On Day 19 we headed off from Bajawa towards Aimere and Ruteng to see arak being made, the “hobbit” cave, and spiderweb rice terraces. On the way, a man was chopping up this tree that fell across the road. Thank goodness he’d already cleared enough for us to pass when we got there.
Tea with a view in Aimere
How arak is made
Arak is Indonesia’s moonshine. It’s illegally made all over the country from different sources including coconut. In Flores, it’s made from palm trees.
According to the FloresPlus website, “To make the Arak, men would climb the Lontar Palm and flatten its fruits. The juice from the fruit would then drip into a bucket and after 6 days the liquid will drip into a bamboo pipe before going into a water bottle. This process takes about 6 days using different ‘drips’. The result for each would vary, giving you Arak with different volumes of alcohol.”
Staying at a convent in Ruteng
All over Flores, there were mosques alongside Catholic churches. We heard the Islamic call to prayer a few times a day all over Indonesia. We stayed at a Catholic convent in Ruteng. To stay there, you had to be a married couple. Lucky for us then.
From Ruteng we headed towards Liang Bua cave where they found the remains of two “hobbit” people, aka Homo floresiensis.
Liang Bua cave and Homo floresiensis
Located at Liang Bua is the limestone cave where two “hobbit” people, aka Homo floresiensis, were discovered in 2003 by Mike Northwood, an Australian professor of anthropology. They’re nicknamed hobbits because at 115cm in height, they’re only the size of a child.
“Dr. Norwood and others have shown that this human existed as recently as 12,000 years ago, possibly putting this species in contact with local homo sapiens. What makes H. floresiensis so remarkable is that they accomplished the same things as their larger H. sapiens cousins, such as making fire and hunting in cooperation with each other, while being less than four feet tall and having brains approximately one-half to one-third of the size of H. sapiens.” From Atlas Obscura.
Spiderweb rice fields at Cancar
Just outside of Ruteng, in Cancar, are these magnificent rice fields divided into plots that make them look like giant spiderwebs. They were created this way by indigenous Manggarai people many years ago. We had to hike up many stairs to get to the viewpoint, which charged a nominal fee.
Back on the road
Here’s what we saw as we got back on the road towards Labuan Bajo.