From all the islands that I’ve passed so far on this road trip, Flores is the most remote. Prior to leaving for this adventure I asked a couple of people about Flores and they all said it’s wild, it’s still a jungle. I didn’t want to know more about Flores, I wanted it like a final test of my adventure, to see if I can do it without knowing to much, if I can cope with everything that arises on the road, to be free to make my plan on the road in real time. All I knew where the names of 4 big cities, 3 touristic places and that there is only one way from west to east called “Trans-Flores Highway”, a 550km stretch of asphalt (not always), that goes through mountains and some parts are not in good condition.
I wake up my Honda around 8 in the morning, after 3 days of rest I think she’s happy to go back on the road. I tie the backpack on the seat, say goodbye to Pak Figgo and his family and on the road again. Wait she’s thirsty I need to put some gas. I notice some bensin bottles on the side of the road so I stop. What? 15.000 rupiah 1.5 liter? That’s 1.5 times the regular price, I don’t want bule (foreigner) price. 20 min later I spot a gas station, I wait on the queue almost 1 hour to put 4 liters, nice way to start my day, waiting. Some locals told me that when they have bensin at the gas station, they buy everything in a couple of hours, and then sell it 1.5 times the price on the side of the road, creative economy, you got to love Indonesia.
In the first 50 km I get familiar with Trans-Flores Highway. The road goes up in the mountains leaving behind the sunny beaches, cutting the jungle, bending to left or right every 300 meters or so. Each 2-3 km there is a construction site, working to enlarge the road, which now is not wider than 3-4 m.
Fresh cold air, mountains and green, remind me a bit about Romanian Carpathian Mountains. After Sumbawa which was all flat and burned by the sun, Flores feels alive. I stop several times to admire the view and take some photos.
It started to get cold, I need to put my hoodie, long pants and take the rain clothes over because for the second time in this 3 weeks it rains. The first rain was in Solo, the day I left in this adventure, now I’m in the mountains in Flores. I drive very slowly, a bit paranoid, my front tire is wearing out, the road is bendy, I’m freezing and I can’t see to much because of the rain droplets on my glasses. I don’t stop because it’s already 2 pm, I am somewhere in the mountains, in the middle of the jungle and I have no idea how far is the next village. The clouds starts to break after 1 hour and down in the valley I see some rice fields. By the distinctive shape of them it must be the spider web rice fields near Cancar village (manggarrai area).
I’m hungry, I just realize that I didn’t eat nothing for half a day, I need a waroeng (small restaurant on the side of the road) with some hot food and a coffee. They say there are just 2 in the village, one with bakso (something like meat balls) not my favorite food and one with rice, fish and vegetables, this sounds better. By the reaction of the owner it’s clear that I am the first bule (foreigner) entering her waroeng, the surprise is even bigger when she hears me speaking Indonesian. She advises me to stop here for today and offers me a bed in her house, since it’s almost dark and until Ruteng it`s another 1 hour of driving. I accept, after all that food I start to feel sleepy. Entering her house I notice 2 uncommon things for Indonesia: donuts and a virgin Mary statue. Catholicism is the dominant faith in Flores and because of this they do bread and donuts, happy me. It`s surprising how mountains, donuts and bread make me feel home sick, for the first time in 1 year. After 2 Flores coffees, some discussion and to many donuts I go to sleep on a mat wrapped inside a traditional hand made textile (ikat), it’s cold in the mountains.
They are catholic but they still get up early in the morning. At 5:00 am I’m up, taking a shower with cold water, fresh from the river. I go for a walk before sunrise to catch the morning life of the village.
I return home, have breakfast – again to many donuts, a Flores coffee (one of the best so far), put everything on the bike, a photo with the family and here we go again. Before leaving, Ibu Maria gave me some food for the road, guess what? yeah DONUTS. Thank you again, amazing people.