Indonesia: Expedition in Forgotten Lands by the Iris Foundation
IN WHICH IT WAS LITTLE LITTLE THAT FRANÇOISE LOSES THE SKIN
We hiked north all night (a 15 hour crossing). It was moving in all directions and the crunches of the boat were impressive! In the early morning we can see the earth in the distance, the sky is gray. The opportunity to catch up on sleep until 9 a.m.
We land on the small island of Bimba. The ferry only passes once a week to this remote island, south of Sulawesi, and it should not see many tourists passing by. In the first village on the west coast, called Tanjung, the children welcome us, at first shy. These inhabitants of the Bajo ethnic group live in colorful houses on stilts.
At each house in front of which we pass we are offered tea and cakes, it is the tradition for visitors on “Lebaran” day where, after ten days of national holidays, everyone returns to their home village to celebrate the end of family ramadan.
We progress in the village among the children and the population who look at us with as much wonder and curiosity as we look at them. A concrete path takes us through the forest on the other side of the island to another village.
At the top of the hill on the way, a flock of little girls play princesses in pink dresses on the occasion of the celebration marking the end of Ramadan.
We meet banana trees and cashew trees carrying very beautiful cashew nuts. Françoise takes this fruit and begins to peel it, an oil comes out, there is the dark colored seed inside. Thomas and another man in the village informs him that this product is extremely toxic, it burns the skin and gives blisters. Bad surprise ... Quickly water, sun oil (everything we find) to clean up. A little further a woman gives soap and everything comes back to normal ... Françoise will not leave her skin there, phew!
The Forbidden fruit !!
At the bottom of the hill, we come to another village of 300 inhabitants called Bimba like the island, well kept, with beautiful houses lined up along a cemented raised street and a gutter (probably very useful during the monsoon). There are many wells between the houses, where women wash in sarongs. Their hair and face are coated with grated coconut as a cosmetic.
If some houses are still on stilts, all made of wood, none have been located on the sea since the government banned it following typhoons and tidal waves in recent years. The wood is prettier, but less durable (termites and severe monsoon) and has become more expensive. We buy two live ducks (ducks), which will be killed, scalded then plucked by Yaani our cook, and which we will eat the same evening.
The afternoon is still gloomy. We are going on an excursion to another part of the island. Thomas leaves with Françoise in search of potentially interesting bamboo species because the coastline seems wild. He finds a grove of thorny bamboos: a bushy base, some short branches of which are transformed into thorns. In the center of the big canes are more than 15 m high.
The others collect litter from the beach to make a large square photographed by Jacques. It is mainly floating waste, in order of frequency: flip flops, plastic bottles, polystyrene, plastic bags, pharmaceutical and cosmetic bottles, lighters, cigarette filters, a few syringes, a few barrette-type objects, combs, a backpack ... And this is just the tip of the iceberg! Litter will be collected and brought back on board.
The incident night: the boat touches the coral bottom because the wind and the current make the boat turn around its anchor. At the second incident, we weigh anchor and sail towards Pulasi (5 hours of navigation).
Arrival around 7 am in front of the Pulasi island, green with palm trees, coconut palms and other superb vegetation. Very nice weather this morning. We disembark around 9 am on the white sand. A family is installed under the coconut palms harvesting the coconuts.
A very agile man climbs along a coconut palm tree to the top to take down the nuts. Be careful because they fall like bombs on the ground but without exploding. The climbing technique: the man protects his torso with a leather apron (well patinated), he knots a rope between his two feet in eight and starts the ascent by first placing his hands on the trunk then very quickly in under his feet and the rope surrounding the tree. He unfolds his legs and folds them up and so on to the top to reach the fruits and palms. He cuts around ten nuts per tree.
A coconut forest
We sit for a few moments in the cool under stilts with a granny, children around a swing, a mom and her baby ... A bunch of coconut bark and bundles of wood are stored, tidy, very clean . Not far away are the very simple tombs: a rectangle of earth surrounded by small stones (80 x 130cm) with in the center a wooden pillar carved from 50 to 60 cm high. The village is peaceful.
Kids are cycling. Three or four carts full of bricks from the brickyard at the end of the island move forward pushed by the father and the son often. They watch us go by with a smile.
Agus and the crew left ashore to prepare a barbecue on the beach for dinner. A big fire has been prepared on the side, we light it after our meal. It is a magnificent bonfire, huge, very impressive. Jonathan plays music for us and Jean-Marie starts a sioux dance around the flames !!!
Jonathan introduces us to a dance, the crew joined us for this beautiful party, very happy evening. We take care to extinguish the fire with sand and sea water.