It’s a nice chilly morning in the mountains of Flores, it’s only a 20 min ride from Cancar to Ruteng, it’s a bendy road not wider than 2 meters, part of the Trans Flores Highway. It takes me another 30 min to get out of Ruteng, there are no road indicators and it seems that everyone has his own way of getting out of town.
Today I want to reach the village of Bena in case I don’t find anything else on the way. Again the scenery is breath taking. Every 20-25 km there is a place to stop and enjoy the view together with a Flores coffee. Very tempting, so I stop several times. The road takes me up in the mountains for about 3 hours and then in less than an hour I descent to sea level. I make a small detour just to touch the sand and the sea. Near the beach I find a small waroeng (restaurant), I want to stop here for lunch, but they don’t have fish, all the fishermen are busy playing billiards.
I continue my road through banana plantations going up in the mountains just to descent again. And then the most perfect cone shaped volcanoe appears in front of me. I stop to admire it from far, check the name on the map – Inerie Volcanoe. A decision is made: tonight I want to sleep on the slopes of this volcanoe.
I ask in the first village for information about the villages in that area. It seems that the village of Bena, my destination for today is somewhere on that mountain and there is an alternative dirt road that goes around the volcanoe on the south slope, near the sea. I am attracted by the idea of finding this road and the posibility of getting lost a bit. It turns out that it’s not that hard to find the road and yeah, they were right, it’s a dirt road. Maybe 10 years ago it was tarmac here but now mostly rocks and some tarmac leftovers. After an hour of wrestling with the road and the motocycle, I hear some music at a crossroad, something like carribean style. The “main” road goes paralel to the sea, the other goes straight upwards the volcanoe. I take the second one and in 200 meters I stop again in front of a big sound system. I am greeted by The Captain, a man in his sixties dressed in a shirt and a saylor hat, the only thing that he misses is a rum jar in his left hand. I am invited to join a wedding party, just like that, from the road straight to the party, no time for shower or makeup. I meet the couple and then I’m served with a glass of sophie (local alchool) with some porc stew. It seems that I am the VIP of the party, everybody is wathing me. The old ladies invite me for some betel nuts (a light hallucinogen), I give it a try, it tastes awful and I can’t feel half of my mouth, but I am a bit high. Then The Captain attacks me with more sophie. In one hour I’ve made 30 new friends, eaten, chewed betel nuts and got drunk with sophie, well, life is hard sometimes. The party goes on until morning but around 1 in the night, exhausted, I retreat in a neighbouring house to have a rest.
We start the day with shots of sophie on an empty stomach and the party mood is on again. Between betel nuts and shots of sophie they “sacrifice” a small piglet, cook some rice, papaya leafs and prepare a spicy souce. Afer this heavy breakfast, we rest for a while in the shadow, for the food to settle, then the music starts again, it’s like a non stop party here. I take a break from all this madness and go around the village to take some photos.
This community is amazing, I want to stay one more night with them, smiling faces all the time.
This morning I leave towards the megalithic village of Bena. I say good by to everybody and I am on my way to the turistic place. After a few hours of enduro driving I arrive. Well, the houses look amazing and everything, but the people are so different. They all want to sell me something, I don’t feel ok. Still, I am determined to find a house, to sleep tonight here. The chief of the village lets me understand that for a certain fee I can spend the night with a family here, hey, this is not what I’m searching for.
The luck is with me again, as I was taking pictures of some coffe beans laid on the ground to dry, a young guy approached me and invites me for a coffee. He is a truck driver, but now he has a short vacation, so he is at home and he is bored. We spend the afternoon together, preparing some coffe beans and going for a hot bath at the river in the forest. I tell you there is nothing more awesome after a sweaty day, to chill in a hot river, looking at the stars, surounded by the sound of the forest. To top it all our food for tonight is some baked banana, delicious. Around 10 pm I go out to take some night shots of the village, it’s a creepy atmosphere, similar to a horror movie. The village is completly deserted, in the middle it’s a big altar stone surrounded by graves and from time to time you can hear sounds and voices from the houses around.
Such a big difference between these 2 villages. The turistic village of Bena looks very good, the traditional houses, the fact that they preserve their culture untouched, the stories but almost everybody saw me like a walking cash machine, except my host family and I thank them for this. You can find more info about the village of Bena and the Ngada culture here http://www.florestourism.com/where-to-go/bena-village. By far the best time on this mountain, and in the last few months were the 3 days I’ve spent in Inerie village, those people are just amazing. Sophie UP.