I'm really tired as I write this so I hope it makes sense…
Last night at 7 PM, large buses arrived to transport us to the Regent's house and grounds for a gala celebration and dinner. We have been led to understand the Regent is the governor. After being seated at the banquet tables the Regent and his Lieutenant arrived and stopped at every table to shake each individual's hand formally welcoming us. This was followed by the appearance of a string of dignitaries and their spouses. After all were seated speeches were made and translated for us. Beautiful dancers graced the stage and then came music and singing and more dancers. The highlight was a fashion show by some of our very own rally members. Several couples had been selected to dress in formal regional costumes and were then brought out on stage to model for us. They all looked so beautiful – men and women alike.
Eventually, as we began to shift in our seats trying to inconspicuously check the time, dinner was announced. As with the previous banquets this was a buffet but on a much larger scale with an overwhelming selection of foods. We were strongly encouraged to put a little of everything onto our plates. We thought the food was delicious. Dessert was a plate full of bananas. We need to teach these Indonesians about dessert. After we finished the meal we were called up to the stage in small groups and presented with shopping bags of gifts, including yet another lovely and colorful scarf. Then we returned to the stage in small groups to have our pictures taken with the dignitaries. As we were photographed and videotaped (again), we wondered where all these pictures and videos are going. We may never know. The night ended way past "cruisers midnight", yet it was a great evening.
Today we went on the Takpala Tour first stopping at the Museum where the most impressive exhibits were the Mokos drums and the woven tapestries and scarves. Then we were off to the Kadelang Market where several of us loaded up on very fresh and inexpensive fruits, and vegetables. The big-ticket item on today's agenda however was a trip inland to the traditional Takpala Village where the Abui Tribe's people live. They dressed in traditional ceremonial garb and performed ritualistic dances relating to various tribal events. I personally enjoyed the chanting and singing. We were all invited to join one of the traditional dances and then afterward were served a boxed Indonesian lunch inside one of the huts. Following lunch we were encouraged to browse the handcrafted goods the villagers had displayed for us. Frank and I opted out of purchasing anything. We need to pace ourselves a bit because there are many more such events in the upcoming months, and a lot of stops to make along the way.