I don't want to think too much about the journey south. From the Togian Islands to Ampana to Poso to Tentena to Pendolo to Rantepao, this mammoth three-day journey on painful buses, crowded boats and sore feet was only made bearable by a friendship struck up on the Togian ferry; Rose, a solo traveller from New York state, was on my wavelength, going my way and would prove an amiable companion until we were rudely parted after a couple of weeks... but that's another story. For now we're bouncing through central Sulawesi, Rose full of stories about her eight-month trip through Southeast Asia, and me full of dread at having to repeat the awful stretch of road that Peter and I had put up with when heading north to Tentena for the first time.
Salvation, though, came in the form of the Lake Poso ferry. The worst stretch of road – between Tentena and Pendolo – skirts the shores of Lake Poso, a huge freshwater soak in the middle of Sulawesi, and where there's a lake, there's a boat. We arrived in Tentena to find that the boat was leaving that evening, and would arrive in Pendolo to meet a night bus heading to Rantepao, our ultimate destination. This gave us a day to kill in Tentena, which we filled by lounging about in a forest-clad waterfall called Saluopa, some 20km west of Tentena in the general direction of Lore Lindu.
I should have revelled in the cool waters more, because the next twelve hours were typically awful. The waters of Lake Poso splashed over the sides of the crowded ferry onto our legs; the restaurant where the bus was due to arrive was a good half-an-hour's hard walk from the ferry terminal; the night bus didn't turn up until 1am (so we slept on the floor of the restaurant, without anyone seeming to mind); and the seats we managed to squeeze into for the journey proved inadequate as seats, let alone beds. Our arrival in Rantepao on Saturday morning was fairly ethereal as sleep deprivation washed away any good intentions about leaping into the culture straight away, but at least we'd made it in one piece.