Indonesia: Alor + Raja Ampat - July 2012
Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation made from a post originally written in French. My apologies for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have been generated during the process. If you are reading French, click on the French flag below to access the original and correct text:
During my stay in the Alor archipelago, in Indonesia, my place of stroll, between two dives, is the magnificent beach of Pantar Island.
Right, in front of the diving resort Alor DiversThere is this singular rock, all in volcanic rock jagged by erosion and very sharp, topped by a clump of vegetation.
It was once an island in its own right. The sand, pushed by the tides and the wind, is gradually gaining ground on the sea.
Behind, stretches the mangrove and the beach, towards the Muslim village.
On the left, in the direction of the Christian village, we meet tree trunks dried up like bones, bleached by the sun and the salt, with tormented forms.
Then the beach gradually turns into a postcard: white sand and coconut palms on azure sea.
The beach is not crowded, for sure. But throughout the day, there is a regular coming and going between the villages and the resort. Depending on the tides, you can also see families coming to fish for shellfish in the shallow water.
As everywhere in Asia, it is mostly women who are seen walking, carrying impressive loads.
Here as in the rest of Indonesia, it is not complicated to take pictures of people.
Most of the people you ask kindly accept to pose. Many even ask for a picture when they see your camera.
But what is amusing here in Alor - and I had not observed it elsewhere until then - is that everyone looks serious, almost hard, at the moment of release. Yet, the moment before, everyone was laughing happily or smiling shyly!
Apparently, in the area, photography is a serious business, a bit like in our old pictures, at the beginning of the XXth century, when it was not necessary to laugh on the family portraits...
But by repeating myself several times, with a lot of grimaces and encouragements expressed with my little vocabulary in Bahasa IndonesiaI still managed to capture the smile of this young girl from the nearby village.
I met her several times on the beach, carrying her load of fruits or vegetables. During our second meeting, she recognized me and asked me to take a picture of her, with the other carrier.
We even do several, and their faces are smiling when they see the result on the digital screen. They are obviously very happy.
I compliment them, tell them in Indonesian that they are very pretty, I thank them, they thank me, then put back their loads on their heads and go away...
We are neither in Bali nor in Sulawesi, people are less expansive here. On the beach as well as on the small road at the back, the few people I meet all greet me kindly, but without ostentation. Except for one guy, obviously the "gigolo" of the village, who gives me a whole spiel in his poor English for a long photo session: him alone on his bike, him in close-up without the bike, him with me in front of the bike...
As for the teens, they inevitably strike this pose that they must find too cool, hands raised and fingers pointed in various directions. They too look incredibly serious, while they were laughing the minute before...
In short, one does not get bored on this beach... One believes oneself alone in the world, facing the sea, but no. There is always someone who appears, without warning, as if out of nowhere. The combination "tourist + camera" must make its small effect...
What do you say we go back to diving?
Even on those days when it's gray, Pantar beach is beautiful. More melancholy, certainly.
Our little group of divers is going on and on. Two to three dives per day, in all weathers. Often, we leave Pantar beach on board of a small traditional outrigger canoe, to join the boat anchored further.
I must admit, I did more underwater than on the beach, for the pictures. After the "macro" series of the previous post, so I'm preparing an "ambiance" sequence in the next one... It's time to go back under the surface!