We are reminded that not everyone is in as much of a hurry as we are
We left Puruk Cahu in a rush of highly organised confusion, consistent with the style of the rest of the expedition. With all of our paperwork organised and supplies bought, all that was left to do was unload our cargo from the slow boat onto a faster motorboat.
As ever, things didn’t go quite according to plan. The owner of the boat was asleep which meant we couldn’t unload. While I was buying some last items some of the team got confused and rushed on to start unloading, thinking they had permission. You can imagine how this would have looked to the crew and the porters, whose job of unloading the boats is fiercely protected.
I hurried back with some juice as a peace-offering, but all had calmed down by the time I arrived. The porters were working and our team was bathing in the sunshine on the roof of the boat, or lounging on the pontoon.
The next delay was in bartering for the price of our boats. There are no fixed prices here so as a team that is seen as a walking cash point (which is not so unfair a presumption on their part considering the wealth of our respective nations) a lot of time is taken up with negotiating on terms.
Bartering in Indonesia is generally a gentle and respectful affair. Indonesians go out of their way to be polite and to not cause offence or embarrassment. The flip side of this is that it takes much longer. We had aimed to leave by 7am, but with these two events we weren’t off until just before midday.
On Our Way
It’s all worth it though. The feeling of setting off on the boat, knowing that there was no more shopping or fretting about customs or sitting in immigration offices to be done, and that after so much planning and preparation we were finally on our way, and on our own, was so incredible I had to celebrate by jumping into the tea coloured water of the Barito river at the first stop to wash away all the stress of the last 18 months.