Big Volcanoes!!! and weird lakes :D

Trip Start Sep 30, 2005
Trip End Sep 29, 2006

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Flag of Indonesia  ,
Saturday, July 1, 2006

Flores really has one big hitter on the travel scene! Its Kelimutu, the volcano that blew its top then formed 3 weird coloured lakes in the craters. These lakes have changed colour over the years but today they are turquoise green, black and chocolate brown ! To trek up to the lakes (or get a motorbike to drive you there if your lazy we are!)you need to stay in a pretty little village called Moni overnight. The people are 'forest people' by their own definition and live a very simple life. There are a few homestays and cafe's to keep the travelers happy. Since the last round of bombings in Bali, tourism in the whole of Indonesia has fallen drastically. The people here depend on tourist dollars and are suffering significantly at the mo.In moni there are at least 15 homestays, but we counted only 8 travellers while we were there. They try desperatly to get you to go to their house, but you cant stay at them all. For the first time in this trip we felt guilty about not being able to give our money to everyone. This caused a little tension between us because Adam wanted to stay with one family and I wanted to stay with another.But in the end, we chose the most comfortable room with the nicest bathroom, the family that I wanted to stay with. This caused Adam some guilt. There is no other employment in the area. Only farming.
We got the bike up to the lakes at 5am. The best views are in the early morning before the clouds roll in. Watching the sun rise as we travelled up the mountain was beautiful.You can see noithing but trees,little villages and the mountains in the distance. When we got to the top it was a little cloudy but within an hour the cloud lifted and we could see the colours of the lakes and the scenery around. You have to be there to appreciate how weird these colours are. Its just unnatural! The green lake is the most spectacular! It almost look luminescent, with yellow streaks through the surface. The 'scientists' think the colours are caused by minerals disolved in the water but they arent sure. It was bloody cold up there at 6am! We took our blankets from the homestay to keep us warm. Without doubt one of the most beautiful places Ive seen. Stunning!
It was only lunchtime by the time we got back to the village...we walked back, about 7km, steep down! This is hard going on the old thighs! :( We stopped at a village on the way, when a lovely woman asked us to join her for oranges and hot tea! MMMmmm, hot tea! We accepted! She spoke good english after working in Malaysia as a maid for 2 years, and told us about her life back in the village. Much harder obviously. We asked to buy some oranges from her, and handed over $2 for the tea and friut. She looked almost shocked at the money. 'Oh, you want many oranges for this'...and off she went to pull more oranges off the tree. We had to ask her to stop eventually, she had hundreds! and seemed intent on giving them all to us. 'Thats enough, thank you' after she'd gathered a whole carrier bag full!
Back in the homestay, something was 'unusual'. There were loads of family members about and one of the sons was BBQ'ing big chunks of meat out the back of the house. (meat is very expensive so to see big chunks is odd!)We asked if there was something special happening and they gleefully filled us in. Apparently it was a celebration of the "buffalo coming to the house because the old person is dead"(their words!) This is like a dowery apparently, when an old person dies in a family, other people (dont know who) gives the family a buffalo. Then the family continues to celebrate this time of year by having a big feast...remembering the dead as it were. They asked us to join them in the meal. We accepted thankfully, what a great opportunity!! :D The meat was cooking away, the women were cooking rice and chatting out the back of the house. We sat watching. Then we asked what the meat was? The son smiled and said 'dog'! Oh Bugger! the moment of truth is upon us, can we eat dog or not! We talked about it(quietly)and decided...its been 4 months since the unpleasant first introduction to dog butchery in that market in southern China, and since then weve seen a lot of dog meat, its just another farmed animal. And besides, we'd accepted!We were both happy'ish to go along with it.
Ive never seen a village produce so much food! Usually they eat small portions, but this feat was massive! From only a medium sized dog that made enough food to feed 30 people! but there was only about 12 of us! I guess theyre going to be eating it for the rest of the week:D (a dog at the market costs $25 a cow costs $300)
We sat at the table and were given a huge bowl of rice, a huge bowl of meat, chilli sauce, and a cup of the deadly arak! (distilled palm alcohol) We have now eaten dog, and can say with some certainty that we may have eaten it before. It tastes exactly like mutton! So similar in fact, I doubt i could tell them apart!
Dog chop with mint sauce would be really tasty :D
We gave the family our huge bag of oranges as a thank you. They firstly declined saying there were many fruit in the area and we should keep them, but we insisted, we had nothing else to bring to the feast. They accepted them for friendship.
We hung around Moni til the next morning to see the market and let our thighs recover a bit. Forest markets are great. You see exactly what is important in peoples lives. Fruit/veg/clothes/torches and batteries/knives/tools.
One thing weve noticed about Indonesia so far is that they are the friendliest people weve ever seen! Literally everyone smiles and says 'hello mista'(if a child) or 'hello' if they are over 12 years! You quickly get used to just how friendly they are. And honest too! In most other countries, as a whitie, you pay a higher price for stuff than the locals, often MUCH MORE!! but not really here. If you are paying a higher price at all (and usually you arent) then its a tiny increase. In the market we saw people who did not know quite what to make of us. A few stares ! An uncomfortable half-smile when we said 'hello' or smiled at them! How sweet! People who are still protected from the ever progressing trail of the backpacker!
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