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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

August 14 & 15, 2012 – Lewoleba, Lembata (Indonesia) Welcome Ceremony

Tuesday: As I was brushing my teeth this morning I commented to Frank that our water tastes salty. He tested it. Not good – it came out 800 PPM. It should be closer to 100 – 200. We had to empty the tanks – thankfully they were only half full (around 150 gallons), so we decided to wash the boat. We needed to rinse the ash off anyway. Finishing that he went to work troubleshooting the watermaker. We have a creeping feeling there is a problem with one of the membranes. After tinkering around with it for a good while we shot over to Renegade to discuss the matter with Peter before heading in to shore for lunch. Peter and Evelyn have gutted and refitted several yachts and built their own from scratch, and are our resident experts. Russell and Christine (from s/v Christine Anne) were there and so we joined the audience as they conveyed their volcano hike experience from that morning. Without going into it – it was not a good one and one that they do not recommend. Glad we didn't get up at 2:30 AM! Peter and Frank discussed our problem and Peter gave us some diagnostic homework to do and then we went to shore where Frank and I visited our favorite new restaurant for Nasi Goreng – at the equivalent of $1.50 each. We love this country!

At 2 PM, beautifully costumed villagers began arriving for the welcome show. We yachties were corralled into a fenced off area. Two token cruisers were chosen to be our representative dignitaries and to receive the ceremonial welcome from Lembata's Regent. Although they were presented lovely Ikat robes/skirts and a big fuss was made over them, Frank and I were happy not to have been chosen when we saw that they were also expected to chew betel nuts. UGH! BARF! They bravely chewed and then spat out the red juice, saying it was one of the bitterest tastes ever. We then followed in a procession to the covered seating area and were treated to welcome speeches and impressive dance and musical performances. Shortly afterward, we were directed to join in the parade into town behind all of the costumed locals and dignitaries. People lined the streets, took photos and cheered as we passed by. I commented to Dana,that the circus has come to town and we are it!  One local after another grabbed at Walker (her very white, blue-eyed, blond haired baby), as though he was for sale. We were paraded into the town square where one after another of the townspeople posed with Frank and I for pictures, then put their babies upon us and posed beside us for more, giggling their hearts out. We were the freak show. Poor Dana and Mark had it far worse with people literally grabbing at baby Walker, pinching him and rubbing their hands all over him. Finally it was too much, and as the main group gathered in a circle to teach us the local dances we slipped away heading back to the welcome tent at the anchorage. We realize this is a huge treat for them hosting all these white people in their city, and although we appreciate all of the ardor and attention, it is difficult to take the grabbing and touching without any regard for our personal space.

By the time the festivities had moved back to the waterfront, beautifully adorned tables and chairs had been arranged for us. Once seated, the entertainment began in earnest. This event truly was the best culture show so far. They pulled out all the stops. Several villages were represented with their dances, costumes & performances that told stories - such as hunting, fishing, fighting, etc. The music and singing was so good. Then they did a demo accompanied by songs and music of how they take the raw product from the trees and make it into thread, dying it and then weaving it into the cloth that is known as Ikat.. Seriously this was an outstanding event far surpassing Alor and Kupang. The food was prepared fresh right there and very tasty. It was a wonderful event. We returned home happy and exhausted.

1 comment:

Debbie Whiteaker said...

Great writing Barbara, very enjoyable reading :-)