We returned to Sonrisa on the last week of Ramadan. While we normally enjoy five rounds of Call to Prayer per day, this increases over Ramadan with a word by word reading of the Al Quor’an through the dark of night. Each evening, we drink tea and watch the sunset. Smoke of wood fire and mist of humidity hang on layer after layer of Lombok’s rolling hills, the Al Quor’an recited in Arabic could be a mystical soundtrack to the backdrop except for one minor complication: there are at least seven different Mosques reading, all at the same time. The result is a melding of seven voices, base, baritone, a child-like soprano, sharp and flat all at the same time.
Ramadan is a period of time in which Muslims all over the world fast from dawn until sunset. Except for those who are pregnant, breast feeding, or chronically ill, observers do not eat any food, drink any water, smoke, or engage in intimacy with spouses during daylight hours. Once the sun has completely set, they can finally drink water and eat their dinner. In Indonesia, the Mosques recite the Al Quor’an over their loud speakers during the night time hours. Morning call to prayer starts at 3:00 a.m. to make sure everyone can wake up early enough (if they slept through the reading) to eat their breakfast before the sun rises.
“Don’t worry, it is not hard because I am strong.” One of our friends explains. He is very strong, but he has also lost quite a bit of weight while we visited the U.S. “He throws a thumb in the direction of one of his friends and teases: “Look at this guy’s belly, though! He hasn’t been following Ramadan.” I’m suddenly rather aware of my own over-plumped skin.
“When does Ramadan end?” Andrew asks.
“Friday we hope! Friday, maybe Saturday. We don’t know, yet.”
At first, we think this response is a hitch in English translation, but as the week wears on we become less hopeful we will be able to nail down the timeframe. We’ve heard Ramadan ends with a big feast day celebration of Eid al-Fitr. This particular community designs big floats with lights, holds a parade, and enjoys a feast to celebrate. We are hoping to check it all out.
Andrew struggles to ask why the date is uncertain in a mix of English and Bahasa Indonesian.
“The government decides the date, they will announce the end of Ramadan when it is time.” Our friends tell us. Instead of taking up the google-box and searching Wikipedia, we just continue to puzzle over the vague response.
Thursday night, we are enjoying sunset over jasmine tea and fake sugar (Sonrisa put us on a strict diet for the foreseeable future) when suddenly the number of fireworks popping on shore increases. “Getting ready for the big party tomorrow, I guess?”
“I guess!” We watch the firework show from the cockpit, it goes well into the night.
The next morning, Andrew texts our friends: “Is Ramadan over today? What time is the parade?”
“Ramadan is over already! The party was last night.”
“We missed it!?”
“You missed it!”
Oh no! How did this happen? Only now do we realize we should have Googled Ramadan to figure out what is going on. We learn Ramadan is a 29 - 30 day period, with Eid a-Fatir marking the end. Eid a-Fitr is declared when religious leaders see the crescent of the next month’s new moon. If no visual sighting is possible due to weather conditions, the fasting continues through the 30th day. Apparently, the crescent of the new moon was spied on Thursday night, and the party started early. “New Yesterday!”
With Ramadan over and End a-Fatir past, Andrew gets antsy to move on. He has been puttering around with Sonrisa’s systems, getting the water maker up and running, checking engine oil and transmission fluid, and climbing the mast to check the rigging. Anchor windlass works, GPS and chart systems work, navigation lights, check, check, check. We complete a test sail, circumnavigating the island of Gili Gede to confirm everything is ready. Sonrisa sails along side local sailboats with bright orange sails made of tarp.
Our friends convince us to come to shore and play pool one last time. Our pool games have not improved.
Then, we fold up Grin and he’s hoisted onto Sonrisa’s cabin top. Nas, our friend who took care of Sonrisa in our absence, stops by to say goodbye. Our friend, Bahasa Indonesia language teacher, and Taxi Driver extraordinaire, Adi, brings his cute little baby to the beach to wave to us as we go. “Catch you later, Gili Gede!” I wave with both hands over my head, and we are off on a new season of sailing onward, onward, onward!
We have 500 miles to cover between here and our next major destination of Kalimantan, or the Indonesian side of the larger island known as Borneo. We are breaking up the sail with two stops in two remote islands, tiny specks of green in that wide ocean of blue. Our first leg is 160 miles, a little over 24 hours to Kangean island. The trade winds are blowing, so we open the big genoa, install the pole to keep the sail positioned just right, then rocket downwind. The night is dry and starry, Sonrisa and I sit together listening to music through our night watch. It’s an easy sail, even if we are a tad seasick. I marvel at how this particular night watch, once a daunting prospect, feels as natural as pulling on my pajamas. I’ve found my rhythm, at least in this good weather and happy castoff toward something new.
Catch you later, Lombok and Gili Gede! Thank you for all the new friends, delicious food and warm welcome.