Day 85, Year 3: Day Trip Inland To Traditional Villages
Date: Hari Sabtu (Saturday), Bulan Agustus 2, Pada Tahan 2008
Weather: Still Sunny and Windy
Location: Kupang, W Timor, Indonesia

Today’s trip took us inland about halfway from Kupang to the East Timor border, and then we headed through the mountains on the southern coast to two wonderful traditional villages. This trip was free for all Sail Indonesia participants, so by 7:30 am many of us piled into the waiting bemos and took off with police escort. We first visited a village called None (no-nay) where we were greeted by villagers wearing their traditional clothing of ikat woven cloth. This is a heavy cloth made from locally grown cotton and died with natural dies. The patterns are intricate and the colors are fantastic. The men and women both wear a huge sarong wrapped around them as a long skirt. Narrow pieces of cloth are worn over the shoulder (shawls) and another narrow piece is worn by the men wrapped around their heads. Timorese people are petite and graceful and their music and dancing are mesmerizing. We were formally greeted and a representative of each country was asked to step forward and receive a scarf (the narrow woven piece) as a token of friendship and welcome. We then watched the dancing and when that ended, we walked to an area where the women were carding and hand spinning the cotton, and where others were doing the weaving. It was fascinating to watch. Most of the women were young and had their babies and toddlers sitting in their laps or at their feet watching them work. There were woven pieces for sale and we couldn’t resist buying a couple of the scarves.

With one comfort stop for more than a hundred people, the first stop was about four and half hours out of Kupang. After our stop at None, we traveled another hour on VERY a very steep mountain road with unbelievable hairpin turns going up and down and up and down. The views were phenomenal but it was a harrowing ride. Along the way there were traditional homes perched on ledges with million dollar views and almost everyone living along the road was out to greet us. The children waved and when we waved back they squealed with delight. There were at least ten bemos flying past them and for them it was a parade. The last twelve kilometers of road were unpaved and very rocky. The conditions got even steeper and we truly wondered if we would ever be able to climb out way back out. But when we arrived in Boti, we forgot about all the travel travails and enjoyed the welcoming villagers. The kepala suku (chief) is called Benu and when he took over as leader from his father in 2005 he vowed to keep his villagers following the laws of adat (animist beliefs). We were once again welcomed, but this time every visitor was presented with a scarf or shawl. Boti is one the only places left in Timor where men let their hair grow long, but his only happens after they are married. We witnessed a hair cutting ceremony today where a beautiful little two year-old boy’s head was shaved and a pig was then sacrificed in his honor. There were blessing bestowed upon us by the chief or rajah and then we were led through the village to his home where a luncheon feast awaited us. Before we left, there were ceremonies to bless our journey home and then we headed back to Kupang. We had a comfort stop in Soe (Sew-ay) on the way home where were treated to a boxed snack and there was one last stop in a town called Batubuti. Traffic was stopped while we witnessed more blessings as we were exiting the Soe province of West Timor. There was dancing and gamelon music and then back to the bus for another boxed treat which was dinner. It was almost 10 pm when we got back to Sail Indonesia headquarters. We were tired but our heads and hearts were filled with wonderful memories. And we thank the government of West Timor for today’s wonderful treat.

Tomorrow we go on a paid tour back out the same road to Soe, but this time we will only have to travel an hour to reach our destination of Oebelo. Here we will visit a workshop were sasandos are made by Pak Pah and his family. These are 20-stringed instruments originating from the island of Rote, just across the pass from Kupang.

080802 Day 85 W Timor, Indonesia–None and Boti Villages
Day 86, Year 3: Sasandos and the Welcome of All Welcomes
Day 84, Year 3: Crumbling, Bustling Kupang