Thursday 26th April Bajawa
I started the day with a breakfast in the living room downstairs. An ojek guide with some cool rasta called Marselino came to seat with me and offered me to take me around Bajawa and the traditional villages for the day. Half-hour later, we were on the road. We started the day by going to Bumukita, a traditional health centre 3km from Bajawa. I was a bit disappointed though, as there was not much to see there. If I had gone for some acupuncture, maybe it would have been worth but I didn’t feel like it. After that, we went to the top of a hill to see an old volcano crater called Wolobobo. Here is Marselino and the crater in the background.
We took the road again, going to Luba. Here is one of the turns we took. There was some bamboo forest on its right.
Just before the village were some vanilla trees. Here is some vanilla.
There were also some coffee plants. Marselino showed me how to take the red beans, take the skin out which reveals 2 coffee grains, and chew them gently, actually just absorbing the sweet green around them.
Here is a palm tree with palm fruits hanging and some wood branch below in a curved shape. Indonesian use this wood branch to make arak. They chop it until it becomes soft and smooth, and then twist it to extract some white liquid. This liquid is carried on a half-cut bamboo pipe. The liquid is boiled and the alcohol gaz goes in a tube to be distilled. The liquid that exists on the other hand is the future arak.
We arrived in Luba, one of the traditional Ngada villages. It started raining and we found shelter under the roof of the house of an old lady living alone called Anastasia, or Anas. Here is the view from there. These traditional villages are really different from anything I saw so far. The way they are built is full of small details and all symbols have meanings. You can see how the houses are spread all around the main ground. The dead are buried in the middle and this ground is covering their bodies. In the centre, you can also see 4 umbrella-like poles and 3 small huts.
The umbrella-like pole is called “ngadhu”. Each embodies the male ancestor of a clan. As there are 4 here, we know that there are 4 clans who have a male ancestor. The ngadhu symbolises fierciness and virility.The small hut is called “bhaga”. It embodies a female ancestor of a clan. It symbolises the sanctuary of the house and the female body.
When looking at the roofs, we can notice some which have a little house on top, and some which have a little figure. The one with a little house informs that the house is the one of a linea of a female ancestor, while the one with a little figure informs that it is the one of a male ancestor.
Outside the house of the old lady was some carving, found also outside of any other house.
The boat symbolises the origins of the first inhabitants who came from the sea.
The horse is a symbol of protection and power.
The house on the right was holding at the entrance some horns of buffalos.
Marselino explained me that these were the horns of buffalos that had been sacrificed for ceremonies, and were hold there to remember the ceremonies.
As the rain continued to fall, we stayed a bit longer, Anastasia brought us a huge avocado with some lemon and salt that we shared and was our lunch.
Anastasia showed me her kitchen in which was the first page of an article pinned to the wall written in a French for a travel magazine I couldn’t identify, maybe National Geographic, or Geo, or Grands Reportages in which a picture of her appeared! Win a postcard if you find out!
Anastasia stayed there sitting with her cat, while we took the road again to the nearby village of Bena.
Bena was another traditional Ngada village with the same structure but a bit bigger.
I saw some megaliths there that I had not seen in Luba. They are a means to connect with the supernatural realm and to communicate with the ancestors, often by animal sacrifices.
I walked around and there were more people going on with their daily activities right outside their houses as in the previous village. I saw an old lady making some basket.
Another one was making some ikat which means the local textile such as scarves, sarongs, blankets etc.
An old lady and her grand-daugther were sorting out betel nuts and crushing them in smaller pieces.
Here is a view of the village from the other side. You can see in the middle the ngadhus and baghas.
Three little girls appeared round the corner of a house. They were really pretty.
I went back to the entrance, and gave a donation as in the previous village. It was already 4pm so we ate some noodles from the local store there with Marselino while little girls were playing abalone nearby.
2 kids who knew Marselino well came to sit in front of us in the grass and chat with him.
We left Bena to go back to Bajawa. I had wanted to see also Gurusina originally, another traditional village but I was exhausted by the day and preferred to stop here. We had a great view of the Mount Inerie on our way back.
Tomorrow, going to Moni!