Indonesia: Expedition in Forgotten Lands by the Iris Foundation

 

EPISODE 14

 

WHERE WE GO NEXT TO A HIDDEN TREASURE WORTH MORE THAN A BILLION ROUPIES

 

 

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

August 5

During the night, a serious swell makes us pitch funny. We arrive at 7am on the island of Sumba. We go directly to the port of Waingapu which is sheltered. Old boats, fishermen's canoes, ferry awaiting departure, cargo ships loading ...

Ile de Sumba,  port de Waingapu-Jacques Bravo
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Ile de Sumba,  port de Waingapu. Jacques Bravo

Beautiful fish market at the port. We are leaving downtown by motorbike taxis. Along the way we buy sates (skewers of meat) in small cabins along the road. The city does not have much character, its main artery is noisy and the houses are made of sheet metal, except for a few, which the care taken in the garden and the bright colors of the facades make touching.

Ile de Sumba,  port de Waingapu. Jacques Bravo

Then visit the market (spices, baskets, ikats ...), return to nightfall in bemo ...

The landing stage is an extremely slippery stone staircase!

 

August 6

Departure at 7 am for Manupeu Tanah Daru Park by super bus. The harbor steps are still as slippery. We climb on the hillsides above the city: it is a dry savannah where there are water problems, clearly. Along the road an old well has been preserved: it is still full of water and is used by the surrounding inhabitants. In contrast the valleys are more humid and lush and there are dams with rice fields in the wider valleys. The soil is often coral (white rock) but there are areas of black topsoil. Houses often have a large sheet metal roof cut in the same format as traditional roofs. The walls are often beautifully woven bamboo. The tombs are very large anvil-shaped vaults.

We arrive in the natural park. Our local guide not knowing much, tries to take a semblance of path but it is quickly stopped by the density of the vegetation, and being unable to use a machete, we quickly turn back. We will therefore be satisfied with the very rich roadsides where we will find many interesting species.

Ile de Sumba,region centre--5.jpg

We arrive in the natural park. Our local guide not knowing much, tries to take a semblance of path but it is quickly stopped by the density of the vegetation, and being unable to use a machete, we quickly turn back. We will therefore be satisfied with the very rich roadsides where we will find many interesting species.

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Ile de Sumba,  Manupeu Tanah Daru Nation
Ile de Sumba,  Manupeu Tanah Daru Nation
Ile de Sumba,  Manupeu Tanah Daru Nation
Ile de Sumba,  Manupeu Tanah Daru Nation
Ile de Sumba,  Manupeu Tanah Daru Nation

August 7

We drive east with our super minibus for two hours. And we still observe a striking contrast between the dry steppes on coral soil and green areas of rice fields or extensive mangroves. In the grassy steppes there are horses. We even saw some of them mounted in the city of Waingapu. The horse, a heritage of the Portuguese, is important on the island. It is on Sumba that there are Pasolas (horse tournaments which oppose riders from different villages) in February.

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In the megalithic village of Rende the houses are very very large, larger than in the other villages visited, moreover in general there are two doors and two or even four families live there. The huge roofs are in alang-alang or unfortunately in sheet metal. The dry ground is made of coral slabs. The graves sit in the middle of the village. These are amazing slab structures that look like huge coral stone dolmens. The extraction and transport of its stone slabs is difficult and dangerous. They come from the hill which overlooks the village. In 1926 an accident killed 60 people. Since then the government has banned extractions, and so has the area of concrete.

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Only the totems continue to be made of stone. They are amazingly sculpted with a whole bestiary. The crocodile symbolizes male wealth, the hen female wealth, the parrot the transmission and elevation of the spirit ...

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Orangutan sculpture

The oldest burial bears the sculpture of a crouching man. It represents the ancestor, an orangutan that existed in the surrounding forests, long ago, long ago. So they knew long before Darwin that man descends from the monkey!

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Going down towards the river we pass by a kind of cleverly stony garden. Giant ficus trees are venerated there and animal sacrifices still take place there. Picnic at the river at the foot of a huge flamboyant. An albino buffalo with inverted horns casually passes through the water. Mind-blowing vision!

We will learn later that in Sulawesi this “class” of buffaloes is one of the most sought after for sacrifices and costs up to 1 billion rupees!

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An hour later we visit the village of Pau . The houses are also huge with remarkable roofs. The burials are of the same type and the totems abound in animal symbols as well. What differs are some scenes carved on the funerary stelae of fields, weaving, or other human activities.

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Ile de Sumba, village de Pau
Ile de Sumba,  Manupeu Tanah Daru Nation

And it's the last evening!

Christophe has been preparing for several days a very nice short film of a few minutes. The Royal Fortuna crew and the Iris team warmly applaud.

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