On the trail to Sumba

Trip Start Sep 30, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Merlin Hotel

Flag of Indonesia  , East Nusa Tenggara,
Thursday, April 1, 2010

Mo's Entry

Finally I get to go to one of my dream destinations.  Anywhere I hear 'some of the best and most unique weavings in the world' and I'm in!  Also I don't mind that it's a remote Indonesian island and there won't be many tourists!

First we had to find a way to get there and after looking into boat schedules and looking at our timeline we decided to fly.  We found a flight from Maumere...the other side of Flores from where we are.We find ourselves on a killer mini van ride across the windy, volcanic (translated means lots of mountins) island.  We were stuffed in with two other couples and we'd all been told different stories about what the van was supposed to do.  One couple thought we were taking three days and sight seeing along the way.  Mike and I had to catch a flight in two days.  We had all been sweet talked into getting in the van and coughing up our money.

After 14 hours in the van we did do one stop at 11:30 in Moni to wake up at 4:00 in the morning so we could rush up to see Kelimutu.  A volcano with three different coloured lakes, black, deep green and turquoise, best seen at sunrise....though I think it would have been good any time of day. The turquoise lake was especially beautiful reminded me of the ruggedness of some Canadian mountains.  Was it worth it?...hmmm...yawning and stumbling around in the dark to get there...I'm not sure.

There were very tourists on the flight to Sumba..good so far.  We met by a lovely young man, Harvey, who was connected to the hotel we had picked to stay in.  He drove us there and took me around to see weaving in the afternoon. I asked if he wanted some money and he said, "no he didn't want any"....hadn't had this happen on the trip yet!

We began seeing weaving everywhere.  There were only three tourists in town so the textiles sellers would find out what restaurant we were eating at and set up an impromptu 'store' buy the restaurant window.  It was hard to eat without being distracted.  I bought my first piece of weaving at the Melolo market...while drinking some palm wine. We were also visiting villages and I was swarmed by textile sellers when we arrived.  They held out their  pieces and made a circle around me each trying to get their piece of weavng closest to my eyes. It made it hard to see them.

The weavings are done with warps intricately wrapped in ikat patterns with each colour dyed seperately.  Most of the dyes are natural and sometimes they need to dye the warps several times to reach the richness of colour.  Alot of the weavings depict people and animals with almost cartoon like faces that seem to almost stand out in 3D. 

We decided to head down the coast to Mr. David's. an Australian who's lived in Sumba for over thirty years and is running a resort.  This was a way I could see some weaving from the famed village of Kaludia and Mike could get some beach time.  I got out to the village the next day on the back of a motorbike and bought a gorgeous black, red and white piece done in horizontal bands with figures of villagers and chickens. I've never seen anything like them.  I was able to bargain for them in Indonesian....I had to...no one spoke English.  The weavings I wanted were between 100 and 150 dollars...cheap for Canada but more than most other Asian countries. We had a lovely few days at Mr. David's on a secluded beach as far as the eye could see. Mr. David cooked us up curries, fish and even did a steak for Mike.

We headed back to Waingapu where I loaded up on some more treasures...can't wait to get them home!

Mike's Entry

On our first adventure out of Waingapu we wanted to take the the minibus to Minolo the second largest village on the east coast 60k away to go to their Friday market. That morning  we head to a street near our hotel where the minibus to Minolo is suppose to leave from.When we get there we ask which is the bus for Minolo and eveyone points to a colourful green minibus up on jacks due to a flat tire. Is there another minibus to Minolo. Apparently not.
 Eventually they fix the flat and we get going then drive around the nearby streets a bit picking up people to fill up the mini-bus. Once we are full enough they head south to Minolo or so we thought thy end up picking more people up at their house they load a bunch of bags and then we are finally Minolo bound. 
 We asked them if the minibus goes to the market just outside of Minolo. They say yes they'll go there. We ask if they know where we can get a minibus back to they said they'd be back in Minolo about 3. Wow we get there for 15,000 for the 2 of us less than a buck each. We had heard it was difficult getting around in Sumba and we would have to hire private 4 wheel drive or take a local bus on rough roads that takes hours to get around but it wasn't so.

 Our next adventure out of Waingapu was to south east coast to Mr. David's beach resort. Same thing happens, we walk to the street wher the minibus leaves from. We ask if the minibus goes to this certain village where the resort is by and they reply ¨You want to go to Mr. David's?¨ ¨Yes we go there.¨
We get on the minibus they do their drive around town picking up people and goods from peoples homes including one stop where they loaded many bags of fine gravel for masonary work and I think ¨If I use the bus again I'll get them to pick me up at my hotel.¨

 Eventually we are off. When we reached Minolo I noticed that he didn´t go down the road that led to the market, maybe they only go on Fridays. I thought lucky us.

On the trip down I notice that they pick up mail, money and other goods that the bus driver and his partner deliver goods the mail the money and the people up and down the highway. This little minibus service is a lifeline, a mail service, a courier service as well as a public bus!

When we finally get to the small village I thought they would drop us off at, they turn down a sandy beach road fit more for an ATV than a minibus and 10 minutes later we get dropped off at the front entrance of Mr. David's. Add chauffering to their list of services.

Four days later they pick us up where they dropped us off. Who said getting around Sumba was difficult?
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