DAY 143: From Labuanbajo to Maumere
I am now at Maumere, it has been a week or so what It has taken me to go from Labuanbajo to this city, a hell of a long trip by road, more than 25 hours by Indonesian mother fucking public bus, in some cases with 26 passengers when there should be 14 without counting the ones on the roof while the driver blasted his stereo equipment with the most horrible Indonesian karaoke songs ever…and this is a very mountaineous region, with a lot of turns…I have seen many people pucking on those last days my friends…
WE went from Labuanbajo to Ruteng, spend the night in this town, which I can’t talk to much about it as we just slept, and from here to Bajawa.
Bajawa is a town deep in the heart of flores, a mountainous area where temperatures remain cool and original aboriginal believes are blended with Catholicism, creating a very interesting combination, a kind of santeria…
When we arrived at Bajawa, we found a local guide that asked us if we wanted to join him and his family to a ceremony in one of those villages, and as this was a unique celebration (the last one of the same type on this village was 75 years ago) we couldn’t say no :).
So there we went with the family of the guide, actually, it was not a common touristic trip to a village, the guide was taking us as “part of his family” to this ceremony, which had been invited to the ceremony by his brother-in-law.
We first went from Bujawa to the house of his mother in another village, and after having some breakfast there and sacrificing a chicken and looking at his guts to see if everything was ok with the trip, we took a truck with another 20 family members and headed towards the village, which was around 3 hours away, up in the mountains in a horrible road…
I was feeling very uncomfortable at the wood bench in the truck (it was a simple truck with wood logs as benches, a metal roof and metallic bars at the sides ) so I decided to do the last hour standing on my feet at the back of the truck instead of with all the people sitting on the benches at the front.
THIS WAS A BAD IDEA.
Before I realized I was bumping my head with the metal top of the truck, as the roof was too low,struggling to hold my self against the lateral bars at the side of the truck and fighting with my legs against the huge ceremonial pig we were taking with us who was moving all around the back of the truck, screaming like a maniac as I think he realized that he was going to die at the place where we were taking him…
for 20 minutes I had this huge pig between my legs, and all I could think is the big fangs it had, while I kept struggling to keep my place and not break my head against the roof of the truck…then all of a sudden it started screaming again, moving around wildly, and while I was moving around the place trying to avoid the pig I saw this massive yellow shit coming out of it and covering all the floor of the truck….
this was what I needed to take the final decision of jumping out of the back of the truck, and hold myself at the rear of it with my too hands grabbing the roof and my two feet holding at the door…short of in the action movies…Imagine the picture: big old truck driving through a forgotten path in the middle of the mountains with me and two other guys holding ourselves at the back of the truck half our body above the roof, holding our hands to the roof, and standing with our feet over the back door…you really had to hold on strong to the roof, as there were moments the road was so bad and the truck bumped violently in every direction..,the only good thing I can think about this is the amazing landscape I was seeing, surrounded by nature in this really forgotten place where not to many “bule” (tourists) have ever set their feet on…Virgin land my friends!
When we arrived to the town, consisting of around 13 hay huts surrounding a square, and in the middle of this square 4 small totems built to adore their ancestors, to my surprise, I had to dress up in the traditional clothes of the tribe, with a handmade sarong wrapped around my legs as a skirt, and another long scarf covering my arms and my chest, both decorated with the tribe motives.
But my surprise didnt finished here. All the families coming to the event had to show their respect to the village dancing around the square and the ancestors…you should have seen me dancing around the village surrounded by mighty warriors, jumping up and down, trying to follow the rhythm and the pace…even though everybody was laughing their asses around me I did it very seriously and solemnly, with all my respects, and I tried to do it as best as possible…after a while somebody placed the traditional hat on my head and a couple of seconds later somebody placed this big machete in my hand, and all of a sudden it was not me anymore, but a mighty member of the Loka clan, showing my respects at the village of Pali, at the side of volcano Inerie holding high my sword and now no more kidding, and yes, sweating like crazy as the clothes where so thick and the sword so heavy…
Just after the second round around the square, already with the rhythm of the dance flowing through my veins I saw a couple of the dancers making me signs asking me to do something…and I did it: I put on my sword as high as possible, and from inside me bursted out a warcry that I guess didn’t shake the earth but made the people around me flip with the “Bule” that had arrived in the town…YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARHGG!!!
The ceremony lasted 2 days and 1 night, around 15-20 buffaloes where killed in the traditional way, this is cutting their throats in the middle of the square, and around 50 pigs where sacrificed as well…I havent eaten so much meat in my life, being also the first time I eat buffalo meat as well.
It is difficult to put in words all the intensity of this ceremony and all I have learned about this tribe, their traditions and their customs. It is also hard to express in words how well we were treated by this simple people that leave so far away from everything,we even stayed another night more and they were happy to keep us with them, offering Arak (local whine), a room,food, and like always their big smile.
after all this, I went to see the peak of sacred volcano Kalimutu, with its 3 lakes of changing colors which the local legends describe as pools of souls, when a local person dies, their soul flies over here and goes to one of the pools, depending on their ages and their deeds…at the time I was at the volcano there where 2 electric blue lakes (with a subtle difference in their tone) while the 3rd one was brown-black.
See you later!!! Sampae Jumpa Lagi!!!