It was still rainy season, right in the middle of March. A friend of mine arrived from Aceh. Her name is Cordula. She spent six days around Bajawa. One day I asked her, “Are you interested in trekking?”
“Yes, but to where? And how many hours from here," she asked.
And I said, “I don’t really know how long, but I heard from my father. He says that there is a village - very nice and very traditional - and I just know it might take one day from here. But if you like we can go there.”
She said, “How? Do you know the way to get there?”
“Well, I don’t know, but maybe we can ask people for the route and how to get there.
And she liked the idea, and said, “OK, let’s do it tomorrow then.”
Next day we started searching for information. We went to one village to ask people how to get there, but we couldn’t find people who could take us there, because it was raining and they were working - it’s working season for them. We just asked them how to get there and how long it takes us, but we couldn’t find good information at the time. Some said five hours and some said seven hours and some people said it might take us a day. We were confused, but I still wanted to go to the village and my friend did too.
The time was 09.00 in the morning, with a little rain at the time. We decided to set off and we started walking from the village at which we had asked people before for help. It was one hour for us to the top of the hill, which is on the way to the village we hoped to find. From the top of that hill there were great views around, even though there was still a little bit of rain.
After that we had to enter the jungle and pass through dense rainforest. It was more difficult than we thought. Around three hours later we finally came out of the jungle and there were some gardens of the people from the same village from which we got the information before. We took time to meet people there and talk to them, and they gave us some boiled corn and some vegetables from them. We ate together with them. It was a good time.
The rain and the cloud still hadn’t stopped and we still have to walk for more than three and a half or four hours. But we just don’t know which way to go and how long it would take to get there. The local people started to point us in the direction, but then some of them said, “It’s still very difficult for you, because you don’t know the way and the direction and there are many paths too, so it will confuse you. Maybe you will miss the path.”
I was just thinking of turning back, because I didn’t want to take the risk, but my friend said, “William, we are already far away from home. How about if we ask one of them to take us there.” I said, “OK then.” So I started to ask them to help us.
It was almost . The rain still had not stopped and the cloud kept coming. We hired one man called Leo to take us there. It was difficult; it was slippery and muddy along the path. I was getting tired and my friend could not carry her bag anymore, so I asked the man to help her. For the next two hours my friend struggled to talk and was tired, but I helped her and held her hand and just made sure that she walked slowly. She was crying and wet, but the man said it was around two more hours.
We walked up and down, through the jungle, and finally at long last we arrived in the village. It was dark. We just didn’t know where to stay and were very tired and hungry and wet. We had no idea at the time and I didn’t know anybody there. First we met an old woman and Leo asked if we could stay in her house. But she was so afraid of us, she said that we have to go down to the kepala desa (village head) to report ourselves. As we walked down into the village she called out to all the people to warn them that we were entering. Many, many people were afraid to see us and to meet us, because it reminded them of Dutch colonial times. They thought that if a tourist was coming to the village, the tourist would kill all of them. So they closed up their houses and they even turned off the lights.
So I had to shout out and call them and explain them that we are not colonials. We just wanted to see the village and we wanted to sleep there that night. They said, “Who are you?” I said, “I am William, coming from the village up there and I can speak the local language here. Please don’t worry about us.” But they were still confused. “Why is this tourist coming from the jungle? Why aren’t they coming from the coast to here? That path is so much easier!”
I talked to all of them and tried to make them understand. Suddenly one man came up to us and he knew me. So he then had to shout out to everyone else that he knows me and that they should not worry about us. After that, everyone just went home and we were invited by this man to his house.
The man sacrificed a chicken in the local way to introduce us to his ancestors and because that is the way welcome their guests. We spent time just with that family. We ate dinner with them until late in the night. I knew they were worrying to themselves about where we would sleep. “Do they sleep together or separate?” I had to explain to them to that we were just friends, but it’s no problem to sleep in one room. It was unusual for them. But I was very tired and also Cordula, so we just decided to sleep as long as we could. There were no mattresses in the room, just very thin mats and we had to share one big pillow. It was a bit difficult for me too, because it’s unusual for me, but we made it!
It was around the next morning. The people were already awake and some of them were already busy. There was a big clamour coming from the front of the house where we stayed overnight. My friend woke me up. “William, can you hear that? Do you understand what they are talking about?” And I slowly opened my eyes and tried to listen to what they were talking about. It was funny – they were talking about how a tourist was sleeping in the same room as a local man and they were making really noisy in front of the house. My friend went outside and said, “Selamat pagi!” They were so surprised about her. They say, “Oh my god, the tourist has beautiful skin, long nose and is pure white.” I could not stop laughing!
We had morning coffee with the owner of the house and we ate some taro. An hour later they all come up to us, shook our hands and said they were very happy we were there. Then, the woman who didn’t let us in her house also came over. She said she was so sorry. “It’s ok, no problem,” I told her. But she asked if we would mind coming to her house for food. I said we had just eaten breakfast so instead she asked us, “Please, just come for coffee, if you wouldn’t mind.”
We went to her house and all the villagers followed, having coffee with us. After that we went back to the house we stayed at, and ate food again. A lot of food! We stayed several more hours.
Later we started to walk down to the beach, which we knew was around three hours. The walk was not difficult and the villagers helped us carrying our bags, right down to the beach. There we said goodbye to them, and they were happy and asked us to take photos. To finish our adventure, we drove by motorbike to a place where people make arak from palm fruit to see the process and then drove back to Bajawa.