We had a great time on the island of gods but now we leave Bali behind and fly to Maumere on the island of Flores. Here, Claudia and her Indonesian husband Kermi own the small but lovely Ankermi Happy Dive Resort. We know the two from previous trips, meet them sometimes in Indonesia and sometimes in Switzerland and over the years a wonderful friendship developed. It’s almost like coming home when we finally walk through the gates of Ankermi. In this part of the Indonesian world of island we want to spend the next two months. Kermi explains with a laugh, that in Switzerland we have the watches, but here they have the time.

In the morning, the sun rises over the bay and in the evening, it disappears in the ocean as a red fireball. The sea is flat and calm and after some terrific sunsets, we believe to understand, how it was meant with having the time.

The days pass by and we dive in, not only literally in the underwater world, but into the deep relaxation this vacation brings with it… By the end of the first week there’s even something like routine! After breakfast on a day without diving we meet at the small pool with sea view, laze on the sun loungers and read books, listen to music or chat with other guests. At lunchtime we get something to nibble and at the very latest when the sun goes down, we look forward to a home-made Arak cocktail. Arak – or Moke as it’s called here in Maumere – is the local liquor made from palm fruits and especially the one from this part of Flores is known far beyond the island. Not bad, if one sits so close at the source…


And then, one day when Claudia is shopping in the city and Kermi away on a dive trip, guests arrive earlier than planned… So what, meanwhile we feel at home here and therefore Thomas takes over the welcome and introduction of the new guests with the help of well-trained and extremely helpful staff.

“This feels good” I think, “it’s not like work, but my passion for dealing with people, I can live out well here…” And so I start to support Claudia and Kermi wherever I can. There are plenty of diving tanks to fill every day, guests have questions about places to visit in the surroundings and soon Claudia and Kermi even entrust me with the daily cash payments and I settle the final bill with the departing guests. When the two have to travel for a few days to Bali for family reasons, it gets serious! I am appointed interim manager and with my extremely limited knowledge of the Indonesian language I try to act as a link between the guests and the staff when room changes are due, blankets or pillows are missing and for all the other concerns, little aches and pains. It’s more fun with every day that passes and when the two come back, I almost force them to let me stay in charge for a few more days ?


Also, our explorer hearts get what they are aching for! Kermi takes us to several local markets, opens our culinary curiosity with visits to food stalls and small restaurants and with Claudia we take a trip to a remote waterfall somewhere in the nowhere. And if we write “nowhere,” we mean it! We first drive two hours by car along the winding Trans-Flores highway, then we leave it and follow a bumpy road past beautiful rice fields and through small villages until we can’t go any further. There, a couple of young men await us with their motorcycles and drive us another hour over hill and dale. The fact that it starts to rain and that the loamy path turns into a slippery slope only contributes to the adventure. After a walk along a small stream, we then are rewarded with an impressive waterfall, hidden and surrounded by steep, moss-green cliffs.


Stefan also gives his everyday life a change and starts jogging again after this activity has been neglected in the last travel year.

“I try to jog along the bay once a day. Again, it is not the watch that determines me, but the tides. Only at low tide the beach is wide enough to walk in the sand without getting wet. Soon the fishermen who go out to sea in their canoes and throw their nets to catch the most necessary for the day know me. The children greet me with “hello mister” and walk with me for a while.”

I notice how happy the people are, even though they possess little except time and what the ocean gives to them. No, they possess something else too, freedom. The sea gives them enough food and they don’t have to worry about properties. No mortgage or other debts and no stressful job to make enough money to pay for the former. When they caught enough fish and aren’t hungry anymore, they sit on the beach laughing or sleep in the shade of a tree.

I keep running, enjoying the freedom and the clean air and the view of the bay. How nice to be able to be happy with so little. Hopefully, the people can continue to live like this for a long time. I realize how closely people and their happiness are linked to a clean ocean. The sea and its reefs give these people everything they need and we are richly rewarded on our dives too.


If we don’t jump into the water straight off the jetty at the resort, we ride on a small fishing boat to the offshore islands about an hour away. From time to time dolphins or pilot whales accompany us. Diving is something magical. We exhale completely and the empty lungs make us sink into a blue wonder world. With the next breath out of the tank, we are surrounded by the vibrant life of an intact coral reef. We meet huge marble rays and whitetip reef sharks patrolling at a depth of thirty meters. Shallower in the reef, thousands of small and colorful fish dance through the crystal-clear water in search of food. We are enchanted and our hearts jubilate. Reluctantly and only when the last breath of air from the bottle is used up, we leave this magic world and surface again.


At the end of our stay in Flores, we decide to do a few dives in the Komodo National Park in the far west of the island. Our anticipation gets even bigger when Claudia spontaneously decides to join us on the dive safari! What a crowning finale of our time together, after all we don’t know when and where we will meet again… As we board the vessel, we move in to our cabins and then make ourselves comfortable on the sundeck for the cruise through the islands. We chat, laugh and become a bit melancholic every now and then, knowing that we will be leaving soon. All the more we enjoy the common dives, no matter if at half past six in the morning even before breakfast or after sunset and equipped with flashlights at a mystic night dive.

Once more, with our stay away from the major tourist flows, we became aware of how closely the friendly people with their shy laughter are connected to the ocean and its filigree and vulnerable underwater world and we wish that both will last for many centuries. The next time we buy a vacuum-packed tuna steak in the refrigerated shelf of one of our local supermarkets, we also want to remember that and perhaps indulge ourselves with something more sustainable…
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