Sat drinking a cold one with my new friend Yanis in Penang, he asked me and Senna to join him in Nias, Indonesia, and help him build Salty Dog Hostel. We agreed upon his promise of world class sunsets and spear fishing adventures. Most of our travel experiences have been enjoyable, but this adventure would surpass all others. We embarked upon our journey to Nias, a two day journey, to arrive at Boloho Bay via wooden bridge and stone road. We met our new hosts, Axel and Yanis, and drank the night away under cover of a sweeping sunset. We discussed the work we were to undertake and sat peacefully talking until the late hours of the evening. Once the morning arrived we got to work, building speakers out of bamboo from the jungle. The hostel sits right on the horseshoe bay, a few yards from the sea, surrounded by palm trees and countless jack fruit trees. Yanis grows and catches his own food, Axel goes prawning in the evenings and the locals come by selling mud crabs for very cheap. This seafood diet does wonders for your body whilst the local home brew ‘Tuac’ does the opposite, ruining your insides like drain cleaner. We began to make ‘Tuac’ shakes out of fresh pineapple and coconut milk to offset the vinegar flavor. We took a trip to a nameless, multi-story waterfall that cascaded down its various levels as you slide from section to section on the smooth rock. Getting there was a small battle, as no path exists, but upon arrival we took out our camping stove and ate small pink fish on the rocks. We ate with our hands from plastic plates and cleaned ourselves up before exploring this amazing area. A few days later we left Nias for four days and traveled to an island opposite Telo. This trip would test Senna and i worried about her coping mechanism. We took only a hammock and snorkels, knives and some plastic sheeting. After what seemed like a lifetime waiting for the rain to stop on Telo, so that we could convince a boat to take us to the island, we left the family who gave us shelter and coffee and negotiated a price. Twenty minutes later we wandered the shoreline looking for a suitable tree to hang our gear and begin our survivalist experience. I must admit, we did have eggs as a starvation safety precaution but gladly, we didn’t have to use them. We spent our days spear fishing and walking around the island and our evenings cleaning, cooking and eating our days catch. The night of the storm was a testing time, as the wind swept the rain into camp and
soaked us all evening. We sought shelter and spent an evening covered in ants and mosquitoes. The trip back came with a sense of accomplishment and a pride in Senna’s adaptability. She impressed me with her ability to see the funny side during the storm and enjoyed the food we provided each day whilst reading and relaxing in the hammock or going snorkeling. The journey back to Nias was smooth enough and upon arrival Axel was waiting with his beaming smile and warm heart to take us back to our half built hostel for a well earned sleep.
Our next few weeks included many culinary delights from the ocean as we gorged on prawns, lobster, mud crab and fish. Me and Yanis built through the days and played pool in the evenings with the local workers. Axel’s family would occasionally prepare meals and we all sat together and feasted and chatted the evenings away. This was our family now, all 10 of us. We worked without health and safety constraints with the sun on our backs and a beer in our hands.
Senna continued with her on-line teaching school, DeTaalschool.com, and we saved money whilst enjoying this adventure, booking our flights to Krabi, Thailand. Our adventure came to an end and we waved farewell, with heavy hearts, to our adopted family and Juna (an interesting young fellow who’s mind is on the moon). On to our next adventure with lesser sunsets, expensive living and sadness inside. Thank you Salty Dog Hostel, we shall return.