Day 102, Year 3: Beautiful Kelimutu
Date: Hari Selasi (Tuesday), Bulan Agustus 19, Pada Tahan 2008
Weather: More Sunshine at Sea Level; Clouds in the Mountains
Location: Sea World Anchorage, Flores Island, Nusa Tengarra Province, Indonesia
The mountains of Flores are incredibly beautiful. At 5:15 am we left Sea World and started the 100 kilometer drive to Kelimutu. Scot Free II and Shirena went in one car and we were in another with Safina. You don’t drive yourself here; you hire a driver. The roads are paved but are not quite one and half lanes with bemos (minivans) and motorcycles flying past one another barely missing chickens, children, goats, and whatever else is along the road. It is a bit frightening and driving is definitely
best left to those who are used to this. Even with an experienced driver, it took three hours to reach the 5,000 foot summit of the volcano. At the top there are multiple craters, each with a different colored lake. It is spectacular. Tiwu Nuwa Muri Koo Fai, Turquoise Lake, is a truly an unreal shade of turquoise and according to local legend this is where the souls of young people go when they die. Next to Turquoise Lake is Brown Lake, Tiwi Ata Mbupu. This is where the souls of old people
go. And then separated from the other two craters is Tiwi Ata Polo or Black Lake. You’ve got it. This is where the souls of the wicked are sent. We had a crystal clear morning for viewing the lakes and spent more than an hour just looking at them. As we started the walk back to the car park, we saw the clouds start to roll in. Evidently this happens on most mornings, so you have to time your arrival at the top to beat the clouds. The clouds blocked the breathtaking views of mountain valleys
and the Flores Sea as we descended but we had certainly enjoyed those on the way up. Lush green rice paddies look like a huge patchwork quilt draping its way up through the mountains. The rice paddies are in all stages of development so the little rectangles cover the range of hues of green. There are oxen, goats, and horses grazing by the roadside and people working in the fields. Then you wind through rain forest and mountain valleys filled with macadamia trees, bamboo, and a type of palm I
had never seen before.
After we descended to sea level we stopped on the south side of the island for lunch and then headed to the village of Sikka. This seaside village is known as the home of the oldest church in Flores and for its ikat weaving. Unlike the rest of Indonesia, the population of Flores is 95 per cent Catholic due to the long stronghold by the Portuguese. According to the Lonely Planet, Sikka was one of the first Portuguese settlements in Flores and the church there was built in 1889. We stopped at the
church and walked through the gates. We went into the church and then the padre (again, the Portuguese influence) came to meet us. The church walls were concrete and the vaulted ceiling was constructed of wood. There was an open-air space between the walls and ceiling so the sound of the pounding surf could be heard inside the church. It was very simple but quite serene. We walked out of the gates expected to have to search for where the women were weaving, but instead we were met by an army
of women who had set up an instant ikat weaving shopping mall. At first these ladies just pointed to their weavings, but the minute one of us would start looking at a piece, ten or fifteen other women would start crowding in with their best weaving. It was a bit overwhelming, but I did find one piece I wanted to buy. The women on Flores dress differently than other places we have visited in Indonesia. They take their woven cloth and sew it up so it forms a cylinder. You then step into the cylinder
of cloth and pull it up around you. You wear a blouse and place the top of the material over one shoulder and hold it in place with your elbow. You form a sort of sling on one side and the material drapes at the waist on the other. In your sling, you can carry a baby, vegetables, or a live chicken. I saw all of those yesterday. Or when the clouds roll in and it gets a bit chilly, you pull the cylinder up to your neck to keep warm. One size fits all and it is one of these cylinders of ikat woven
cloth that I bought. Mark got in the car empty-handed, but then had to get back out and go buy a scarf from a women who had begged him to buy from her to help pay for her child’s education. Of course, he was then surrounded by women and Gerry from Scot Free got into the bargaining mode. Mark escaped with his scarf and our car got away leaving Gerry surrounded by the “entrepreneurial” women.
When we returned to Sea World we all went over to the Sail Indonesia center and had a beer. Oskan, the young man (actually he is 43) from Turkey came over and we had a great political conversation about the current state of affairs in his homeland. He should work for the Chamber of Commerce as he is most influential in enticing you to visit his homeland. We had a quiet dinner on Windbird and had a delightful surprise. Our cell phone rang and it was Heather. Justin tried to call a week ago, but
there was no cell service where we were at the time. But in this location, the connection is great. It was early morning and although Sam loves to play with phones, he only listens. But we could hear him jabbering away in the background and Heather was able to tell us all about her three-day walk. She enjoyed the experience and Sam actually seems to have gained a bit of independence as a result of her temporary absence.
Tomorrow is the opening of the Sail Indonesia rally here on Flores and the next day we will leave here to start the trek to the Komodos.
|080819 Day 102a Flores, Indonesia–Kelimutu|
|080819 Day 102b Flores, Indonesia–Sikka Village|