Chasing Waterfalls

Trip Start Mar 26, 2009
Trip End Jul 18, 2011

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Friday, January 14, 2011

Early start today as we had made some proper plans to get to a waterfall and didn't want to have to yet again turn around due to the weather. The waterfall was over on the far east of the island and could be reached by pretty much the same way that we had took the day before. So it was back to the centre and on the main road that connected the east to the west. Everything went smoothly, even after turning off into the unpredictable back roads we managed to hit the main villages that were marked on the map and led us to the village of Tetubatu . Once there we followed the hand painted sign that pointed toward the water fall. This took us up a dirt track that started to incline severely and got to the point were elena had to get off as things were getting a little wobbly and we didn't want to tempt fate of an inevitable fall. We followed the track for about 10 minutes until we rounded a corner and two guys who stood by the side of the road gestured for us to stop and explained that this was the start of the route to reach the two waterfalls in the village. We paid one of the guys to guide us, Dani; a local to the village, and set off down a track towards a mass of paddy fields.

The route led us around, above and through many rice fields that were all being worked. I have not yet been that close to the plant and found it all quite curious, for some reason i always assumed that it was the root of the plant that was eaten but its the actual leafs. It produces a form that is not too dissimilar to wheat and is ready to harvest when it begins to turn a yellowish brown. Once it has all been collected it must be separated from the bud and left to be dried out, once completed it takes on the form that we are used to seeing in packets on the shelf. There was masses of the stuff, in varied stages of the process and of different types from black to long grain. We were also showed and explained about the other types of plants that grew in the area, including sugar, bananas, vanilla and tobaccos which was dried out in large brick buildings and exported overseas. We were led through some of the more remote houses of the village which were traditionally built of bamboo and leafs where we were invited to have a look inside. There were two buildings in the one that we were shown, one being for living and the other for cooking. From having a peep inside it all seemed very surreal, with all the utensils being made shaped metal that had been lashed together with the bamboo along with a coal stove on which some of the fruits we had been shown earlier on the walk were bubbling in a pot. We were asked to try them as they produced a goo that was taken as a substitute to coffee. It was almost like honey, a light rich syrup that was very sweet to taste, almost too sweet but very tasty all the same. From there we continued though the many fields of where we came to another little village of where all the Muslim children were arriving home from their morning studies. As always we became the subject of all their interest and they surrounded us with the usual chant of "hello mister" and then asked us to take photos of which they were more than happy to pose for. After this we continued for a while until we arrived at the house of Dani, and were introduced to his wife. She was out in the garden stripping some kind of leaf of which i think was to be used for tying things together, there were chicken running around everywhere and rice laid out on a big woven sack for the families own consumption. She spoke no English at all, but gave us the usual big smile and offered us to try a sweat fruit from a large basket she had collected and was snacking on. It was very a hard round brown exterior which when opened had slimy little pieces inside almost like a nectarine and tasted like a mixture of pear and mango, very tasty. We were told that we would be returning there to take some tea but first we would see the waterfalls which were just a short walk from his house. We had to scaled a steep slope where some steps had been made in the dirt track using bamboo to keep their form as it grew all around us and we had to clamber through it to get to the river below. Once there it was shoes off as we had to walk up the river to reach the waterfalls at the end. They were about 15 metres in height and the second one was covered up as a recent storm had brought down one of the trees obscuring it from view. To be fair it was a bit of an anticlimax but the walk had easily outweighed any disappointment. On the way back up i was leading and had to a little of an about turn as there was a couple of village women washing naked in one of the streams that led down to the river, they probably would not have minded but its a little hard to gauge so we took an alternative route which turned out better anyway as i managed to get a cool photo of this local carried a huge bamboo which seemed far too big to not have him buckle under the weight, he put on his best face for the occasion anyway.

Back at Danis house we found out that we were not only to be drinking tea but eating with them as well. Inside the house we removed our shoes and sat on the floor around several dishes that had been prepared in the humble home which reminded me a bit of the places they put together in museams to show you how people lived in the early 20th century, with of course the Indonesian twist. In the corner was an old sewing machine, the kind that was powered by hitting constantly the large pedal underneath the table. This was a Muslim home and the few family photographs were of everyone, Dani, his wife and two children in traditional wear, there also hung a very old radio on the wall which must have been a form of entertainment for the evening. The food was a mixture of rice dishes, vegetables with chopped chillies and steamed bamboo which had a sweet potato like taste. We ate with the usual spoon and fork that westerns are given over here and Dani with his fingers, a very surreal experience. After lunch we Dani had to leave to go and pray and we were left with his wife trying to make some very animated conversation with the blockage of a common language for half an hour.

We had learned from Dani that there was another waterfall that we could visit not too far away which was 30 metres high and promised to be a little more spectacular than the previous two... didnt need to ask me twice, i was in. We bid a farewell to his wife, in which she made a gesture to which dani translated to us as “united”, and trailed him on the scooter in the 20 minute ride to the adjourning village. There was a fee to enter this one which was dubiously run by a women who was clearly on the take but i suppose you get that on the big jobs. It was a 3 km walk which mostly went up hill through jungle in which monkeys could be seen running out on the path in front of us. This led to a set of stone steps that led down to the base of the waterfall which again had to reached by climbing over some semi submerged boulders in the river at the base. This was much more what we were looking for although i must admit i was hoping it to be the one that i had seen in a magazine which seven different outlets but it seems that one was the one we had to give up on a few days before. This one however was a kind of ravine with a steady flow of water crashing down just a few feet away of us with all kind of creepers and jungle goodies all around us, not too shabby. We stuck around for a while to get some photos, cursing ourselves a little bit for not bringing some bathers for a swim and not quite being at that point in out relationship with Dani to all clamber in with the birthday suit as we had seen previously. Once we were done, we saw dani off on his way and began our way back to Sengiggi.

We were just a few km away from our hotel after the two hour ride back when we came across a large commotion in the road that was causing everything to come to a standstill. The traffic moved on sluggishly with us having the advantage to be able to weave through the cars until we were just shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the scooters where we realised what all the fuss was about. It was a local festival that had kicked off which involved a parade which walked boldly down the middle of the street. Dont worry about blocking any roads off or anything just let the good times roll! We soon found ourselves actually part of it as the traffic tried to get through it. So i had on one side a 30 man strong marching band all dressed in purple playing the rhythmic Asia tunes whilst on the other, several children were held aloft dressed in all forms of carnival outfits being carried aloft in a wooden carriage of Barong; the protective demon of Indonesia that keeps the bad spirits out. It was carnage, people running into the streets to join in the parade, dance along to the music which was also being blasted out from the back from several amps lashed together on a trolley or just banging on their horns to get through. I am sure that some people thought that we were part of it as we were eaten up in the festivities as the bearers of the children struggled under the weight of the large wooden dragons and had to take a well earned breather. We came to a standstill with people swamping the floats until a cry of “hello mister” rang out and own little fan club formed around us. Once again a great experience, which proves as ever the most spontaneous incidents are often the most memorable.  
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