Sagu And Cigarettes

This off-topic pretentious post will try to reflect a few random conversations with Mentawaian tribal people over some sagu and cigarettes.

Indonesian language is not difficult and learning it is very rewarding as locals are extremely friendly. In other countries I couldn’t produce more than a few basic words and phrases: hello, numbers, thank you, how much?, that’s too expensive bitch!, where is the cheapest beer in town?, I swear she told me she was 18…

I don’t want to show off but here I am able to deal pretty well with small talk and even discuss about other topics such as Dostoevsky  literary existentialism  or asking how many chicken people have.

Please note that on the talks with the people below misunderstandings may have happened. Our Indonesian was quite limited and we learnt only a few words in Mentawaian. Some locals could barely speak Indonesian as well. Our guide was bilingual in Indonesian and Mentawain but his English was not that good.

Please note that for make any sense of this post you must read this one first.

To the point, here a few people’s stories:

First clan shaman

\when not busy doing shaman stuff he plays poker online to get some extra income to his clan. As well he is doing an online MBA and studying to become a broker. He has as well a business plan for the future development of his clan. He wants to start a sagu export company and with the profits expand the company and get more chicken and pigs. I will help with to build a website. If things work he would like to take his company to the stock market.

DSCN1907He showed me a few excel spreadsheets where he has the numbers for his ideas on an iPad he hides under his clothes.

Kid from the first clan

His dream is to become a magician. He is already learning animal hypnosis as you can see in the picture with his cock. I gave him some playing cards to learn some tricks. I have other plans for him.


The three ladies

On the 60’s they moved to California as their dream was to become Hollywood actresses. As many other girls they failed and their destiny took separate paths.

One of them started working as a waitress and w years later would marry a truck driver who died 10 years on a crash. She was very depressed for a long time.

The 2nd one started working as a stripper and got addicted to heroine which she paid … well you know how. She end up living on the street.

The 3rd one joined a bunch of hippies and traveled America in a van enjoying the free sex and drugs pleasures. After a few years she got tired of that life and decided to look for her 2 friends. She rescued them and persuade both to go back to their home village together.

Then they realized that their happiness is being with their people eating sagu and smoking cigarettes … and boobs freedom!


Mr Machete

He would like to get more job with trekkers in order to make some money and buy a bigger machete.


Amatople (2nd clan shaman)

He loves music and parties. He is a very easy going guy. He is fed up of his bitchy wife and his 7 children always asking for stuff. He is tired of waking u early and going to hunt monkeys, chopping sagu trees, shamaning… He has an escape plan. He wants to sell one of his daughters (a very attractive 13 years old girl) to the 1st clan shaman, the businessman, for 3 pigs. Then he would give the swines as a present to the generator-music clan expecting they let him to stay there so every evening he can play his favorite artists: Celine Dion, Groove Armada, Ramnstein, Wilco…


Julio (yes, me)

As Homer Simpson did already in one episode I’d like to conduct an experiment and corrupt the Island people.

First I would need to lecture the locals on my idea of democracy … or enforce it American style. It is based on Bender Rodriguez idea of improved democracy: one with casinos and prostitutes, actually, even better, without democracy.

On my plans I am counting with the people I mentioned above for my casino-bar-disco-brothel. The 1st clan shaman would be my partner. I will use his kid as a croupier. The 3 ladies would make decent topless waitresses. Mr Machete, the doorman and security guy. Amatople could be the DJ and PR. Finally I would need to hire a batak toba to produce tuak and grow some quality shrooms.

Sealing the deal


To my geek friends, I am sorry to disappoint you but this is about the Indonesian island.

no geeks
Not this java

Jakarta is another huge chaotic Asian city. I thought I would like as I usually do with this kind of places. Not the case. Apart from the friendly people we met there and took us around nothing interesting there.

After the Mentawai days sleeping on the floor, with no toilettes and not many food choices it was good to have some comforts though. We stayed with a well-off family and had a lot of luxury: a sitting toilette, air-con and even hot water! Didn’t remember last time I saw such things, definitely not in Sumatra.

Good reminder
Good reminder
Upgrading from economy class to sleeper

I felt pretty sick for a few days and finally I went to a very posh hospital in Bandung for some tests. They told me to stay in the city and go back in a couple of days to redo the test as it might be dengue. I did the sensible thing, leaving without paying the bill and as I felt better on the next day, going to climb a volcano (Papandayan).


After Sumatra I found west Java bit dull. Now I understand what girls feel when they are with someone after me.

We had a good time by the beach in Pangandaran, rather due to the people we met than to the place itself.

The Lost Paradise

After the trekking, we went straight on a “speedboat “(banana boat with an engine) to a small tiny island. There are no permanent inhabitants, but a very few local may be around gathering coconuts.  We went with 2 guys from the Mentawai family next to Surfaid and stayed in a very basic bamboo hut they had there. Probably we were the only bules there in lots of years.  The beauty of the place is difficult to describe, an unspoiled tropical paradise we had for ourselves. We spent our time fishing, cooking, eating, swimming, practicing Indonesian… Everything perfect there but the fucking mosquitoes and sandflies. Despite using repellent, I got hundreds of bites. Mosquitoes level God, even for tropical standards. And that is a risk, being the Mentawai a malaria hotspot and dengue not uncommon.

Once back, sadly we left the amazing Mentawai, no doubt a highlight of this trip and a place I would love to go back for further exploration.

Again difficult to choose pics for this post so here all Mentawai pics.

A Clockwork Coconut

This post is about football, but I am not going to talk about the Champions League, Messi, CR96 or any sort of millionaires. I am posting here a few pics about the real football, the one played in the streets or, in this case. in the middle of the jungle. The field was located in a small village (Rogdog) in the Mentawai Islands. It was tilt and completely uneven, in some players  get into mud till the knees. Children and adults play barefoot with a stone-like hard ball. Maybe their skills and style are not the one of the legendary Clockwork Orange (Gullit, Van Basten, Rijkaard…) or the post Raul Spanish tiki-taka but after playing with them they deserve my admiration as much as those teams.

The bule team tried its best at the game and it won… a lot of laughs and the sympathy of the locals… My role resembled more the one of a Takeshi’s Castle (Humor Amarillo) contestant (chino Cudeiro, sorry no translation for this) than the one of a football player.

At the same village a guy showed us a wild pig he hunted with his bow and arrows. Difficult to believe but from the wound seemed he was not lying.

Bule team
Bule team



PS: Forza Depor.

Into The Wild

This could be the title for almost any Sumatran post but it suits specially well the Mentawai Islands.

The place is a world apart and feels very unlike anywhere else I saw before, despite of being only 11 hours by ferry from the Sumatran mainland.

When we arrived to Siberut  people were cleaning after a bad flooding.  Plenty of water and mud was still all around.

On the ferry we conformed the 5 people bule team. We met as well a local Surfaid employer. That was the key to have an amazing time there. He helped us to arrange everything and hooked us with the right people. We used the Surfaid office and a local family home next to it as our headquarter. We got a local guy to take us for the trekking for $5 a day per person (add another $5 for sleeping, food and presents and that’s it). After sorting things out we were ready to depart for 5 days.

Some parts of the trek were really hard, fighting the knee level deep mud. During 3 days another local joined us walking barefooted with a machete on the front (no extra charge for him).

People in the jungle have a hunting-gathering life style. Nowadays they have a few pigs and chicken though. Still they don’t work the land, maybe cos they don´t know how to, maybe they are too lazy or maybe just cos they don’t give a fuck. The base of their alimentation is the sagu, which they obtain from a tree that they use to feed their animals as well. It is quite tasteless unless mixed with coconut.

Old people have their bodies fully tattooed, even their faces but the Indonesian government don’t allow these tradition any more.  One shaman offered to make me a tattoo for $10 but I was too tired and the tools looked very painful.

We stayed with them in their very basic one room homes, sharing all together our and their food.  They expect some presents. Apart from coffee, sugar and rice we brought candy for the adults and cigarettes for the kids (shit! now I realized it was supposed to be the other way around). Everyone loves smoking so cigarettes are considered a very valuable item.

One evening when staying in a very remote home we heard some music coming from the middle of the jungle, wtf??? Apparently a stupid TV show about bules living in wild tribes for a while was recorded in a nearby house. They left them with a generator and now, as longs as they manage to get some money to buy petrol they would play loud music every evening. Anyway, I prefer the tunes of Amatople, the eccentric shaman we stayed with. He is a showman and loves singing anything from traditional Mentawai songs to  the Indonesian anthem.

I could write lots more about the amazing Mentawai people but then that would take 5 posts and bore you and me. In the future I will try to upload an off-topic post about some conversations with them.

As well, I would like to add lots of photos to this post but it is very difficult to choose so here  all the Mentawai pics. Check them out.

Boobs as promised
More boobs
And more boobs! Like Tele5 good times

No Direction Home (11th April, 6 months special)

It has been already half a year since I decided to engage in a deeper relationship with my awesomeness, times go by so quickly. There were a lot of good moments and a few bad ones tough the balance remains still very positive. I will stick to the good ones and remember the amazing places I have seen and the great people I met.

When I was sure my first destination (Nepal) would pass undefeated here I am writing this from the astonishing Mentawai Islands, off the coast of wild Sumatra, which is gonna be a strong contestant for the trip top destination.

During this time I learn a few things I would like to share, here a couple of random ones:

  • Before I only knew only 3 total foods (I call that to the ones you can survive on for month without taking anything else). These were my mum lentils soup, Lidl noodles and obviously beer. I  have 2 new additions to the list: dal baht and coconuts.
  • Despite what most people and guidebooks (probably financed by the bottled water lobby) will tell you, tap water around Asia is usually safe to drink. You just need to purify it using a very simple method, by adding 2 parts of whisky to 1 part of tap water.  Seriously there are a lot of alternatives to trash the planet unnecessarily with plastic.

As I felt I was running out of ideas to write about and people were getting tired of reading my crap I started to upload a lot of photos to the last posts. As I feel this was not enough I will try something else to keep people interested, so, against my will, I have no choice but to upload pics of cats for the ladies and boobs for the gents. Whether this sounds like a reward, a punishment or a threat to you a pic of my writing naked will be here soon. Please stay tuned and feel free to drop me a line any time you are bored at work.

Thanks to the people who helped me on this trip and the ones that keep reading this blog. More to come…

Muten Roi - Muten Roshi
If this pic doesn’t say anything to you, you didn’t have a childhood
My Boots
Like a rolling stone

My Big Fat Minang Wedding

Padang is another dusty Sumatran city with no sights but with a reputation for its great food. On arrival we spotted a wedding. I put on my best shirt (well, the only one I have) and we approached the event in the usual way, wandering around till someone invites us.  Once again, it worked.


The food was delicious, the people very friendly and we even got the wedding gift. Booze was missing though as they were Muslim.

Despite of the look of it, disappointingly this drink contained no drugs
Despite of the look of it, disappointingly this drink contained no drugs

Rides on Padang opelets (shared taxis) are quite fun, most of them have a lot of tuning with huge speakers inside. The drivers’ music choice + lights + loud volume makes you feel like in a mobile disco.

There are a lot of obstacles. It is not possible to walk a few meters without anyone asking you for pictures with them, trying to help you to reach your destination, looking for a small chat or simply greeting the bule. We are getting used to the “rock star” status in Sumatra.

Let children come to me
Living the Catholic dream, let children come to me

Saved By The Bell

As I already wrote on the previous post we were to Batu Sangkar to help at a school. On arrival we met our host, Mr. Edi. Apart from owning a school an teaching English he promotes Herbal Life. Here a picture of the before / after he proudly displays at his school.

Herbal Life
8 kg in 3 months, true story
Edi and Bule
School head master Mr Edi and Assistant Teacher Mr Bule

Our job consisted mainly in just having conversations with the kids. As well one morning we went to other schools to promote Mr Edi’s, our task, being bule and giving away flyers to the kids with a big smile.

Teacher Liz, she has a lot of patience with the kids

As well I taught the children the importance of pointing at bules any time they spot one

Sometimes it was not easy to answer kids’ questions. One child asked me about my favorite drink. For a while I was only able to think about alcoholic ones and finally I could only reply “water”. There was as well an uncomfortable moment when, not in purpose, I asked to the classroom least slim girl what was her favorite food and the kids started to laugh and probably make nasty remarks. F*ck, what I was thinking about…

Me writing NAKED, as promised

Mr Edi, all the teachers and the kids were always extremely friendly and provided us delicious food. It was a great experience and I enjoyed a lot my time there. We had time to visit the amazing King’s Palace and a bunch of traditional Minang Kabau houses.

King Palace
King’s Palace


On The Road

The way from the Toba Lake to Bukikttingi took us 2 days, mainly hitchhiking. The 1st leg was specially nice because of the pretty landscape and the batak toba people, a lot of them greeting us, being children the most enthusiastic.


From the many vehicles that gave as a lift 2 stood up: a police pickup and an ambulance where smoking was allowed.


During the evening we could see a lot of tuak fueled happiness around. A guy on a motorbike approached us from behind when in the police pickup. His plain reply “to drink tuak”. He was carrying a huge (30l approx) bottle. A man with a purpose.

For the first time in my life I went into the Southern Hemisphere, that mysterious place where the water rotates the other way around when flushing a toilette. Amazing Coriolis!. I want to check it myself and probably will spend hours just looking at the toilette when I find one, not an easy task in this area. Will try to upload a video downing a few turds to share with you my amusement.

As promised and completely unrelated to this post, a pussycat

While having my first breakfast in Bukittinggi a guy proposed us to go to Batu Sangkar to help an English teacher in exchange for free an accommodation. We accepted, but will leave that for next post.

Not far from Buki we checked the beautiful raflesia flower.

Raflesia and bule feet

We climbed Marapi volcano at night without a guide against the Bible advice. Of course we got lost and I was very frightened for a couple of hours, but with the sunrise we were able to be back on the right track. On the top there were lots of clouds so we couldn’t enjoy the views, still very worth the though climbing and descend.

Summiting Marapi

Finally we went to the pretty Lake Maninjau. It was nice but we didn’t explore a lot as it rained a lot and we were exhausted from the Marapi.

Non sunset at Maninjau