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Mount Rinjani, Lombok - The day before

INDONESIA | Thursday, 25 June 2009 | Views [965]

I am sitting in a guesthouse in Senaru, on the island of Lombok, Indonesia. The room is spartan. The only furniture is the double bed which I'm sharing tonight with Madeleine. The floor is tiled. The roof is high. There are ventilation holes above the door and window which admit the sounds of activity outside, including (but not limited to):

  • The largely incomprehensible babble of Bahasa Indonesia from the staff and inhabitants of this fine institution.
  • The gushing of water from a hose being sprayed onto the ground to keep the dust down.
  • The occasional deafening roar of a motorcycle heading up the hill in low gear.
  • The tinkle of music from the icecream man -- his joyful bounty housed in a box on the back of his motorcycle, heading up the hill in low gear.
  • A cacophany of animal noises including (from more to less prosaic): A dog barking, a rooster announcing the impending dusk (much the same way as he announces every other time of day), and a goat whose incessant bleating sounds like the complaints of an angry elderly woman from the north of England.

All this is captured and amplified by this room: It's high ceiling, it's lack of muffling furnishings.

My bladder calls. I duck around the corner to our bathroom and flip on the tap to fill the bucket of water that I will use to flush. In the morning I will probably be thankful for this disguising noise -- water hitting water -- as my insides inevitably turn to liquid themselves. The toilet seat is wet -- a reminder of an earlier visit where the flushing action was unpracticed and sloppy, and water was poured all over the seat in the process of chasing some piss and toilet paper down the narrow hole. If we were to seriously abandon ourselves to local habits we would not even be using toilet paper: A bucket of water and a daring left hand would suffice. But us western chicks love our bog roll, and the bucket is solely for flushing.

Four mini pails of water later and my little wad of paper is stubbornly floating in the bowl, and I give up. I wash my hands with water from the tap I used to fill the bucket, and return to bed, where Madeleine has awoken. The angry northern English woman goat has been joined by what sounds like a younger goat. Or should I say, what sounds like a young child from the north of England who has unfortunately become a zombie and is now on an ineloquent quest for brains.

I am bored. As if this is not plainly obvious. We are in Senaru to climb Mount (Ganung) Rinjani... a volcano sitting just behind this village. We arrived before lunch today from Gili Trawangan. The idea was to spend the day exploring the cooler mountain village and perhaps go to look at a waterfall or learn a little about the local Sasak people. The idea was also to have a night's free accommodation at the expense of the organisation through which we booked this trek.

The spanner in the works here is that I acquired a nice cold on our second-to-last day in Ubud, and it has been hanging around for the past six days. I'm still sniffing, now coughing, and altogether feeble. The idea of walking to a waterfall has no appeal and the village is insubstantial and downhill (meaning an uphill walk to get back).

So now we're officially here napping, reading and preparing ourselves for our mountain ascent tomorrow.

The light from the window lessens as dusk comes on and I turn on the light: A single, energy-saving bulb high in the ceiling which turns everything in the room a delicate shade of depressing.

This was all I really wanted to do in Lombok -- climb this mountain. We've spent four nights in Gili Trawangan doing appropriate beach and ocean activities, eating pizza, drinking cheap liquor and being chatted up by inadvisable gentlemen, but I really just wanted this mountain.

And as the cold moves to my chest and my head continues to pound and my insides turn to mush and my body starts to ache with greater insistence, this is looking increasingly unwise.

But we'll do it anyway.

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