Today was a great day for paddle boarding: Calm seas, 30 meter viz and loads of turtles popping up to say hello. But on top of that bluest of blue water I was uneasy and nervous.
This is why.
About a week ago a boat carrying tourists from Bali to Gili Trawangan, the place I call home, exploded and killed at least 2 tourists, maybe 3, and severely injured at least 19 others. One woman had both feet blown off.
It has rocked our little community and stirred up emotions I thought were far behind me. This particular boat was one of the “safe” ones. Its’ website boasts of being “Australian owned & managed” which gave those of that live here & regularly travel on these boats a false sense of security. Last year when a boat from a dodgy company blew up, the sentiment was, ya, well, what to expect riding on THAT boat. So, when one of the “good guys” had the worst accident yet, I find myself shaken.
If you are not a regular reader of this blog you may not know that I was involved in a boat accident 3 years ago that resulted in 3rd degree burns on both legs & hands and a long hospital stay in Indonesia. I’m fully recovered but it took me a while to put on my big girl pants & get back on one of those big fast boats.
Indonesia is a country that has very poor marine safety standards (well, safety standards of any sort, really) and there are always stories of ferries sinking, and boats exploding, but very few involve foreigners and therefore never make a blip in the media radar outside of Indonesia. And fair or not, when foreigners die, it makes the AP.
Apparently there will be a big meeting with a myriad of government officials to discuss this accident and marine safety. I’m sure they will make a big show of it, and appoint a minister of marine safety, or some such meaningless title. But business will continue as usual, inspections will be nothing more than a stamp & a pay off because this is a society & culture that has no appreciation for consequences. And they give exactly zero fucks about anyone’s safety, including their own.
Boat owners will forgo preventative maintenance because it takes time & money. Another accident will happen, and another, and people will shrug and say something unbelievably stupid like “It was Allah’s will” or “it was meant to be” thinking that absolves anyone & everyone of responsibility.
But when you choose to live on an island in the developing world it’s a chance you take, I guess.
I am not going to think about that now: I have some very blue water that is waiting for me.