Indonesia: Expedition in Forgotten Lands by the Iris Foundation
WHERE WE COAST THE SPIRITS OF THE DEAD
AS GOOD AS LOCAL TOURISTS WITH THEIR POLE IN SELFIE
July 26, 2015
We get up again at 4.30 am at night and we leave around 5.30 am in a biskayu to go and discover the mythical volcano from Kelimutu to Florès. As we move forward, the villagers stand up and appear along the road bundled up in their ikats. It is quite cold because we are climbing aloft. We meet many Christian graves at the roadside in front of the house, the vast majority of the population being Catholic, a heritage of the Portuguese missions.
Lots of rice fields and bamboo forests but we keep the stops for the return because we want to reach Kelimutu before the clouds rise. We arrive at Kelimutu National Park around 7:30 am / 8 am, the temperature is really cool.
The last hundreds of meters are arranged in staircases which lead to an altitude of 1641 meters, at the edges of the craters where the glance plunges on the three fabulous lakes of the Kelimutu volcano. Their changing colors reflect the moods of the underground gods (in other words, the chemical composition of the minerals dissolved in the acids fluctuate over time). That day they were all three green: emerald green, celadon green and bottle green Other days they could turn blue, brown, ocher, and even black… Yellow fumaroles run in tatters and play with cloud shadows and sunshine on the surfaces of green acids.
Some legends, which this animist country abounds because all nature is spirit, say that it is the spirits of the dead who are manifested there.
After passing through the lake gate guarded by the spirit of an old sage, the spirits of the dead are divided into the 3 lakes: the evil spirits in one, those of the elders and the wise in another, and those children and women in the third. The place is sacred and people come to pray there during the deaths. Indonesian tourists always in a good mood and smiling have fun taking pictures of us with them. We do the same.
We feel the freshness of the altitude and the vegetation is very different. Casuarina with corky trunks resemble pine trees from a distance, Vaccinium varengefolium are reminiscent of blueberries, and rhododendrons accentuate the mountain aspect of the vegetation. The marked presence of tree ferns ( Cyathea ) is reminiscent of tropical latitudes.
We visit the arboretum. We find the famous banana ginger and the endemic Begonia Kelimutuensis (found by Patrick Blanc). At the entrance of the park we quickly visit the small herbarium very undermined by vermin.
Picnic near a beautiful waterfall with lush vegetation. Jumping kids have fun in the bowls of the river.
On the way back, the wide valleys are cultivated with rice fields in water. For the second season, the tender green mother rice fields give the strands to transplant for the female rice fields. The terraces are skillfully irrigated with coconut trees that punctuate.
The narrower and higher valleys, or slopes, are cultivated with mandarin orchards, coffee, cocoa, bananas, squash, beans, all in forest-garden. Sugar palm trees ( Arenga ), tamarind trees and Moluccan or macadamia nuts form the tree layer. The latter are present everywhere, in villages as well as in remote areas. We cross large areas covered with bamboo.
Thomas finds a thorny bamboo that he will look at from all angles. It is undoubtedly still a different species from that seen in Komodo. The sheath atria are poorly developed, the hairs are blond and the thorns are branched: a new species? The future will tell.