Day of my flight, we run around buying and trying to ship some souvenirs. The post office tells us they don’t have ‘immigration’ and cannot ship internationally
. Immigration? What? We aren’t trying to send people. Carrying the stuff on board our flights not really an option, too big and heavy. Alternative of overnight ferry instead of flying, no thanks. Richard comes to our rescue and drives us to another post office. They make calls to get pricing. We wait, then ask to be called back, because it is taking too long. We go for lunch. We get a call at the restaurant ‘s telephone, asking what it is we’re trying to ship. How did they know to call us here? Ahhh right, it’s the only half-decent place in town and we’ve eaten here every single meal. The whole village probably knows about us and our preferred meal destination. Back at the hotel, we are told that it costs $89 per kilo to ship. Excuse me? That is ridiculous. Manu shipped a pack of 4 or so kg from Lombok for $20. WTH? Lots of discussions and trying to come up with solutions. Richard is a gem and willing to put the stuff on the ferry for us, so we’d fly, but the souvenirs go by water to Kupang. Then he remembers that a second seat has become available and in an afterthought asks if Manu wants to also fly today instead of tomorrow. Duh! Hell yes. It’s an hour before we have to leave, so Manu rushes to pack while I am still trying to sort out this shipping drama. In the end, we take it on the flight and pay the overweight fee to ship stuff from Kupang.
The Lewoleba airport can be described as ‘interesting’
. Our Susi-Air plane is a 12-seater, little propeller hopper. I am stoked about our Kiwi pilots and it turns out to be, not just the most scenic flight, but also very comfortable with an impressive take-off and landing on a joke of an airstrip.
I am happy to be in Kupang now, where there is a minor improvement in bathroom standards and food options. The sleezy stares and ‘hello meeester’ still persists. At least we are not the only Bule (foreigners) in this town.
I am feeling alright in Kupang, where you can last a few days. English naval officer Captain William Bligh hung out here too after being cast adrift by the mutinous crew of the Bounty
in 1789. Kupang is the capital of West Timor and the NTT province, which is the poorest in Indonesia. No wonder we were having a bit of a rough time the past few weeks.
While Manu focuses on work, I explore None, the last headhunting village on earth, in a day trip. Because I am cheap, I make my guide Ony take local transport instead of renting a driver or car. None village is once again a world apart from anything I am familiar with. People of the Amanuban tribe live in palm huts, where parents still bury their baby’s placenta in the centre of their hut
. Only a few generations ago, before Portuguese and Dutch colonization, warriors met with shamans here to consult chicken eggs and their wooden staff before predicting if the head hunters will survive an outing. It is not advisable to come here without a guide. People speak some 14 tribal languages in Timor. Not even Bahasa Indonesia gets you anywhere here anymore. It is expected that you bring a gift of betel nuts to the village chief, who welcomes us in the central hut called Umek Bubu or Lopo, 'welcoming place'. I meet the infamous midwife, the father of the chief and am taken around with the whole village tagging along, while one of the men explains the history and significance of this place. It sits atop a cliff and is protected by a native rock fort. The Amanuban are now Christian with some leftover Animism beliefs still mixed in. I question their oracle methods of going to war, but they demonstrate their ways as if it was the most mundane thing to make decisions based on chicken eggs and wooden sticks. What a fascinating world.
Other than the above, I have nothing else good to say about our stay here. In fact, the day before our departure, I am so angry and frustrated and sick of it all, that writing about all our experiences would leave a horribly bad taste. So let me finish by saying that Indonesia is a country of stunning natural beauty. I might feel different about it had I not strained from the tourist track. And I did want to come back to see more of it. Right now though, I am not sure anymore if I still do. At least not for a few years I think.
Our last night ends pleasant with final chats and thanks for his guidance and advice at Edwin Lerrick’s Lavalon (www.lavalontouristinfo.com
). His friend even drove us home and one of his drivers ran an errand for us, while we were enjoying our last Bintang beers
. Edwin reminded me of the good people we met in Indonesia. So I’d like to close by giving thanks to the following people (in order of appearance):
- Couchsurfer Melinda, who I sadly never ended up meeting in person
- CSers David, Ravi and friends in Jakarta
- CS and artists Rully and his friend Mali from Yogyakarta
- ‘Birdman’ in Yogyakarta for making us laugh: Vera can provide a re-enactment of his attempt to sell us a riksha ride to the Bird Market
- ‘Frodo’ at our hotel in Ende
- Mattheus, Andi and the afro-crew at Hidayah hotel in Moni
- Ankermi and Claudia in Waiterang (http://www.ankermi-happydive.com/
- The nuns that let me pee and gave me bananas, at the convent between Lewoleba and Lamalera
- Richard and family at Hotel Rejeki in Lewoleba
- Mamma Maria, Paulus and crew in Lamalera
- Edwin from Lavalon in Kupang, www.lavalontouristinfo.com
- Unknown lady at the night market in Kupang that helped us translate our dinner order
- Last, but not least, Ony Meda, tour guide extraordinaire, in Kupang
Our experience would not have been enjoyable without all of you!
All Kupang flights were booked until Saturday. We can't possibly stay in Lewoleba that long. After some back and forth trying to see if there is some sort of stand-by-solution, Richard, our hotel owner drives me to the travel agent by the airport. I find myself in someone’s living room on a dirt road close to the airport. Don’t think of a room like anything you know that comes to mind at the term 'living room'. There is a little girl, a grandpa and a young lady in a yellow track suit and black headscarf. The track-suited, headscarfed lady pulls out the flight schedule, a paper notebook. I end up making a ‘reservation’ for one available seat tomorrow and one other the following day. We’ll fly separately, but there is no way, we’ll stay until Saturday!