It was time for a break from the chilly mountain air. We decided to visit a beach resort on the south coast. We thought we could make it in one day, but we underestimated how long it takes to travel in Java by public transport. Each time we had to change buses or bemos, we had to wait for the new vehicle to fill up before leaving. Getting across two of the towns on the way required changing from one bus station to another with an obligatory bemo transfer. Soon late afternoon was turning into night. When we arrived one town short of our goal, it was already dark, and there were no more bemos for the beach. We could take a taxi, or ride on the back of a motorbike, but the drivers all quoted outrageous prices. We didn't want to let them take advantage of us, so we started flagging down cars asking if they were going our way. One car full of people stopped, but the driver said he was staying in town. He drove on, but then came right back and said he would take us. When we climbed into the car with his uncle and children, he invited us to stay at his place that night, assuring us that it was really no inconvenience. Tired and uncertain of finding something at the beach, we accepted his invitation. Our host was a sports teacher. His dark skin made him look African, not Indonesian. Next to his house he had built a park with fishing ponds that was a big success in the neighborhood, and he was building a children's pool there as well. As western guests we were the big hit, and it was clear that he was very pleased to be hosting us. He would go out of his way to say hello to the neighbors in order to show us off. He invited relatives over to meet us, then took us over to see his project and to meet more of his extended family, all of whom seemed to be absorbed in running the place. We were touched that a complete stranger would take us in, offer us the best room in the house and treat us so well.
We arrived at Watu Ulo beach the next day. It was a bit off the beaten track, popular with the locals but not with tourists. We rented a small bungalow and spent our time reading, swimming and walking around the monkey-infested hillsides behind the rocky headlands. Brightly-colored fishing boats tied up on the beach during the day. Trucks packed with baskets of small fish, loaded by weary fishermen, would leave every morning to return to town. At night we would comb the local warungs (food stalls) for grilled fish with rice and spicy peanut sauce. We didn't see a white tourist the entire time we were there.