Indonesia: Expedition in Forgotten Lands by the Iris Foundation

 

EPISODE 13

 

WHERE WE DISCOVER GIANT BLOCKS IN THE GARDEN OF EDEN

 

 

Carnet de voyage du photographe Jacques Bravo dans les peties iles de la sonde en Indonésie. Ile de Savu

August 3

The boat is adorned by the whole crew with small flags in preparation for the national holiday. Finally the crossing from Timor to Savu did not last 18 hours as planned, but only 13 hours because the currents were favorable. We arrive in front of the small port of Seba around seven in the morning. The fleet is quite large compared to the other small ports we have visited.

Ile de Savu, Port de Seba-Ile de Savu, Marché de Seba-Ile de Savu-Indonesie-Jacques Bravo
Ile de Savu, Port de Seba-Ile de Savu, Marché de Seba-Ile de Savu-Indonesie-Jacques Bravo
Ile de Savu, Port de Seba-Ile de Savu, Marché de Seba-Ile de Savu-Indonesie-Jacques Bravo

The coast is covered with Lontar (Borassus palm) rather than coconut palms and it is very important for the local economy.

This is the island where men must know how to climb the Lontar palm trees to be able to get married.

Ile de Savu, récolte palmier-Ile de Savu, Marché de Seba-Ile de Savu-Indonesie-Jacques Bravo
Ile de Savu, récolte palmier-Ile de Savu, Marché de Seba-Ile de Savu-Indonesie-Jacques Bravo
Ile de Savu, récolte palmier-Ile de Savu, Marché de Seba-Ile de Savu-Indonesie-Jacques Bravo

Here the sap is sweeter than that of Timor after Agus. With this sap we make wine, sugar, and arak. With palms we make roofs and baskets. With the petioles we make walls and barriers. With the trunks we make buildings, frames and furniture. The island is fairly flat and seems more cultivated even up the hills.

Ile de Savu, Marché de Seba-Ile de Savu-Indonesie-Jacques Bravo
Ile de Savu, Marché de Seba-Ile de Savu-Indonesie-Jacques Bravo
Ile de Savu, Marché de Seba-Ile de Savu-Indonesie-Jacques Bravo
Ile de Savu, Marché de Seba-Ile de Savu-Indonesie-Jacques Bravo
Ile de Savu, Marché de Seba--14.jpg
Ile_de_Savu,_Marché_de_Seba-Ile de Savu, -Indonesie-Jacques Bravo

In the morning, some go to the market in the small town of Seba. In the afternoon we all go in biscayu to discover the center of the island. The fields are very dry and there is only one rice crop per year. There is rain only from November to January. Animals graze on cut stubble, goats, cows, pigs and even small horses are skinny. When we ask the villagers to cut us a coconut and we give the rest to the dogs they are hungry for this water.

The whole island is anthropized. Where there are trees they are planted: sal (Shorea robusta), white teak (yellow flowers), Sterculias, tamarins, coconut palms, "laurels". For the bushes there are Jatropha gossypifolia which are not browsed, just like very thorny Acacias (yellow pompoms), also thorny Zysiphus, Lantanas, Red Flame Acacias. Below there are green patches along a canal: these are shallots that grow after the rice. There are also gardens around a dam. Downstream there is an irrigation system but upstream the water is drawn with 2 buckets which are carried on a hoist made of Lontar petioles.

Ile de Savu, Marileba-Indonesie-Jacques Bravo
Ile de Savu, Marileba-Indonesie-Jacques Bravo
Ile de Savu, Marileba-Indonesie-Jacques Bravo
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Ile de Savu, Marileba-Indonesie-Jacques Bravo
Ile de Savu, Marileba--18.jpg
Ile de Savu-Indonesie-Jacques Bravo

The human type is, as in Timor, thinner and Asian, less Papuan. The hair is smoother, the jaws less powerful and the bodies much smaller ... The less abundant nutrition may also be involved. Often next to the house with the tin roof there is the house with a large thatched roof: it seems that the new constructions are not all adopted. But children's T-shirts all refer to football everywhere, even in the depths of a lost island in Indonesia.

Ile de Savu, Marileba-Ile de Savu-Indonesie-Jacques Bravo
Ile de Savu, Marileba-Ile de Savu-Indonesie-Jacques Bravo
Ile de Savu, Marileba-Ile de Savu-Indonesie-Jacques Bravo

August 4

On the way in biscayu towards the beach of Pantasemara in the east, where there was on the map a star with writing "Garden of Eden".

We stop in front of the school of which our English-speaking guide is the director. There is the rehearsal of the marching band preparing for the great Indonesian Independence Day. Our presence is an event. The air is quite military but there are some flourishes and the whole of this young assembly is very friendly and welcoming as usual. There is a giant drum which makes the clown with new figures: it holds its drum between the teeth. Grand finale with a human pyramid.

Ile_de_Savu,_fanfare_école_de_Seba-Ile de Savu-Indonesie-Jacques Bravo

We hit the road. It is under construction with lots of dust because the ground is a white coral limestone; there are some earthy, rust-colored areas. In the widened river beds there are rice plantations, the second of the year. The green of the young shoots contrasts with the dryness of the rest of the season.

Ile de Savu, rizières-Ile de Savu-Indonesie-Jacques Bravo

We hit the road. It is under construction with lots of dust because the ground is a white coral limestone; there are some earthy, rust-colored areas. In the widened river beds there are rice plantations, the second of the year. The green of the young shoots contrasts with the dryness of the rest of the season.

Ile de Savu, rizières-Ile de Savu-Indonesie-Jacques Bravo

On the side of the road the trees are cut down to make a drainage channel necessary at the time of the monsoon. Without trees the road will be even warmer! A new construction, enclosed by walls stands in the middle of nowhere: a resort for government meetings. At a random moment, we take a path on the left. Traditional rural habitat, the soil is very stony and it is of stone from generation to generation to release roughly flat grounds, surrounded by walls of these dry stones (lace wall as in Ireland). Corn-bean fields are delivered to goats after harvest. After a few kilometers we enter a sparse, dry, semi-deciduous forest, which seems natural.

After a quarter of an hour of walking we arrive at the beach where there are some fishing boats is a shelter with nets, and drying boards for algae. We also discover the incredible mini-salines made with giant clams filled with sea water.

Ile_de_Savu,_sel_de_bénitier_du_jardin_Ile de Savu-Indonesie-Jacques Bravo
Ile_de_Savu,_sel_de_bénitier_Ile de Savu-Indonesie-Jacques Bravo
Ile_de_Savu,_sel_de_bénitier_Ile de Savu-Indonesie-Jacques Bravo
Ile_de_Savu,_sel_de_bénitier_Ile de Savu-Indonesie-Jacques Bravo
Ile_de_Savu,_sel_de_bénitier_Ile de Savu-Indonesie-Jacques Bravo

We visit the megalithic village of Kujiratu. It is surrounded by a wall of coral stones with entrance portals made of megaliths. At the entrance and in the center of the village are monumental Sterculias . At the foot of the latter are stone slabs and stelae used for various rituals taking place on the occasion of births, deaths and marriages, and to treat certain diseases due to negative behavior. Not far from the houses are fairly old or recent tombs. The houses with the large palm roof and the carved solid wood wall are very beautiful and elaborate

Ile de Savu, Village megalithique-Ile de Savu-Indonesie-Jacques Bravo
Ile de Savu, Village megalithique-Ile de Savu-Indonesie-Jacques Bravo

One enters one of them or children laugh well in front of a television program. When we arrive they stop the sound. The floor and the rest are very solid Lontar wood. There is a room for the girls, a room for the boys (big mess) and a room for the parents, the interior kitchen space is only used in monsoon period, and upstairs is an attic. Elsewhere we find the community house, where the old people find themselves pounding their betel because they no longer have teeth to chew on. It is a huge palm roof on which are hung many baskets and many plaited palm plates. The 50 people from the village and those from the surrounding area gather there for the holidays. Beside, I admire a house under construction: the frame is started. Boards are cut directly from the trunks with a chainsaw type saw. Everything is tailor-made to the millimeter.

Ile de Savu, Village megalithique-Ile de Savu-Indonesie-Jacques Bravo
Ile de Savu, Village megalithique-Ile de Savu-Indonesie-Jacques Bravo

On the way back we stop in a house where the palm sugar is harvested. The flexible and humble climber-harvester does his job with perfect science. He wears a rope belt at the back of which is a magnificent buffalo horn carabiner. There will hang his basket full of sap. They also carry a very sharp knife to cut the floral stalk at each harvest. It also has a brush (crushed and frayed petiole) to clean the palm leaf harvest baskets which are attached to the peduncle, each one is covered with a braided lid to avoid insects, wasps and predators.

Ile de Savu, récolte palmier-Ile de Savu, Village megalithique-Ile de Savu-Indonesie-Jacques Bravo
Ile de Savu, récolte palmier-Ile de Savu, Village megalithique-Ile de Savu-Indonesie-Jacques Bravo
Ile de Savu, récolte palmier-Ile de Savu, Village megalithique-Ile de Savu-Indonesie-Jacques Bravo

Then we will go to the house of Moussa our local guide to get dressed in Ikats. The result is very nice for everyone. So ready we will settle in the biscayus where we will wait for a while without knowing what is going to happen. We think that there will be a photo session with dancers ... In fact a troop of traditional dancers arrives with big bells at the feet which punctuate the dance and the song. The dances are led by a very energetic professional dancer who is experienced in his art. We are quickly under the spell of this beautiful energy despite the incongruity of the place: it is a soccer field. At one point we are invited to join the troop. The session will end when Isabelle and Françoise are brought to the center like chicks by a dancer who plays rooster!

Ile de Savu, danse-Ile de Savu, Village megalithique-Ile de Savu-Indonesie-Jacques Bravo
Ile de Savu, danse-Ile de Savu, Village megalithique-Ile de Savu-Indonesie-Jacques Bravo
livre au premier matin du monde
Capture d’écran 2018-10-30 à 11.15.08.pn