Over the years I developed a kind of addiction for remote / super remote places. It´s a combination of my very early fascination for aviation and an adventurous heart that I somehow discovered when we started to dive.
There is hardly a thing that I love more than being the only westerner on a bus, a boat or a plane. The curiosity of the locals is something that I enjoy most.
There are funny stories when locals ask you were you are coming from and I answer from Germany. In remote parts of Indonesia they mostly say “Oh, Schweinsteiger or Ballack” (For those of you that aren´t familiar with football, these two are/were German football players). But it can also happen that they tell you some names that you don´t know. In Manokwari one of the locals that asked me where I´m coming from said “ah, Ottow and Geisler”. Who the fucks are Ottow and Geisler was written on my face. Later on I learned that these two guys were the first missionaries that arrived in Manokwari. They are still big heroes for the locals and there is an annual parade to honor them. I´m not talking about the church, sculptures and last but not least the holy water shower on Pulau Mansinum.
To me it is always fun to go to these kinds of places. Bringing your own compressor, driving all night long through the jungle. It can be challenging, too. Your rooms are sometimes not something you would describe as comfortable. I once preferred to take the cold mandi (bucket shower) for a week with three dives a day instead of the gas powered warm shower, because I was afraid that I´ll blow up the room when I would use it (didn´t look trustworthy at all). I could hardly find any sleep in a “hotel” in Nabire, because I was afraid that the ceiling would collapse. But it´s opening up your mind and sometimes also makes you remember how privileged we are living in Germany and that my generation hasn´t seen a war ourselves.
The maybe most depressing moment was a visit to Goa Jepang, the Japanese cave, in Biak. The Japanese’s used this cave system to hide from US troops. After some days of heavy fights the US army found out about the hideaway and bombed the cave system. After the collapse of the ceiling they threw barrels filled with gasoline in the open pit and set them on fire. It is said that approx. 3000 Japanese soldiers lost their lives in the cave. Standing in this scenario gave me goose bumps allover.
But the most wonderful moments are the ones when you are sitting on a beach on your own and enjoying the sunset.
I find the following quote of Henry Rollins absolutely spot on “Loneliness adds beauty to life. It puts a special burn on sunsets and makes night air smell better.”
Or moments when you are looking for cellphone reception to let your loved ones know that you are ok.
All in all I feel privileged that I`m able to see these beautiful places and having all these experiences.
Is it something for everyone? Definitely not, but once you crossed the line your heart is and will always be filled with gratefulness.