Being stuck on Flores set us back a whole week, which meant Norman didn’t have much time left to surf on Sumbawa. One evening we heard the ferry was leaving at 2AM (after a week of not running at all) so we packed up and left, because we had already just lost too much time and we had to leave as soon as possible.
The ferry ride went smoothly because we paid extra and got to sit in a VIP room, which was totally worth the extra we paid for it. I took a sleeping pill and actually didn’t have a bad night at all. We pulled into Sape harbour on East Sumbawa at 7AM and caught a decrepit bus to Bima, which couldn’t change past second gear and meant that the revs were through the roof the entire way.
After a 9 hour wait at the bus stop, which was close to torture, we boarded the night bus across Sumbawa. The buses were full, and our tickets ended up being the seats in front of the toilet that couldn’t recline! I was not charmed as I had already spent half an hour trying to get tickets on a nice bus so that the experience was not a repeat of the last time. The driver then assured me I could sleep right in the back of the bus where there is a small space for luggage, so I settled in there. 2 hours in the driver decided to sell that space to 2 people, even though it was clearly not a seat in any form. So I was told I had to leave. They sold any place where a bum could sit as a seat even though we were on the best, most professional bus available and were told this kind of thing wouldn’t happen.
To make matters worse, when Norman came to call me from the back, back to our seats, 2 Indonesians sat down in them an refused to move! What ensued was a heated 15 minutes where they insisted the seats were theirs, and they would not move. It was so bizarre! Norman had literally got up for 5 seconds and 2 people boarded the bus and claimed his seats. Eventually I, over tired and moody, screamed in his arrogant face to see his ticket, and it was for other seats, not ours! I could not believe it. I made him look at the numbers above our seats and then his ticket so that he would get the idea. His next idea was that him and Norman go sit in the back of the bus and his girlfriend and I can have the seats. We declined this offer forcefully as it was completely non sensical, like the rest of the situation. She would not move though and things almost got violent. We eventually got the seats back, but we were too afraid to leave them when the bus stopped for dinner because we thought that they would take them again. It was a horrible ride.
At 3AM we disembarked at the harbour on the other side of the island and bargained for about half an hour with 2 ojaks (motorbike taxis) to take us 2 hours south back to where we had stayed almost a month earlier, and left half of our luggage. We didn’t take all our luggage or Norman’s surfboards to Flores for the road trip so we had to go back and fetch it. My driver’s wheel went flat so I had to walk for a while, and then jumped on Norman’s taxi, and us 2 and his driver drove the rest of the way to our hotel.
We got there around 6AM, and reception was closed. Almost sick with exhaustion I fell asleep against the desk, which is so unlike me. An hour later the receptionist arrived and finally gave us a room. My relief was tangible. Needless to say we slept until late that afternoon.