It had been a realisation that whatever promise Ende might have to offer, I might have to promptly escape her throes on a dubiously scheduled flight that morning. Air services in this part of the world tended to be well frequented due to the nature of island isolation and tortuous surface travel, and so it was a major concern that I would get stuck for the want of availability. Having had to accept that I simply had no further time to complete my intended traverse of Flores and onto the allure of Lembata Island for example, Plan B was now to afford Ende a day and then fly out the next, but if that flight was booked out then I would be snookered. Awaital of the airports opening had me fighting a battle of repeatedly nodding off, only to subsequently discover that there were no computer terminals in situ and so no means of clarifying the situation. There was nothing for it then but to await the opening of the airline office, putting all of my frustrations in one basket then as I forsook that days flight and pinned my hopes on the next. The day after that the flight purportedly didnt operate, one more reason for my urgency. It at least afforded me a bed at long last, finding the indulgence of a nearby pricey option full but its neighbour still a palace for a pittance, geared up to tourist expectations but seemingly absent of them. Though sleep should have been a default reaction, my recent travails had left me in even more dire need of a tiresome laundry routine and full body makeover. That bitter sweet freezing cold Mandi had been a long time in coming and I had been like never before down to zero clean clothes besides underwear for days. What hadnt helped either was a recent spate of mosquito and even more infuriating ant bites, a swathe of heat spots around my neck and a dose of dhiorrea for good measure. You couldnt kid nature, hardcore travel strategy held a price to pay. I belligerently short changed myself with only 2 hours kip that morning, an enforced strategy to at least promptly elicit my options though in truth there was only one, the Merpati office just had to come up with the goods. To walk into their office and be habitually ignored was the unnerving experience I really didnt need right now, but soon enough I made my pleading demand and had my answer. Even here they werent computerised but the boy got on the blower and relayed my request, I punched the air as I walked out minutes later with ticket in hand. It was not just relief at securing the onward connection, but I now knew that I was just a day away from reaching not only the last island of Indonesia's incredible 5200K long chain, but all the facility promised by East Nusa Tenggara's capital, big city Kupang. Still paining at my enforced corner cutting which had served to slightly scupper my Europe to Australia overland ethos at the death, it was all I could do to accept the inevitable and at least make the most of Ende's offerings, finding only "Hello misters" where there should have been a brace of churches but locating nonetheless and more importantly a museum. This one was simply a house, a pretty gardened whitewash bungalow with yellow shutters which held a special place in the hearts of locals as the Bung Karno House. Before assuming his rightful place as Indonesia's first president, Sukarno had been interred here by his Dutch colonial repressors, finding the time here to not only write works of fiction and paint, but formulate the Pancasila, new nation Indonesia's 5 guiding principles.........
It was closed of course as these places tended to be, so I hoofed it round the corner to avail myself of a second museum. Though this one looked likewise deserted a couple of young kids playing in its picnic garden gave me the resolve to unlatch the gate myself and poke around, upon which a boy materialised to suggest I came back at 5. That left me a little perplexed and only served to reaffirm the impression that the Sumba house stylised Ikat Museum was more a tourist trap concerned with peddling its wares. Needless to say I did not return. Onwards to a large scruffy Padang area, a small unexpected monumernt was of passing interest, its intentionally fracturised finishing and clocks indicating a poignant moment at 1.29, am. or pm. I could not tell. My recent personal experience had occurred in the nick of time to be able to translate that an earthquake had struck here on 12th December 1992, doubtless a big one. Across the road was another bonus, an unforseen tourist office rendering a deja vu throwback to the one in Waikabubak on Sumba. Overstaffed with uniformly gorgeous mature ladies in khaki drill, they managed to muster not one but 2 passable leaflets on Ende and the Gunung Kelimutu region, just a pity then that they would promptly be deemed superfluous. An adjacent neglected parkland bore a very large and impressive bronzed statue of General Suharto, Indonesia's independence hero, and an obelisk celebrating 50 years of Indonesian independence, notably from it's original 1945 declaration and not its final realisation in 1949. The supreme heat had already deemed it Beer O'Clock and so I searched out Ende's sole tourist touting restaurant, presenting no customers and an array of unobtainable wall maps and leaflets I envied them for. The most interesting of its revelations was that Ende Island 14Ks offshore still bore the ruins of an old Portugese fort, and at an undisclosed locality known as Watunggere there were similar remnants constructed by an unknown national hero Marilonga who had resisted Dutch colonialisation.
Poking around Ende's central market from there revealed a very grubby encampment frequented by similarly grubby people, affirmed by the popular indulgence in mouth corrupting betel nut and the common proferring of the same, also a large pile of discarded buffalo and goat skulls. Strips of animal hide hung like washing to dry, though its repugnance did not exude any impression of its usage for craftwork, it was probably for consumption. Fruit and veg. were accompanied by chilis, pungent miniscule dried fish and yet more betel nut, but it was the first place I had encountered great piles of sweet potato. It was another reminder of Australia's proximity where they commonly indulged in what they call Kumera. Ende's superb backdrop of lurid green mountains and intense blues was sadly detracted by its beach being covered in filth and goats, prompting my election to escape its mirky litter laced shoreline waters in checking out the local cathedral. This large and contrastingly pristine whitewashed example was notable for its Dutch roof styling, with a very large Jesus statue symbolically boasting the faiths worldwide dissemination stood upon a globe. With Ende's so-so sights now squared away I could at least afford to appease myself with a long trek back to overdue sleep, chancing upon the way however a previously promised but untraceable Maritime Museum. That was just the kind of place to provoke renewed energy in me but alas through locked glass doors I could appreciate its entirety of scant poor offerings. A small whale skeleton and ridiculous looking porpoise effigy were surrounded by a clutter of seashells and storyboards fit for kids, too bad.