After two weeks in Bali we were ready to explore a new island. We headed to Flores to see the stunning Kelimutu crater lakes, to see Komodo dragons and to do another road trip not knowing what to expect.
The flight in pictures
It’s always so cool looking down from an airplane to the geography below. I guess it’s why Google Earth is so popular. Wish what we were looking at while we were on the plane also had the location icon and name – ha! Someone needs to make an app for that, just like the app for identifying constellations and stars in the night sky…
The road from Ende to Moni
At Ende airport, we were met by a driver from the guesthouse we were staying at in Moni village, which is about an hour and a half away by car. Moni is the village closest to Kelimutu. Our first impression of Flores? It was rugged, raw, jungly, with sheer cliffs jutting out from either side of the road. So different to Bali.
Many people in Flores are nominally Catholic. They blend their belief in Christ with traditions based on ancestor worship, animism and nature. Living alongside this is Islam. In each town we’ve stayed at in Flores, you’ll hear the call to prayer a few times a day and women and girls wearing hijabs. Regardless of religion, the people of Flores are friendly and welcoming.
We had an interesting conversation with Robert at Palm Bungalows where we were staying in Moni. He explained that according to the local laws and culture, he inherited the land we were on from his father because he was the first-born son. The problem is, Robert has three daughters. His eldest daughter is attending school in Java. He said his wife didn’t want more children but this puts him in a bind…
When he dies, it has to go to his first-born son. Since he doesn’t have one, it would go to his brother – except he doesn’t have one, he has sisters. He was saying that if it went to one of his sisters, then that would rock the boat of established practice. And either way, this would leave his wife and daughters without any property.
He said traditionally, men in this situation will get a second wife and try for a son. Now, Robert is not young. He looks about 50. Maybe that’s because he constantly has a lit kretek in his hand. He wishes he weren’t in this predicament and he isn’t quite sure what he’ll do but is tending towards the second wife option.
He also mentioned that in Flores’s Ngada traditional villages – where we’ll be visiting next during our road trip – a maternal culture is practiced where women inherit and pass down the land to daughters.
Kelimutu crater lakes at sunrise
Onwards from Kelimutu
After an early morning rise to see the crater lakes of Kelimutu, we hit the road. It’s about 390km from Ende to Labuan Bajo, and if you drove it all in one go it would take 12 hours. We hired the nephew of the guesthouse we stayed at to drive us from Ende to Labuan Bajo over 4 days, with stops at tourist attractions along the way. It cost us $100 a day but worth it as the roads were very twisty, steep, and unmarked.