08/09/2012, Kalabahi, Island of Alor, Indonesia
For the first time since we were at Lizard Island, in the Great Barrier Reef last June, we went snorkeling!!! It was so great to get in the water again and to have crystal clear water. Boy, have we missed the water! You would think with us living on the water, we would be able to just fall off the boat anytime we wanted to and go swimming. Well, with us being in croc country for the last couple of months while we were in Australia that just was not the case. Furthermore, since we have been in Indonesia, we have anchored adjacent to towns where it is customary to have some garbage floating in the water. While the water has been clear, seeing plastic bags and other things float by your boat diminishes the desire to fall into the water.
To get to the beach we all piled into a bus with our guide, Ahmed. Along the way to the beach we stopped at a Muslim village. It was an historical site because before becoming a Muslim village it was a traditional village where the warriors were head hunters. It was their custom to bury the heads of their victims in a common grave site. I will post a picture of this grave site. We were told that in the grave are about 4,000 skulls!
Next we drove on to our nice beach. Blue and turquoise water beckoned us and soon we had our snorkeling gear in hand and were in the water. Ahhhh! It felt soooo good to be back in the water again. The beach is located on the western side of Alor and we will be sailing by it when we move on to the next island in a couple of days. There was a very nice reef that went up to the beach. Since the tide was out, the reef was just a few feet before the water's surface. We saw a variety of soft and hard corals that we had never seen before. I will post photos of them above this blog.
After a nice swim and wonderful little box lunch and a rest, we returned to Kalabahi and our anchorage. As we returned, we talked to Dana of S/V Northfork and we decided that we were both going to take a day off tomorrow and rest before sailing on. Thus, we will leave Alor together on Saturday. The next stop is about 90 nm away so we will just do a day sail of about 60 nm and then continue on the next day to the island of Lembata.
A number of other boats left Alor today and most will be leaving tomorrow. However, everything has just been too "go, go, go" for us so we are taking tomorrow off to rest. We are in no hurry and, in fact, are starting to feel "toured out" a bit. We are not really rally people. We certainly have had a lot of fun so far but we really miss the quite anchorages where we can do our own thing at our own pace. Thus, this next stop may be our last rally stop for awhile. I am anxious to sail over to the Komodo National Park where there are scores of islands, all with white sandy beaches, great snorkeling and quite, secluded anchorages. The idea of getting away from the maddening crowd is so inviting right now.
08/08/2012, Kalabaha, Alor Island, Indonesia
Today's adventure was going to a remote traditional village in the mountains of Alor. Our hosts here in Alor had recommended that we take two tours. The first is to this traditional village and the second is to a nice beach with a reef and great snorkeling. Today we went to the traditional village, tomorrow we are going snorkeling.
As we made our way out of the town of Kalabahi, we made two stops. The first was at the Museum of 1000 Mokos and the second stop was at the main market.
Mokos are bronze metal drums that are shaped like an hourglass. They were discovered years ago buried in a field here on the island of Alor. Many date back to the 13th century but some date as far back as 700 BC and the designs are from the Dongson culture that developed in Vietnam and China during that era. They are a mystery as to how they got to Alor and why they were buried. However, they have become an important asset to the culture here. When a man wishes to wed a girl from Alor, he must present between one and three Mokos as a gift to the girl's family. No Mokos, no wedding. I find this interesting since there are only about a 1000 Mokos on the island and about 170,000 people live here.
The next stop was the main market. Here we saw another open air market with all kinds of fruits and vegetables and nuts for sale. There was also a fish market and a many stalls that sold clothes and various sundry items. We ended up buying a watermelon for about $2.50 US.
We then made our way out of town and drove through the countryside of Alor. We ended up on the north side of the island before turning onto a narrow dirt road, more like a path, which headed up the mountain side. The road was cut into the side of the mountain and as we rose in elevation, the steep slope dropped sharply away. Those on that side of the little bus we were on were a bit nervous as they looked way down the slope to the ocean below.
After bouncing around a bit and making a few hairpin turns, we arrived at the traditional village called Takpala. We were greeted by the few men of the village who were wearing headdresses, waving swords at us and carrying bows and arrows. They then broke out into a song and dance and welcomed us to their village. We were lead to a sitting area that was in front of a raise earthen floor. Here we were met by the ladies of the village dressed in traditional clothes. Soon they and the men were presenting us with a number of their dances and songs. At the end, we were invited to join them with the dancing. This time, Mary Margaret manned the camera and I was given the opportunity to "wow" the ladies with my dancing abilities. My two left feet generated a lot of smiles from the ladies but they were kind and kept smiling as I tried to keep the beat and shuffle my feet at the same time.
Next, they presented to us their version of an open air market offered a number of things that they had made. In fact, many of the baskets, weapons and other things showed evidence of wear. Thus, we concluded that they had been used a bit and the family that owned them needed to raise some money so they were offering for sale some of their things. Just like a flea market or what we call a garage sale back in the US.
I ended up buying a hand carved knife with a wooden sheaf and a Jaguar's head carved on its hilt. It will make a nice wall hanging when we retire from sailing when placed next to the large broad blade war axe I got in Fiji.
Mary Margaret bought a nice hand woven basket and a beautiful, natural hand woven cloth that could be a wrap around (sarong) or a table cloth.
After our little shopping spree, we were lead to a couple of their traditional houses, which are built on stilts and covered with a thatched roof. Each house has three floors. Bottom floor serves as a kitchen and bedroom, second floor used to store corn or other foodstuffs, and when the second floor is full, the food can be stored on the third floor which also serves as a warehouse. The second floor is also often used to entertain guests. The first floor has no walls and this is where we were seated. The floor was covers by mats. Here we were served a nice cold lunch of rice, bananas, some brown noodles with nuts, a piece of fish and some beef, all accompanied by a small salad. The fish and beef were very tasty but a bit spicy. Poor Mary Margaret, who has a very sensitive palate, could not adjust to the spices so she could not finish the noodles, fish or beef.
After lunch we said our farewells and returned to Kalabahi and our boats. It was a most enjoyable day. I will try posting the pictures we took and some video as soon as I can.
The drummers wanted their picture taken also. They joined a few of the dancers with Stuart and Shelia and Mary Margaret and Il.
Here is the "Eagle" with Shelia and I.
This lovely dance is with Shelia and I.