The village where whale meat is currency

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Photographs © Courtney Robba & Mark Robba

Update from near Alor in Nusa Tenggara Barat

Yesterday we went to this village… no running water, no electricity… no big deal. But this town was so poor their economy ran on barter. Barter of what, you ask? Whale meat.

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 6.36.32 PMThe fishermen take these teeny little wooden canoes out and with a hand spear they harpoon their prize. When we pulled up there was a huge floating white thing – whale blubber – all that was left of the carcass. The seas were too rough and there were too many rocks, so we couldn’t bring our dinghy to shore. We had to hop out into waist-deep water and swim with the blubber oil.

It seems they had caught 20 whales in the past three months. The one we saw was 17 meters long and three meters wide. The village was sadly and remarkably barren, and the only notable thing was the incredible display of drying whale steaks and massive whale bones. Absolutely incredible experience.

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 6.46.55 PMAs I write this, we are watching the sun set from about 100 meters off the side of an active volcano. Every 23 minutes, like clockwork, it explodes with a plume of smoke and a wee bit of lava. The sun setting with the residual smog leaves all of the sky colors obstructed and the sun looking like a ball of gas just floating on top of the water. Never seen anything like it.

Courtney Robba, Dunia Baru’s operations manager, has been based on the yacht for most of this year. This post is an extract from an email she sent to her family in September.

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