10 unusual days

Trip Start Dec 12, 2005
Trip End Jul 12, 2016

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Where I stayed
Merlin Hotel

Flag of Indonesia  ,
Wednesday, May 2, 2007

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How it all started ...

I always feel kind of weird when I have 2 fly with an unknown airline - especially if you are familiar with the death toll (well, number of accidents in Indo) ☺. I woke up rather early and I felt a bit dizzy (probably the heat, I' ve started to feel like a camel in this place ☺). When I was sitting @ the airport in Denpasar, I started 2 laugh @ the randomness of the place; the domestic terminal is more Indonesian than the international one - it's more of a "real deal" ☺. The dude, sitting next to me had these "I love bali" red flip - flops with a big red flowery hearts all over them. My flight was delayed only for an hour and ten minutes (so practically, we were on time!) and as I was boarding the plane ("new" Fokker 100) one guy said to me: this plane is really full today - didn't want to know that!! When we were driving towards the runway, the dude on my left couldn't fold the table (the little one), so a guy behind me stood up, pulled a screwdriver from the pocket and repaired the table! The flight was smooth, apart from the coffee accident in front of me, when a man with dark glasses spilled his coffee all over his neighbor.

I met Mike, who works in Sumba (he's Australian) - something with corn, he was wearing a t-shirt saying "Pastoral something", so of course I was suspicious - too many bad experiences with missionaries! Well, he recommended hotel Merlin and invited me to go with him the next morning - to show me around a bit (he has a car!). Came 2 the hotel @ 12, packed my camera and docs in my waterproof bag and went for a stroll around the "town" of Waingapu. Looks big on the map but it's actually pretty tiny and I was walking around all the people were starring at me (there are just a few tourists!:) and I was offered "transport" probably like 123 times. The kids were screaming "hello mister, hello mister!" people are very friendly, but there is no such thing as English, so I started 2 learn Bahasa Indonesia ☺ (Schnellkurs)! ☺

Went to the pier and tried to figure out the plan for the day, but as I have returned to the hotel, I fell asleep on the bed ☺. In the afternoon, Freddy (the dude from the hotel), took me to one of the traditional villages (Praiwaita - or something similar) and that was pretty touristy (without tourists) they expect tourists to give donations to the village - I asked what it was for and they said, that they repair roads - indeed! ☺. It's hot as hell in this place and as I was shown some ikat (the traditional textile, dyed with natural colors) I probably couldn't look less interested ☺ went back "home" and fell asleep!

Here is some anthropological/sociological/geographical sumbanese background:
Sumba is one of the islands in Nusa Tenggara and it's one of the least developed (well, the roads are GOOD) anyway, they still have a royal family in East Sumba and this royal family (and all the other rich families) has slaves - YES, slaves. They buy them in slave markets (which century is this?) and they serve their masters until they either: a) die or b) become free. One of the traditions is also paying a high dowry, which is usually (if the bride is "good quality" as they've said) around 50.000.000 IDR (that's around 5500 USD). Now imagine a young man from the countryside, who works on a farm to pay that amount of money - well, maybe NOT! Therefore many girls stay unmarried, because no one can afford them! Another "habit" is, to put megalithic tombs of their ancestors in their front yard or in the middle of the village - where houses are usually built in circle around the tombs. It felt like meeting the past again, with all the animistic beliefs, spirits and mysterious, unwritten rules. The island of Sumba is divided into East and West Sumba with their own provincial government. In 1996 (I think) they had the last big tribal conflict (probably because of the land ownership), which resulted in more than 3000 casualties (that's the number my guidebook states).
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