Tuesday 1st May 2012 Moni to Maumere
In the morning, Achim left quite early with a bemo (minibus) to Ende to catch a plane there to Bali. He was going there to meet his girlfriend. In Germany, he had filled a random card game at the big Divers Event of Germany taking place each year, and won a week of diving for two in Champasak, a divers’ paradise! He was now going there with her, and then continue travelling in Indonesia.
With Michael, we left a bit later with a shared taxi to Maumere. The landscape on the way to there was gorgeous as usual, with a dense vegetation on the surrounding volcanic hills.
It took about 3 hours to get there. We left our bags in an hotel and then went for some lunch on the seafront. Here was our view from the restaurant:
There, I tried for the first time the papaya flower salad, but didn’t enjoy it that much, as it was really bitter.
After lunch, we walked in the market a bit. It had the prettiest little stalls market I had seen so far, each of them having all the products presented in a perfect order.
We saw two of the ingredients used to chew betel nut. I can’t remember their names or how they are used though.
There was a man going around with his cart and little girl in it, picking up cardboard. Maybe an etjai of Indonesia, collecting recyclable garbage to bring back to a collection center and sell it.
In the wonderful Flores guidebook made by Swisscontact, we had read about a 3-day trek we could do in Deturia, starting from Maumere. We called the contact listed in the book, Pak Ignas. Pak means “Mister, Sir” and is commonly used in front of a first name in this region. In the evening, he came to pick us up at the hotel and took us to his little office room just outside his house. We discussed that trek and agreed on a start point 2 days later, and booked later the flight Maumere to Bali for the Monday 7th May at 9am.
Wednesday 2nd May 2012 Maumere
I had decided to stay longer in Indonesia, so I went in the morning to the immigration office of Maumere with Pak Benis, who was running the hotel where we were staying, to give my passeport for a one month visa extension. They said that it should be ready the Friday afternoon, but that they couldn’t guarantee it as their protected internet system was down that day. We agreed that Pak Beni would pick it up for me.
Nothing much interesting to say about the rest of the day. I did some laundry, wrote some articles for the blog, went a bit to the internet café as there was no wifi around. We went out for some food, and also enjoyed buying Magnum and chocolate in the air conditioned supermarket! And for the rest, we mostly chilled out. That was it! I still had sore legs from my too steep too fast first day walk in Kelimutu for a not-that-intense-sportive-neither-trained girl I am so I was glad to start the trek only the day after! We were happy to hear from Pak Ignas that our guide would be Pak Goris, the head of the Deturia village himself! It couldn’t be better!
Thursday 3rd May 2012 Maumere to Deturia
Pak Ignas picked us up at the hotel at 6am. It took about 2 hours to drive to the junction going to the little village of Pise. The landscape going that direction was gorgeous.
There were also some mangrove in the sea on our right.
At some point on the road, Pak Ignas was driving quite fast, some children were coming back from school, and a dog was playing with them, and not looking at us. The accident took place in a matter of seconds, so fast we couldn’t see it coming. The dog hit the left front of the car straight under my eyes. That was horrible. I thought we had killed him, and couldn’t help hiding my eyes in my hands. Fortunately, somehow, the dog walked straight to the side, and ran away, told me Pak Ignas and Michael. Pfiou. The previous summer, while I was still living in London, I was waiting for a bus and had seen suddenly a stupid pigeon crossing a road and getting completely flattened under the wheels of a double-cab bus. Beeeeee. Luckily that had been all my experience of animals getting killed on the road and I was happy not to have more and that that dog survived. Not the best way of starting a trek…
We took a corrugated road at a junction, to go to Pise, and it was a really bumpy road, and quite scary with the cliff on the right. Although it was a good car, it was not the top 4-wheel drive high clearance Toyota or Landrover needed for that kind of road. At some point, we had to stop the car, in order to put some stones near a hole, for the car to drive on them to pass it. That hole was really huge.
However, when trying to start the car again, it didn’t work anymore. The battery or something was flat. We tried to push it, and Pak Ignas to turn around but the space there was quite short. It was 8am, and Pak Ignas called Pak Goris and asked him to come pick us up at this point, and called his driver to ask him to come help him. Pak Goris arrived and we started walking to Pise, him taking our bags on his motorbike. We left Pak Ignas there, hoping he would get some help and out of this mess quickly.
We arrived in Pise around 9am and were welcomed by the villagers and also the father of Goris, Simon, who is one of the wise elder man of the village, advising his son on the best decisions to take. On top of that…we realised he was the man on the cover of the Swisscontact guidebook! How cool to meet him in person!
Goris offered us some local coffee, mixed with some ginger, and tasting really good, as well as some fried rice (nasi goreng) for breakfast. He also opened some coconuts to give us some fresh coconut water. We sat on some chairs during that time, surrounded by more and more villagers, curious to see who these two tourists were.
We started the walk with Pak Goris and his father, as well as Ardus, the nephew of Goris who was 14 years old and going to Deturia for the first time, happy to practice his English and join his uncle. He carried my bag, which was really cool. Can’t say no! Puni, the wife of Goris joined us too, carrying a plastic bag in which she had put a very cute little dog she was bringing as a present to her kids.
The trek was quite flat or gently steep for most of the time, which was nice for me. The view on the surroundings was astonishing as always on Flores, but with that difference that this time we were not in a fast-speeding bemo, but walking, which made it more enjoyable, and gave us the possibility to stop and contemplate it more, and take also more pictures.
We passed some buffalos at some point. Those animals are massive and have huge horns, but they are actually really shy animals, afraid as soon as you approach too close!
Here is Pak Goris and his father.
It took us about 3-4 hours walk to arrive to Deturia. Short before getting there, the kids came to walk the last hundreds meters with us.
When we entered, we were welcomed by the entire village, and a few musicians playing some djumbe and flute, as well as a few women dressed traditionally singing.
One of the women, the wife of the second important man just after the chief of the village, came to me and passed a scarf around my neck to welcome me and gave me a hug. After that, we put our bag in a room at the empty hospital still getting built and had some rest and tea at the house of Pak Goris.
Then we were ready to walk down to the lake of Tiwu Sora. But before to go, we also had to abide by a small ceremony to purify us before to get there. Tiwu Sora is a holy lake where giant eels are living. People there believe that when they die, their soul goes to the lake and reincarnates in one of the eels. These eels are therefore believed to be the spirits of the deceased, and no one is fishing them, and anyone going there for the first time needs to be purified before to get there.
John, the second man of the village, put a necklace of plants around our neck, but also around the one of Ardus, as it was the first time he was going there too. We walked down for about an hour, with almost all kids of the village joining us, chatting and singing happily all the way. It was a beautiful quiet dark blue/black lake.
We threw in the lake our necklace, and stayed there, contemplating it, then walked back up to the village, passing through crops of corn, wheat, cucumbers and melons. Some of the older kids were bringing back wood and a few vegetables.
We chilled out there a bit. There was this really cute little boy Enrico, 5 years old, one of the children of Pak Goris, enjoying climbing the shoulders of his grandfather Simon that he loved tenderly, and maybe one day the future head of the village, who knows? Unless everything changes and he was to decide to go away and leave it.
The shadows were getting longer.
It was now 17:25, time to go see the sunset. The sun was colouring the sky with gold, but was soon going to disappear in the clouds, earlier than a proper sunset, crazy sun here, never doing his job properly, pffff.
The golden light was wrapping the faces, and giving them this beautiful warm touch that only the last rays of the day can give. The temperature was dropping, and a few children were wrapping themselves in some traditionally made blankets (part of the local “ikat”, textile).
25 minutes later only, same picture of this little house on the hill, but this time completely disappearing in the fog! So fast!
Pak Goris made a fire just outside of the empty building of a future hospital, where we were going to spend the night, and people gathered around, mostly kids.
He had seen me pick up some plastic on the way and we had talked about it a bit, and he talked for long to the kids that evening around the fire. He explained me later that he was trying to raise their awareness about plastic and explain them how important it was not to throw it away around. It was great to see a head of a village being conscience of this in Asia, where people still throw plastic around carelessly. Would he manage to really educate everyone about it? After all, it took us a long time too in Europe before to understand the disastrous damages plastic causes.
In the evening, Michael joined a few men and the women in the kitchen, where they were preparing some good meal, cooking as traditionally in pots on firewood.
I enjoyed from the doorstep, without being able to get myself to sit there, in this atmosphere certainly full of laughs but also entirely full of smoke, where men were smoking kretek after kretek (local self-made cigarette)!
I navigated between the kitchen and the living room, where the kids were glued to the television!
The dinner was ready, and here was the table around which we sat to enjoy this special meal, prepared in honour of our arrival. The wood bowls/plates on the table here are symbolic and given to guests as special plates to welcome them!
After diner, we walked back to the empty building of the future hospital. The stars above us were truly amazing, sparkling intensively and a few shooting stars passing by sometimes. I enjoyed contemplating the Scorpion constellation drawn in the sky here with such an intensity that it steals the show from all the other constellations.
I found that image on this website where you have other constellations described. Very good website, check it out if interested in stars!
In Europe, it is not an easy constellation to see, as you may not see it at all, or only half of it in Summer, while in Asia, it appears just above the horizon at twilight, facing Orion, its rival in beauty, and my favourite one. I really really love those 3 aligned stars in the middle!
While Orion disappears quite quickly, the Scorpion conquers the sky slowly, and is right above you a few hours later, with the close Southern Cross starting to fade away too here. It is the constellation on the Australian flag.
We slept in our hospital beds, which made Michael laugh a lot as it is quite uncommon indeed to be sleeping in a deserted hospital when you are in good health!
Tomorrow, walking to the village of Detunaka and to the Murusobe waterfalls!