We left Riung heading east along the north coast. After driving through some coconut plantations we came across a very industrious family in the midst of production.
I think the most time consuming task though was scraping out the “copra” (coconut meal) from the shells.
Ultimately it is refreshing to know that coconut economics (at least in this part of the world) are such that you can still make money doing this all by hand in your backyard.
Our journey then took us back up into the mountains as we made our way back towards the south coast.
Soon after our swim we arrived at the island’s 2nd biggest city – Ende – where we had a late lunch amid the hustle/bustle. Ende is a port gateway to Indonesian West Timor and now independent East Timor island to the south. From Ende the route (I say “the” route because there is really only one real road east to west across the island) climbs back up into the mountains. Our afternoon destination was the partially traditional village of Saga. The young village chief spent a few hours with us explaining some traditions and transitions the village is going through. His father had died just months before so he was trying very hard to learn his new role.
Saga in a sense is living between the modern and traditional worlds. The striking traditional homes high up on hill are mirrored with more modern homes below, and families spend their time in both parts.
It seems that the village is actually rediscovering its traditions of recent. Some families have moved back to the village. Folks who’d moved out from the village come back for many of the traditional ceremonies (which incidentally also involve animal sacrifices to the ancestors). A very popular Indonesian show that highlights a different culture each week had just finished several weeks of filming there and our guide/chief was of course a main character. He had a gotten a real charge out of the experience.
As had become common practice, he invited us back to his house for coffee before we departed. We immediately noted the small Canadian flag imbedded in his door – left behind by a visitor that ended up sticking around for a few months.
We arrived in the town of Moni just as the sun set. Moni is the base for exploring the iconic Kelimutu mountain that I’ll feature in the next and final Flores island entry. The tradition is to stand mountain top for the sunrise, so Moni is the nearest village. It was low tourist season so we didn’t complain that the guest house proprietors were courting us with deals. We ended up at Jenny’s lovely place – a room typically sets us back about $30 – we get a largish room but usually end up with either Kaia or Jake on the floor on a thermarest.
To bed early to be ready for our 3:30 AM wake-up.