I have created this blog with the hopes that you, my friend, will follow me as I sail around the world (figuratively or literally, not sure yet) with my parents on their Contest 48. Whereas I hope to keep you updated with exciting adventures of exotic ports and epic waves, keep in mind that cruising - that is, traveling by boat in a leisurely fashion - tends to be filled with days of intense boredom, punctuated by moments of sheer terror. Please keep this in mind as you read these entries, for this platform will be just as much an attempt for me to maintain my sanity (and connection to the California-based world), as entertainment and reassurance for you. And so, follow me as I sail the world.

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Saturday, August 3, 2013

Grub Indonesia

I ate a grub. Yes, they served grubs at the "Sail Indonesia Rally Gala Dinner", which was probably the biggest event of the year in Saumlaki. To be fair, grubs were not a main course of the dinner, but I am proud of the fact that I ate ONE.

Acutally, the gala dinner was very cool. Before the dinner and ceremony there was the traditional food competition. At 6 PM all of us yachties were brought up to the government hall of Saumlaki for our going away dinner, our last hurrah in Saumlaki before we leave the island of Yandena for Banda and beyond. It was a big deal and our coordinators, Grace and Desi, told us to dress fancy and be on time (two rare traits for yachties).

As I walked into the government hall I observed maybe 20 tables lining the perimeter of the room. On each table was a meal from a different region of Indonesia, all elegantly prepared and obviously toiled over for many hours. As we walked by the tables I asked questions and took pictures of the food, and usually a picture with the people who made the food as well. All of the women were proud of their work tried to explain to me in great detail how each dish was prepared, but I understood maybe 5% of what was said. If they said "cassava" I said, "Oh I love cassava!" If they said "ikan" (fish) I said "Ikan bagus!" (fish good!) while they laughed at me.

At one point Jake from Hoku'lea came up to me and said, "Did you see the grubs?!" He promptly took me over to a table where, sure enough, roasted grubs were being photographed by fascinated yachties. For the next 30 minutes before we were allowed to eat, the general topic of conversation was, "Are you going to eat a grub??" After the judges had tried all the food we were allowed to dig in. I ate some delicious coconut curry, some amazing cassava pizza, bland taro leaves, weird potato slime and lots and lots of rice. Ultimately I got to the grub table. Without really thinking, I grabbed a grub and popped it in my mouth. I only wanted half a grub -- I intended to share it with Kyle -- but it was so tough and chewy that I couldn't bite it in half. And so I ate the whole thing.

The grub was surprisingly empty inside. It must have been well cooked. While the texture was rather unpleasant and no matter how much I chewed would not dissolve in my mouth, the taste was that of chicken bones or roasted nuts.. some sort of protein source. I can safely say that I would rather eat roasted grubs than starve. However, I was not starving needed some serious food to get the taste and grubby bits out of my mouth, so I carried on around the tables trying more things, some good and some average. Just as the judging ended, Desi, who has become my very good friend, came up and grabbed my hand. "Corie!" she whispered excitedly, "the judges say this soup is very good. You must come try it." I was feeling very adventurous (borderline invincible) and did not want to disappoint my friend -- or anybody for that matter.

I asked the women at the table what the soup was and they rattled off some name that I could not understand at all. It looked benign enough so I took a spoonful from a bowl. I think I ate some sort of seed pod because it felt like bark in my mouth and was very spicy and a little too flavorful. Desi was looking at me with smiling eyes and I smiled back. "Mmmmmmmm, it is very nice," I told the ladies who had prepared it. "Bagus." They laughed with pleasure as I drank the rest of the broth, trying to get the burning sensation out of my mouth. I didn't quite finish all the soup and I am glad I didn't because when I looked in the bottom of the bowl I saw a massive grub. Not like the roasted, crispy one of before, but a fat, juicy, black and white one that you might feed a big lizard. My stomach churned. The ladies and Desi were still watching me. I am not sure if they noticed me start to sweat but I smiled sweetly, handed the bowl back and did not meet their eyes to see if they disapproved of the untouched grub in the bottom of the bowl.

As I walked away I had to work to keep my food down, but some how managed to do so as we sat through an hour of speeches and dancing and of officials smoking cigarettes (inside). Just like at any other multi-cultural event in a foreign country, the night concluded with lining all the white people up and making them dance to goofy songs. I put my foot down at this, said my goodbyes and got out of there.

Tomorrow we leave Saumlaki and head for Banda Island, or at least in that direction. Saumlaki has been an awesome experience. I've never felt like such a rockstar in my life. The tourist office here has done an amazing job working with Sail Indonesia to make sure we had a warm welcome and plenty of activities to do. In fact, it is my opinion that they kind of over-did the activities, as we have hardly had any time to do our own thing. I have not even gotten in the water yet! When I tried to organize a boat to take us out to the good snorkeling islands, Grace and Desi denied me, telling me I would miss the canoe races or the dance competition or something or other. Whereas I had expected to be swimming or diving all day every day in Indo, I did not expect a very well organized week of activities visiting villages, monuments, feasts and other culturally fulfilling experiences. People here are incredibly nice and work very hard to keep tourists happy, although in ways that are never quite expected. Fortunately, one of our favorite mottos here on Rutea is "expect it to be different" because it always is.
At 7/30/2013 10:16 PM (utc) Rutea's position was 07°58.52'S 131°17.30'E

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1 comment:

  1. The grubs were interesting, but I'm still stuck on the part where you were told to "dress fancy." Were you hiding a little black dress in your cabin?