Day 90, Year 3: Dorothy, This Is Not Kansas
Date: Hari Kamis (Thursday), Bulan Agustus 7, Pada Tahan 2008
Weather: Perpetual Sunshine with No Clouds
Location: Kalabahi, Alor Island, Nusa Tengarra Province, Indonesia

Once again we were given a welcome fit for royalty. We went ashore this morning at 9 am following a long boat which picked up the first Sail Indonesia cruiser to arrive here to be our leader. We were met by drumming and gamelan music and lots of dancers dressed in traditional ikat woven sarongs and scarves. The official greeting was made by the head of tourism and then we were treated to traditional song and dance provided by the elementary children. They danced beautifully and the music was great. We were all provided with a boxed breakfast of local pastries and water and were all given an ikat woven scarf. A young woman who is serving as one of our guides asked us if we would do a greeting like this in our country. We had to reply that we have no “traditional” dance that would be performed. I guess this is what happens when you are a melting pot, but it did make me wonder what kind of greeting we would give to world cruisers arriving in the US.

This afternoon we all hopped on a local bus and went to a special market place set up for this Alor festival. The event was called Friendship Shopping and every little village and surrounding island had a booth there. It was sort of like a science fair. We went from booth to booth learning about the arts and crafts of various villages and islands. There were some things for sale but it was mostly an information fair. Mark was particularly curious about some of the traditional tools. There were things hanging on the walls of one of the booths that looked a little like a bow with no arrows. It was actually a mouse trap and of course, Mark had to set it off and then have them reset it so he could see how it worked. In the next booth, there was a similar contraption, but instead of mouse trap that kills the mouse, it was a trap to catch the mouse. It was a traditional Indonesian Hav-a-Heart trap. I couldn’t believe it. We learned all about the seaweed industry they have here where they build special shelters on the water to encourage the growth of seaweed that is then dried and marketed. We had a sweet bread made of ground seaweed and it was very good. And then there were the weaving demonstrations. The ikat weaving is very intricate and fascinating to watch. I bought a few beautifully woven baskets, a wonderful tray made of bamboo, and a couple of wooden writing pens . . . all for a total of $10US. We are told we should bargain, but the prices on some of these things are so low it seems a sin to offer less. Mark and I decided to walk back to the harbor. Walking through the local neighborhoods is always one of our favorite things to do. The children here yell “Mister” as we pass, and some little ones have learned to ask, “How are you?” We actually walked past the turn to the harbor and found ourselves in a Muslim neighborhood of very friendly people. No one could speak English, but one young man knew we were lost before we did. He helped give us directions back to the harbor and sent an older man along with us just in case we might get lost again. We love getting “lost” in places like this. This is when we have some of our best experiences. But after today’s walk, all I could think is, “Dorothy, this is not Kansas.”

We will be going back to shore this evening for a welcome dinner. The graciousness of these people just never ends. Tomorrow we are going on a tour that will take us to the local museum, the traditional village of Takpala, to a beach, and then to a memorial forest. We had thought of trying to do this on our own without going with the organized tour, but in the end that just proved to be too difficult. The language issues do make striking out on your own problematic.

080807 Day 90 Alor, Indonesia–Gala Dinner in Kalabahi
080807 Day 90 Alor, Indonesia–Friendship Shopping
080807 Day 90 Alor, Indonesia–Welcome to Kalabahi