Techni-coloured volcano lakes

Trip Start Sep 18, 2010
Trip End Jul 27, 2011

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Where I stayed
What I did
Kelimutu Flores
Read my review - 5/5 stars
Hot springs
unknown waterfall

Flag of Indonesia  , East Nusa Tenggara,
Monday, May 9, 2011

Local bus from Ende to Moni. I am sitting with ear plugs, trying to dull the music blasting from the speakers. Not a chance. It still makes my lungs vibrate. At least the styles cater to many tastes. Local tunes, Country, Latin, Popular Western dance music and ballads seep through the silicone in my ears. Cutest puppy under my seat, its head sticking out from a plastic rice bag, sad looking, scared eyes, but not moving. Someone's dinner I imagine (though I have not asked what the best eating age is for Fido meat. Maybe cutie has a few more years ahead of him). Outside, once again the lushest, densest tree tops in great rolling hills and mountains, streams and waterfalls in between and tin-roof houses. We’ve moved on to American Country music. Outside rice terraces now, greenest green against blue sky with fluffy white clouds on one side, thick grey clouds on the other. The bus is not too stuffed and the driver goes at a reasonable speed. People are napping on each others shoulders, strangers to each other, I am sure of it. Personal space is not a concept anyone is familiar with here or ever seems to crave. Small-ish men (they are all miniscule here) standing in the open door. No animals or humans on the roof this time. With exception of the heavy bass of the music, this is quite a comfortable ride. Backstreet Boys, Abba, Rihanna, Bollywood are all on board. Certainly, my most entertaining bus ride ever.

Moni is a place we could chill for a few days if it wasn’t for the lack of WIFI. Thankfully it is weekend, so Manu does not have to work tonight. After a heavy downpour, we have lunch, walk to less than impressive hot springs, and get to a nice waterfall when it is already getting dark. Back at the hotel, we are invited to join the hotel family for a birthday dinner. Tastiest roast chicken in a long time. Then off to a local dance show. A two minute walk over rocks and mud between local corrugated roof houses, ending in a sort of backyard or flattened earth mud patch. Four plastic chairs, one neon light. Bugs the size of little birds flying around the light, ducks quaking on one side, a dog howling on the other. Someone begins to drum against an object by a tree some 15 meters away. It is too dark to distinguish what exactly the drum is made of. A handful of ladies come out chit-chatting and arranging their blouses and typical 'ikat’ sarongs. The show itself is not exactly spectacular, the cast appears bored at best, though an elderly lady impresses with her singing voice. Andi, one of many afro-head cousins running our hotel sits next to me explaining the scenes: About Kelimutu volvano and its lakes, daily life and so forth. And the end, obligatory sales attempts of ikat following the familiar "What’s your name? Where you from?" and a new one for me “How old are you?”. I always get a kick out of telling them that I am 34; and no, I am not married; and yes, I am traveling alone, sort of, some of the time. People here often look much much older than they are. Once they are married anyways. Before that, they look like 10 when they could be 19.

At 4.30am the next morning, the afro-cousins take us to Kelimutu with their motorcycles. I drive up with Andi, who took along his pillow, stuffed under his shirt to stay warm. And a blanket that he flips around himself, so I can have some of it as well. Sweet, but I try to stay warm without it to avoid him getting funny ideas. Never know what goes on in peoples' heads here. On the climb up from the foot of Kelimutu, we make a wrong turn on what is supposed to be a 20 minute hike and consequently miss the start of sunrise. Nevertheless, the view from the top down to the three techni-coloured volcano lakes is nothing short of spectacular. Another sunrise I did not regret getting up for. There are only a handful of other likeminded, crazy travelers, most of which we already know from previous stops. 

We hike back the 14km to town, arrive sweaty, with muddy shoes, and with a fat blister and messed up knees for myself and Manu respectively. Marc, our Andorrian buddy seems unfazed. He competes in mountain races back home, so this was a piece of cake. We occasionally got a taste of his athleticism when he’d jog ahead in spots where we carefully placed one foot in front of the other, testing the ground to avoid slipping and twisting our ankles. Once, on the way, crossing tree-covered grasslands, a bull attacked us. Lucky for us, it was tied down, though surely it could have easily broken free if it was aware of its own strength. Wouldn’t that have made for a story?! Gored by a Flores bull. The short cut we took off the windy paved road passes villages in the hills, where life seems so different from ours I can’t even begin to describe it. Some ladies carrying their load on their heads pass us and I notice how they no longer strike me as photo worthy. Just a few months ago, I would have considered them an extra-ordinary picture opportunity. Now it’s just common, we’re so used to this type of image.
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