ON THE SEA, 17 JUNE 2014
Indonesian men like to smoke. Unashamedly, a lot, everywhere and all the time. All the berths and day rooms on the ship are smoky. Although it is repeatedly announced over the board loudspeakers that there should be no smoking on board and consideration should be shown towards women and children, the injunction goes unheard. Until fairly recently the smoke smelled of cloves from kretek cigarettes. But ever since Philip Morris bought up a few Indonesian kretek cigarette brands a few years ago, the new smell made in America has been driving out the traditional local fragrance of cloves.
It is cool and breezy on deck. Although the floor is hard and uncomfortable, it’s a good deal more pleasant here than in the smoky overcrowded bowels of the boat. Towards midnight on our second night at sea, the sky grows ominously overcast accompanied by a heavy swell. A tropical rainstorm sweeps across the Sinabung. The passengers who had found a place to sleep next to us and the women peddlers flee the deck to seek a small dry place to sleep in the already teeming quarters down below.
I pull on my rain jacket, meanwhile shielding my camera from the rain, and walk around on deck. What looked like a fairground just a few hours ago has now been swept clean. Not a soul on deck. All I hear is rain and the whistling wind. And all at once, the Sinabung seems a ghost ship.