Indonesia: Expedition in Forgotten Lands by the Iris Foundation
IN WHICH YOU FIND FACING A TRIBE ON THE FOOT OF WAR
August 1, 2015
In the early morning we sink into the amazing channel leading to Kalabahi. We slide on ultra calm water along the island of Alor to reach the port of Kalabahi. Curious triangular structures placed on the water are used for static lamparo fishing. A sea eagle and a few terns fly quickly over us. On each side of the channel the islands are inhabited.
On arrival in the port, the locals on the quay watch us finish our breakfast: this time the roles are reversed.
We are going to the market. We are looking for fresh fish for sushi. There are pretty herring and marlin. Agus will later find tuna which he will prepare in a marinade with green mango and lemon juice. The local guide tells me about an interesting traditional salad: papaya flowers, banana flowers, green papaya, cassava leaves. Agus buys the ingredients and he will make us this “bizarre” salad, the second of its kind, after the seaweed salad.
The market is rich in vegetables and fruits but much less in fish. Besides, last night there were no fish caught by the 10 fishermen in the harbor of Pantar! Where did the fish go?
The city is quite large. We take, with our local guides, a mini-bus half an hour to go to the village of Takpala, type “heritage village” of the Abui ethnic group. The traditional houses are beautiful, made of wood assembled with pegs and ropes; large very sloping and covering roofs are made of Alang-Alang grass. Five families still live there, and show tourists their way of life. The others live in the surrounding villages but they all come back for the traditional festivals and they gather there to eat and dance. There are two small special houses which carry flags for the festivals: black flag for the Moslem food, without pork, the other with the white flag for the Christians, because everyone is invited to the traditional festivals.
The animist origin is common to all! It seems that today there are 70% of Christians on the island and 30% of Muslims, it seems rather to us that it would be 50/50.
The large houses on stilts have four levels. The first level, open, is the place of common life where we are received. A second level, under the roof, is that of cooking and living together during the monsoons. A third is the granary, and a fourth or the Moko bronze drum and large cymbals are kept.
Musical instruments are important for parties and very precious. Indeed a Moko is the dowry essential for the marriage of young girls.
Three social classes are defined in a hereditary manner: the class of kings, that of warriors, and that of mediators. One of them gives us a magnificent demonstration in warrior attire with his bow, shield and arrows. Each arrow is intended for a particular prey: deer, pig, or even human. 100 years earlier, the clans were still at war. Today they practice bow hunting.
Il y a des femmes qui vendent des petits paniers, des petits bijoux, des ikats... L’une d’entre elles écrasent des baies de café au mortier.