It was great to catch Agus again at the Lombok Mataram airport waving a sign “Welcome back…Kathy!!” wildly as we ran out of customs clearance. That wave of familiarity and comfort of being back. Lombok immediately felt like a home away from home. As soon as that thought conceived itself as the car rolled into Yuli’s Homestay, Agus chirped “welcome back to your second home!”
Dinner at Warung Java after dropping off our bags, was an intimate affair, with Agus sharing in proficient Japanese about the poor quality of the cloth the children were trying to peddle to us at the dinner table. Who can forget the all too familiar coaxing and smooth talking of the children as Wei Yuet went “I don’t need this” and the instant reply came like a well rehearsed flirt “you don’t need but you want it. Buy for your sister.” Save for the scratch I sustained getting embroiled in a cat fight that ensued beneath our table, dinner was a nice ease back into Lombok I left behind from September.
Agus brought us to meet Papa Ilung who used to be a fisherman and is currently working in the fishing industry department of the government, after that and it was an insightful sharing for the next hour or so.
A friend of Papa Ilung joined in our conversations as well and he shared about his time back in the 1990s when he was involved in the shipping of shark fin in Sulawesi to Singapore, Hong Kong and Macau. Back then, the dried processed fins fetched 200,000rp (approx USD200) per kilo but today they rack up to 1,000,000rp (approx USD1000) per kilo given the increased number of buyers and depleted sharks in the oceans. Thankfully, the hamerhead sharks south of Lombok off Belongas Bay remain mostly untouched as the fishermen venture to Irian and the Sumbawa Island to fish sharks. Apparently the shores off Lombok have a 12 mile territorial limitation the fishermen cannot fish within but as they venture further out at sea to the Zonal Economic Exclusives (ZEE) area, sometimes they encroach into Australian territorial limitations and end up being caught, jailed and their boats being confiscated for good. A very common bait used for the long lines being tuna, Papa Ilung showed us the hook lines he used to attach to long lines for baiting big fishes back in the day.
It was a fruitful night and the possibility of meeting the government authorities within the next few days, with a proposal for change after checking out the situation in Tanjung Luar again in the next few days, was an illuminating start to the return trip.