We don’t have Billy Joel on the island, but music and guitars are just as much part of Pulau Pef as its natural wonders below and above the water. There’s not a day without music and singing here. Many of our employees are good guitar players and have a very nice voice. They are always making some kind of music – in front of their rooms after work or after dinner, on the transfer boat from Sorong to Pef and back, on staff trips or sometimes even on the dive boats. It seems like they were born with a guitar in their hands.
I was told guitars were among the first things they brought to the island when they started the construction of the resort. It was very important to them as almost every activity is accompanied by music or singing, be it during or after work.
Four times a week, our Pef band performs at our regular events, such as ‘Happy Sunset’ (cocktail and finger food at the bar) on Tuesdays, the goodbye party for departing guests on Thursdays and at our farewell and welcome ceremonies on Fridays and Saturdays. The band only features singers, guitar players and small drums, but when they are all together, it sounds beautiful.
Most of the songs are very romantic, talking about love and missing home. Some are also just local pop songs that they teach themselves from YouTube. I usually find the Pef version a lot better than the original. Many of the tunes are very similar, but I never seem to get tired of them. Unlike pop or rock music back home, that I quickly dislike after it’s been played up and down by the radios, I can listen to these songs over and over again. It just feels natural to have them here, and I always try to sing along – not an easy task in Indonesian or Papuan language…
There is one song they always sing that goes on for a very long time, because there is a part when they take turns to sing a solo. The bold ones usually start, so the first few rounds of solos are covered. But then, to get the shyer ones to sing, Maya usually goes and drags them to the front from their seat in the back. I sometimes feel a little sorry to see them standing so shyly in front of the other band members and all the guests, but I think they are actually doing fine. And some of them have lovely voices.
Since I got here, I have not listened much to the music I brought with me. And I don’t miss it. The joy of life that our band’s music conveys is fantastic. It makes me feel melancholy on the one hand, but very happy to be here on the other. I’m aware that other places probably have their music as well, we are not the only ones. But just listening to this music gives me a feeling of being part of this island, this resort and its team.
If I showed you a video of our band playing, you'd probably just think 'That's nice, but what's all the fuss about?'. You have to experience it here on the island to actually feel it. I can’t explain, just come and find out for yourself!
I never even dreamt of working on a remote island in Indonesia, but life has a way of taking care of itself…