January 31, 2007
If you want to risk your life when flying, Garuda Indonesian Airlines is the carrier for you. A combination of duct tape throughout the isles, cockroaches in the seats, and ashtrays in the armrests created a frightening environment as we island-hopped from Jakarta to Manado, a small island in the Northern Sulawesi Islands. Either way, we made it to our hotel alive before shipping out the next day to our huts on Bunaken Island.
My room deserves a paragraph of its own. Wes Crowdis and I shared a two-bed closet with no air-conditioning, a fan we had to steal from girls on our trip, mosquito-net cots, and a saltwater birdbath in place of the shower. Also, apparently MC Homestay Bunaken had double-booked our room because I interrupted the cockroaches from the Garuda flight using our “squatter” toilet when I inspected the bathroom. Needless to say, this room provided a housing experience that was unrivaled on our trip.
Proudly, Bunaken Island serves as a remote getaway for divers from all around the globe. Its coral reefs and unique aquatic life have been its main attractions for decades. And although we went snorkeling (and hunting for fish with spears we made), this was not what attracted me to the
island. What attracted me most were the people who lived on the island. Not only were they friendly, but also they were extremely appreciative of our visit. Since the United States placed a travel advisory on almost all of Indonesia, ecotourism in this region has suffered. Ignoring our domestic warnings, as a group, we befriended the locals. At night, a few people from our group would build campfires on the beach using coconut oil and we would listen to our new friends play music. During the day, we would play soccer together on the beach using bamboo poles