Bena Village

Trip Start Apr 07, 2012
Trip End Jan 12, 2013

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Flag of Indonesia  , East Nusa Tenggara,
Monday, October 22, 2012

About 10km from Bajawa where I laid my head for the night was the ancient village of Bena. Grass roofs reaching for the sky all lined up on each side of the little village is the scene the spaghetti roads delivered us to. Three Indonesian tourists, each touring their country having just taken the Hippocratic Oath as doctors in Jakarta - and each soon to be sent to the far reaches of this nation of islands for their next year of training. They wanted to hitch a ride with me back to Bajawa to get a bus to Moni for their turn at the three coloured lakes - we had to go that way so I happily offered the ride. In return, Angka, gave me a tour of the village sharing all he had learned from spending the previous night in the village.

There are about 100 people there and nine chiefs - each chief means there is a male umbrella like hut as well as a female - not hut looking hut built in remembrance of their ancestors.  When making the male ancestors structure they villagers bury alive a red pig, red chicken as well as some red trees - a week later the structure is ready. There are numerous stone monument as well to represent graves and respect ancestors. Each chief's house will have a little male figure holding swords on the roof peak if a male and a little hut shape on the roof peak if a female chief.

For social status the villagers slaughter a Water Buffalo or pig for a festival feasts  - the antlers and jaw bows then adorn their front porch showing with pride their hard work and sacrifices. They say if asked that there are 100,000 people from the village. This counts ancestors as well and those living elsewhere who are sure to flood home for the festivals. 

The day I visited there would be a festival for the celebration of re-roofing one of the homes. The villagers were busy cutting a new bamboo frame and binding piles of grass to reconstruct a roof that lasts up to 35 years. Missionaries arrived here long ago to bring Catholicism though it is mixed with their traditional animism beliefs. For instance the belief that the village as a whole was once a ship - it sailed in from the sea and was blocked from further progress by the mountain in front so their it stopped and grew roots. The water is long gone but for the sea you can see off in the distance from the back end of the village.

The ladies were weaving on rudimentary looms and spinning wheels. And found drying in the sun around the village is coffee beans, cocoa seeds, cloves, bay leaves and bundles of cinnamon and vanilla pods were for sale.
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