A few days ago I got home from work and felt really happy since the sky was blue and the sun was out. We have been going through rainy season in Ende where it is usually cloudy, although bright and ever humid.
I decided to take a walk to see the coconut juice man and enjoy a glass of my favourite thirst quencher. As I walked along my street, Radio Street, a neighbour I didn’t meet before stopped me to say hi. It turns out we had actually spoken in the supermarket the week before when I was cooing over his cute little baby! So that was cool, a new neighbour friend.
I continued on my walk down the hill, round the corner and along the street to the little coconut cart, just opposite the gravel football pitch. They open a young coconut with a small machete, pour the juice into a big plastic container, then half the coconut and use a beer bottle-top nailed to a piece of wood to scrape out the coconut flesh and throw that in with the liquid. In your glass you get ice, coconut, a little sugar water, a drop of condensed milk and a squeeze of lime, it is a delight!
On the football pitch, there was a game on which I was not expecting, but was pleased about since it gave me a reason to linger a little longer and enjoy the sun. I had a chat with the coconut man and told him I am going to Lombok island soon, which is where he is from, and he was very proud to think I would visit his home island, and I in turn felt happy for making him smile.
And then a friend from the office walked over and said he spotted me from the crowd. So we went over to watch the second half together. On the way, we bumped into another workmate and his girlfriend so stopped to say hello to them. We sat behind the away goals, in the shade of the park trees behind it and Willie tried to update me with the first half action. A voice from behind interrupted us and as I turned round I saw the friendly face of the policeman from the airport. Since I am there a lot we have spoken a little so it was very funny to see him out of work. He knew Willie too, who told him to come and join us.
In this moment, I felt really happy. I felt very settled in the town of Ende, and liked the homely feeling of bumping into people I know. Despite my minimal language ability and different lifestyle, I’ve turned a corner in Ende, with people getting used to me being there and starting to like it.
So I enjoyed the rest of the game with a smile on my face, not really watching it, but taking in everything that was around me – the mountains, the food stands, conversations with my friends, the people watching the game wearing their helmets, the group of policemen watching in their uniforms, the sea and the boats out fishing, aside from the litter, it is a pretty place.
The man standing with the mustard top is my workmate, Heri. He initiated this university league 3 years ago and now it is a highly anticipated competitive cup!