Fabulous Flores Island Part 4 (Riung to Moni)

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.

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We were always so glad to have Alvin to translate. Sometimes from Bahasa Indonesia, but often from his local Manggarai language.
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Husking then splitting open the coconuts is harder work than it looks. And this guy was working through a HUGE pile.

I think the most time consuming task though was scraping out the “copra” (coconut meal) from the shells.

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You can see the copra on the rack above the fire. Conveniently, you can use the dried husks and shells to power the fire!

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.

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These three little girls lived at a little house with a fantastic view over the south coast that we stopped at for morning coffee. They REALLY weren't sure what to make of Yvonne and Kaia who tried to teach them "Head and Shoulders Knees and Toes"
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But when the lesson stopped they regained their lovely composure.
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Tonggo beach on the south coast just west of Ende is well known for its fantastic coloured rounded stones. This was mid day and really really hot ... we had to sprint across the black sand to avoid burning our feet.
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So popular are these stones that there is a business collecting them, sorting into the various colours then carting them up to the road to sell by the pile full.

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.

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The chief was so engaging and friendly ... we're so sorry we can't recall his name

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.

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The flat stones are actually burial markers. Families like to stay "connected" to their ancestors.
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Yes, these are what you're thinking they are. Young breasts carved into the outside wall just beside the main door. They remind all to the nurturing young mother.
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On the other side of the door ... we are reminded to NEVER forget our older mothers 🙂

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.

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old and new ... you can't help but wonder where things will settle a few decades out.
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This is the view from the village. Impressively, the villagers have their gardens way up in these mountains and take an hour or more to get to and from. If we'd had more sunlight left in the day we'd have hiked in to swim at those waterfalls.
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These stone stairs are exactly the same as the "Inka" steps we loved from Peru.
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Our village visit was cut short by a sudden downpour that got us running to the car, but our host sorted out some umbrellas for us pretty quick.

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.

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My family says I overdue the rice terrace photos ... but I just can't help myself. This sight as we drove off into the mountains from Saga.

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. 

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Jenny's hostel "Estevania"

To bed early to be ready for our 3:30 AM wake-up.

Cam

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