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Flores Away from Mass Tourism – Part 2

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Bajawa: Our visit to traditional villages

We leave the dusty Ruteng behind us and drive to the even dustier Bajawa. From here we want to find a guide for a hike to the traditional villages. Unfortunately, the official tourist office is closed because the local employee has quit his job. Thus, the search for a suitable guide is, of course, a little more difficult. But after a short contact with the tourist information centre in Labuan Bajo we get a contact in our hands.

Later in the evening, we arrange to meet the suggested guide Arnold in the village pub. With a beer, he introduces us to a hike and his program: the Adat Trail. This two-day tour leads us over stick and stone through the jungle to numerous traditional villages and is supposed to bring us closer to the simple life of the original inhabitants of Flores. Without further ado, we decide to set off the next morning. The experience would be worth a separate report… So in the next two days, we will have to permanently break out of our comfort zone and get to know a completely new way of life

The hike begins. Soon we turn our backs on the paved road and enter the thicket. Our guide introduces us to the flora, fauna, and customs of the inhabitants. After a few minutes, we reach the first village. A strong smell strikes us. It turns out that the day before the inauguration of a new house was celebrated. Many animals like pigs and buffalos are sacrificed. When we then see the dried out blood in the ground, we know what we have smelled before from a distance. We are proudly shown the remains, the heads of some buffalos, under a plastic sheet.

Shortly afterwards we are waved to his bamboo hut by the village elder with an inviting gesture. Our guide tells us to accept the invitation. Shortly afterwards we sit on the ground in his bamboo hut and drink the offered Arak as a courtesy – a very voluminous schnapps. With our bare hands, we eat rice with cold buffalo meat from the day before. Our presence attracts the curiosity of the children in the village and soon we are being examined by numerous big children’s eyes. An unfamiliar situation regardless of the early hours.

The hike continues. Amazing, which plants grow here in the jungle. To be honest, we have to admit that we would have discovered almost none of these plants without our guide.

In the coming hours, we will visit more villages. We play ball with the happy children, slurp freshly picked coconuts with homemade straws, cut pineapples into slices with the machete and meet beggar-nut chewing women with deep red teeth. Between all these events we learn interesting facts about the people and their social form. The people we met were all very hospitable and always welcomed us with open arms.

Late in the evening, we reach the village of Tololea, where we spend the night with another very hospitable family. The day ends as it began. We sit drinking Arak and eating with our hands on the ground in a circle. We are amazed at what is served up to us and how good everything tastes. Remember that everything is cooked on an open fire. We enjoy the community feeling and feel the sincere hospitality of the people. They have little but they would have given us everything. An eventful day comes to an end, which chisels itself into our memory.

Photo and article by Pascal Ruettimann and Martina Krienbuehl, www.500daysofsummer.ch​ 

For information on details including packages descriptions and bookings, please contact:

Flores DMO Office

Jl. Bhakti No. 1, Ende, Flores

Telephone number +62 381 23141

Email: florestourismweb@gmail.com

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