Going through the hilly island of Flores

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We leave Ankemi behind after a couple of days of diving and we start our journey across the island of Flores. We intend to go across the island to Labuan Bajo at the western end of the island. The distance isn’t great but the roads are in a pretty bad condition and we are going through a very mountainous area with many ups and downs so the drive across the island will take a while – even if you just drive. We don’t want to go straight but want to enjoy and take in some of the attractions along the road.

The island of Flores is fairly small compared to other Indonesian islands. But the mountains have limited contact between people living at the different parts of the island. So there is a very diverse culture on the island and apparently the 1.8 million inhabitants speak 6 different languages and they do not understand the other local languages so the common way to communicated is to use the common all Indonesia language of Bahasa Indonesia.

The isolation meant the coast is dominated by Muslim of Malay decent while the interior of the island is dominated by local cultures. Not far from Maumere we get to a small town which is in a solid Christian neighborhood – there are many Christian communities on the island as well actually the Christian probably live in the largest part of the island while the Muslims live in the bigger cities on the coast. There is an old church we are visiting and having a quick look at the area before we continue the drive.

We drive through the interesting landscape and look at the houses along the road. It seems like the locals like to bury their relatives in the ground right outside their family house. I guess they can make their mark on the ground and stay close to the generations coming before them. When we drive along the road we see many graves in front of the houses. Some places it seems like every house has at least one grave out in front garden.

We finally arrive in the small town of Moni where we will stay for the night. There are not much to see when we around the town – it is really small so we can walk to the end of the town where there is a bit of a view of the mountains. When we walk to the other end there is a big market and a bit of a village on the side of the road which is fun to have a little look at before we go back to the hotel.

At the hotel we manage to book tickets to a dance performance for this evening after dinner. It seemed like there were no public performances going on but we could go and have a private dance performance for about $18 for the two of us. We walk to the village at night and ask for the dance performance at a house. It turns out the people doing the dancing isn’t really ready yet – they probably have been having dinner and now need to change before they can do the dancing. So we need to hang out in a house of the local school teacher. The house is very sparsely decorated with a dirt floor with the limited furniture on top of the dirt. They do have a television which is prominently put at a desk in the corner of the room. I guess the wage for the local school teacher in this part of the world is really low when people with an education live like this. We wait for about half an hour before the people are ready and there is a sound of drums from outside.

We go out and right there on a little square in the center of the village they have places two plastic chairs in the middle which we can sit on and have the front row seat to the dance performance. They do dance and sing traditional songs from the region which they do explain a bit of the story line since we don’t understand any of the singing which is in the local language of the village.

House with grave at night

We might be the only paying audience but all the kids come out to see the show – so they are hanging out on the porches of the houses around us watching the show. For such a small village it is a pretty big show they put on with 6 women singing and a group of male dancers and some musicians as well. I guess there are a total of almost 20 people involved in the show just for us so we feel privilege to be able to enjoy this show which isn’t as professional as a show on Bali but it has a much more authentic feeling about it.

The show takes about an hour and we head back to the hotel which is only a few minutes’ walk away.

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