Post date: Sep 8, 2011 12:15:07 PM
The entry to here is very tricky, reefs that are not always easy to see, especially if the sun is low, late in the afternoon, high tide or if there is cloud cover that reflects off the water. We found a reef, and Lupari does not have barnacles on her keel any more – or much paint!!. We were fortunate to get off straight away, other yachts have had to spend several hours waiting for the high tide, once grounded on a coral reef.
With help from another yacht, using our AIS track and their track, they led us into the anchorage, which was very safe and secure once we were there.
Eventually there were 30 yachts here. There were celebrations planned for us. A welcoming ceremony, musical and arts events – we saw our first pole dancing exhibition as well as the usual lego lego dancing. Tours had been arranged for us – interesting tours in “interesting” transport., a dinner and sporting events.
“it is like walking through the pages of National Geographic” was the comment from one of the yacht crews here.
This is a fishing village, although tourists are being encouraged to come and see the 17 Island National Park which has spectacular diving and komodo dragons, apparently. There are actually 22 islands in the park but the name celebrated Independence Day on 17th August, hence 17. this is Indonesia. Bamboo huts on stilts on a lean on mud flats. Coconut palms dotted around and rice fields. We saw our first water buffalo. I thought they would be bigger. Quite beautiful land with the backdrop of high volcanic mountains.
There are restaurants here which serve great food, it is beginning to have a tourist industry of sorts taking adventure tourists diving and dragon spotting.
Our first tour at Riung took us to plantation gardens where we saw vanilla, cocoa beans, betel, rice, pineapples and cassava growing. Our transport was a truck/bus – not very comfortable but excellent air conditioning!!
Vanilla is epiphytic orchid vine that needs the support and shade of another plant. The flowers are a delicate green and they have to be hand pollinated in order to produce the bean (seed pod) in about April. Some of the flowers were open but there was no sign of any pods.
These trees look uninteresting until you notice the tiny flowers and pods sprouting from the trunks. These were green too, to be harvested when they are yellow or red, then they are ripe.
these fruit grow from the trunk as well, several plants do this here – a strange phenomenon.
Many people here chew betel nut, from a tall palm tree. It is chewed with lime powder and turns a red colour in the mouth. It is customary for women to chew betel, although some men do too. Men smoke tobacco, here women who smoke are considered immoral. Betel nut chewing stains and rots the teeth and mouths and we haven't seen anyone who has been using betel to look very attractive.
These rice fields had young plants growing in a few cm water. When the plants are ready to go to seed, the fields are left to dry out and the rice will ripen. Then it will be harvested.
Now we know why cashews are so expensive! They grow like a bean shaped projection on a soft fruit. The fruit is edible but very astringent – but the beans are taken off the fruit and dried in a kiln which takes the toxic substance out of the nut. Then it is shelled and can be eaten.
Most of the processing is done in Java. No processing plants have been built in Flores. The roads here and other forms of transport, electricity and other necessities for factories do not exist here.
We were welcomed into the local village by the school children and then we had lunch provided by the local version of the CWA. The food is very gluggy and starchy. Mostly potato like – cassava, tapioca, and fish.
On the local beach we looked at a boat being built as a flock of goats trotted past.
The next day's trip was to take one of the local boats, a wooden long boat with a single cylinder diesel engine, to see komodo dragons and to go snorkelling in the 17 island marine park. We saw a colony of bats. Then walked uphill to a hide to sit and wait for a dragon to come and take the supplied dead goat. We waited 45 minutes behind a grass fence, but there was no sign of dragons. There were several dehydrated goat carcasses there. I think that they had enough food, and weren't interested in performing for a load of foreign tourists.
From here we had a very wet ride to one of the islands to have lunch and go snorkelling.
It was a great day, even though we did not see a dragon.
We feel very privileged to have the welcome extended to us that we have – no other tourists get this I'm sure.