Indonesia - Flores - MotoTour - Wae Rebo Traditional Village / by Mark Boyd

I realised I'd misread the time.  It was actually four o'clock.  It had taken me 7.5 hours with my stop for family food.  My average speed was down to less than 20km per hour along the rough tracks hoping to save my tyres.  As the rain literally hammered down I was already regretting leaving the poncho in the scooter.  Not only that I'd left my change of clothes with the old man in the shack.  The narrow muddy path was already becoming a stream.  I stomped through puddles and streams for an hour and thirty minutes before I came to the Wae Rebo welcome sign.... The mist and cloud were thick.... There was nothing to see at the viewpoints enroute.... I was a little chilly now.  The elevation had increased, but I was almost there.

I slumped in to the quiet green area surrounded by the traditional cone shaped homes.  A man approached me.  He could see I was cold and wet.  The rain began to slow. 

He invited me over in to 'The Elder's' home.  Here there would be a brief welcome ceremony and a blessing for my stay at Wae Rebo.  For this a small soggy donation was handed over.  I can't remember the exact amount, but they didn't have change for my large wet denomination notes so took what I had on offer in small denomination cash.  As I sat dripping on the mat The Elder did his little prayer of thanks etc.  It was me, him, two old ladies at the back (who looked slightly mad) and the young guy who had led me over. 

 Smokin' Madness Personified.... 

Smokin' Madness Personified.... 

 I think there may be traveller's heads in them there pots. 

I think there may be traveller's heads in them there pots. 

The ritual known as Pa'u Wae Lu'u is led by the traditional elders.  The elder requests permission and protection to the ancestral spirits of the guests who visit and live in Wae Rebo until the guest, ie. Me, leave this village.  After a minute or so I was being led to the main accommodation cone.  There were a couple of other tourists there from England.  We chatted for a while.  I headed to the back, outside to where the concrete wash cubicle was.  I was still cold and the water was too cold.... I opted out.  It was pretty dark, but I noticed something on top of my foot as a poured water down on them to wash them....  The leech removed itself as the pouring water pounded it's soft form.  It then looped it's way along the floor and on to the toilet bowl.  My foot bled profusely and continued to do so again for around and hour and a half.  Bloody leeches! 

When I told the other couple that I'd walked up in an hour and a half their eye's nearly popped out of their heads!  Ha ha!  The two young American guys had also scootered here, but they'd chosen to stop where the single track road ended rather than tackling the rough track.  This meant they'd walked another couple of hours on top.  Suckerrrrrrrrrrrs!!!  I had rung out my shirt, but it was still heavily damp and cool.  I was invited in to the kitchen area to sit by the fire to see if my clothes would dry out in the warmth.  This place was great!

The local ladies had just started preparing the evening meal..... veg were being chopped, along with a chicken's throat which was also being chopped.... and all the while tiny kitten moved between the embers of the cooking fire searching for warmth. 

The room was soooooo dark and soooooooo smoky..... No chimney to let the plumes go anywhere but around the room.  The camera was being pushed to super high ISO's but even so the shutter speed was still slow.... But I think I've managed to capture the general atmosphere of the kitchen.

The local chap who'd led me in to the kitchen returned with a dark pink t-shirt for me to wear, whilst my shirt dried.  This was great.  I looked insane, but it really was nice to be wearing something dry.

We all took our places on the mat for the communal evening meal.

The food was wholesome, healthy and very, very tasty!  The chilli sambar was enough to make your eyes bleed!  After eats and a little chat we all tucked up on our bamboo mats.  There were thick, furry blankets to provide warmth, and the nights get cool at this altitude.  The English couple moved places due to spotting a few huge spiders over their heads..... But those huge spiders were everywhere, and would no doubt wander around in the night.  I took one of the huge, furry blankets from beside my mat and folded it over to double it up.  This would be my make shift mattress for this night.  The bamboo mat on the wooden floor was not comfortable at all.  And considering this cost almost £20.00 to stay for the night including evening meal and breakfast a thin mattress would have been nice!  To give you some idea, accommodation normally costs around £6.00 for a shared room.... with a good bed.... and an okay breakfast.  Having said that the evening meal was great, the breakfast was great and the experience of staying in one of these traditional places was also great.  So all in all, when it's broken down it's not so bad.  I do hear a lot of tourists complaining about the costs..... But a lot of them also pay for tours to get there.... Plus the additional cost of a guide for the trekking part.... Totally unnecessary.

I awoke early hoping to catch sunrise over the village, but the clouds were thick and the stiff breeze kept it cool.  I walked up to the burial area and waited.

 It's a cute place..... and due to the inconvenience of getting here.... It remains fairly quiet, especially at this time of year.

It's a cute place..... and due to the inconvenience of getting here.... It remains fairly quiet, especially at this time of year.

No one slept particularly well, but hard wooden floors will do that to you.  I knew breakfast would be good and provide me with energy for what lay ahead.  That being the walk back down which would again take me around one hour thirty, maybe one hour fifteen seeing as it was downhill, then the treacherous section of mopeding...... Then I was hoping to cover over 200km's and get to Ende by nightfall.... The American guys were hoping to get to the main town before Ende and get there the following day, which made far more sense.... But I love a challenge!

 If you look really close you can see a Drum House rooftop..... I couldn't see this view the day before due to rain and mist... I've lightened the area to make it easier for you to spot.  Remote!

If you look really close you can see a Drum House rooftop..... I couldn't see this view the day before due to rain and mist... I've lightened the area to make it easier for you to spot.  Remote!

I ate breakfast and headed down.  I hoped my bike was still there.... and the old man in the shack at the side of the track....