the work crew was still at it, at 2030 (8:30 pm) on a Sunday night.