I’m back in Meno for 10 days or so. My usual house has been booked long term by a dive instructor but i was happy to get back to the smaller bungalow: more breezy and with plenty of space in the front terrace.
This is the same room where in 2012 i recorded the album Afronesia, an acoustic ambient folk piece of work whose contributed to help the sea turtles of Bolong Turtle Sanctuary.
It’s the first time i visit in October/November as i usually prefer the end of the wet season. The island is a bit more dry but it’s great because the breeze flows through the tree more easily and this balances the highest humidity.
In Gili Meno i enjoy going back to a very healthy and simple routine: it normally starts with an early wake and a stroll to the main beach before it’s too hot. I can always enjoy the view of the majestic Gunung Rinjani, the main vulcano in Lombok and have a swim before the beach gets too crowded.
Walking around the island i could notice more bars and businesses are opening and many of them are sadly catering to midrange tourists who prefer concrete bungalows and aircon rather than the old school accomodatations, but on the other hand a lot of the smaller places are paying attention to the plastic issue and collecting lighters, flip flops and rubbish turning it into decorations.
My good old friend Ofick, who has always been artistically active and in my opinion years ahead compared to the other people on the island, started recycling longtime ago and it’s good to see that despite his small beach bar being shut by a big new resort who bought the land, is still creating art.
The increasing number of tourist who flock to the island regardless the low season, created more job opportunity for the locals and people from Lombok. This guy for example learned to bake pizzas literally few weeks ago but it seemed to be already confident and very happy and proud of his new occupation.
Despite the higher number of midrange accomodations and fancy restaurants, i still find western food options on the island quite bland and disappointing, so my food of choice is still the nasi campur i can get for the price of a touristy bottle of water in one of the few warungs that remained very active.
Every morning mama Buati prepares rice, vegetables, tempeh, tofu, fried eggs, fish and chicken and with an Euro or so, one can get a plate full of goodness.
She also cooks more traditional Lombok dishes such as Cap Cay, Urap Urap and Pelecing Kangkun, but from time to time she learns some new dish from other parts of Indonesia, trying the recipes she finds on her cook book.
Staying on the island for at least 10 days at a time and eating in her warung almost twice a day, after a while she gives me some jobs to do in the kitchen in exchange of a free kopi, or some extra free food.
I used to work in the kitchen and i kinda love going back to preparations, even though the massive quantities of garlic and onion i have peel in the tropical heat don’t make it an easy task!
While mama and her helpers cook for the long day ahead (this warung can serve up to hundreds meals a day), her husband Pak Man (Mr. Man), who is a 67 years old retired architecht with a knack for kung fu and singing birds, carefully fixes the bamboo cages where he keeps his rare colourful birds.
Once i had my meal it’s normally around noon and the outside temperature gets scorching, so my favourite thing to do is going back to my bungalow for a well deserved midday siesta. I open up all the windows and let the breeze in, get a cool shower and lay in bed for a few hours sleeping or watching a movie (very often both things combined)!
I normally try to wake up before 3PM so that i can go back to the beach and enjoy a bit of the afternoon sun. The colour of the sea keeps changing all throughout the day and i love the blue it turns around that time.
Once the shade starts covering the eastern part of the island, i like to go back home walking through the village. It’s a great opportunity to see the locals enjoying their free time once the heat is more bearable . Some of them love football so much that the island has 3 official teams!
If my morning are made for exercise, swimming and relaxing, the afternoon has different qualities. It’s less hot and the light gets slowly warmer, giving the whole island a beautiful amber glow.
When i have a good book to read, (and in this case i had a great one) i love to go and chill at one of my favourite spots on the west coast. I grab a seat, order a drink and while the bar gets busier with people gathering for the sunset, i enjoy my reading while the call to prayer reaches the beach.
Sometimes i walk away from the beach before the sunset and before it gets too crowded with selfie-takers and drinkers and i like to walk back to my place cutting through the lake. I’ve been here so many times that i can recognize when there’s gonna be a great sunset, plus i know all the best spots to catch it!
I almost prefer watching the orange-pink-blue sky from the village…
Even though, towards the end the beach is still the best place!