Bye Bye Bau- Bau!
27 August 2010 | Bau Bau
The last two days of our stopover in Bau Bau were action packed with a visit to a Balinese village where we watched graceful dancing performances and enjoyed a morning tea of traditional food. This visit seemed to be an effort by the organisers to impress upon us how the Balinese who are Hindu live in harmony within a predominantly Muslim country. Many years ago the Balinese were encouraged to settle in this area of Sulawesi because they are experts in growing rice and because of the availability of land to do so, compared to the island of Bali. The highlights of our stay however, were the Welcome/ Blessing ceremony followed by dinner at the fortress and the formal dinner at the mayor of Bau Bau's official residence. The Welcoming ceremony involved 5 local elders dressed in traditional costume who performed a special blessing ceremony for the rally participants. One by one we filed past to shake hands with the elders and be blessed with the water. It was quite special. Following this we were taken up to the fortress( the largest rampart in the world) where we visited a few different houses demonstrating weaving and jewelry making from brass. Then we walked up to the fort itself where we saw more traditional dancing. Accompanied by many dignitaries, officials and plenty of onlookers we were led into a building where we were invited to sit on the floor opposite these beautifully made-up local women in traditional clothing. In between us was a feast- all this amazing food, so well presented on brass pedestals and covered in bright coloured cloth. After a prayer,the women then lifted off the coverings to reveal the vast expanse of food and began to serve us. It was really delicious and ranged from savory to sweet with wine glasses of water to wash it all down. It was all quite magnificent and we were were overwhelmed by the generosity of the locals in the preparation of this event. The mayor's dinner on the final evening was extra special for Bern & I as we were invited to dress in traditional costume for the evening. It was a real privilege for us and a very enjoyable experience. The costumes are quite spectacular, heavily bejewelled, with exotic headgear and enhanced by lots of 'bling'- bracelets and earrings. The evening involved a traditional dinner, many more dance performances, speeches and finishing off with communal dancing involving everyone. It was a terrific night and we have many memorable photos of the event. After a very exciting week, we finally bade farewell to Bau Bau and enjoyed an overnight sail of light winds, flat seas and a full moon to Bonerate, a small island group that breaks up our journey. Tomorrow we set sail for the western end of Flores Island.