There are several touristic spots in Flores that seems to pop up in every discussion that I have with locals here. One of them is Kelimutu Volcano, famous because the 3 crater lakes that have different colors, yet are at the crest of the same volcano. If there is something in Indonesian landscape that I can’t get enough, that`s the volcanoe craters and there are plenty here – Indonesia is part of the “Ring of fire”. I don’t know, for me, there is something mystic about them, they are like portals to the underworld. So I’m on my way to mighty Kelimutu Volcano.
But first I stop in Ende, I need to check out the boat schedules for Java, and to take out some money from the cash machine. It’s been 6 days since I was out of a crowded place and all this big town bustle gives me headache, even worse – I don’t find my credit card, my only credit card. Yep no trace of it, it just disappeared. Last time when I was using it was in Labuan Bajo, 6 days ago and 400 km away. I might have forgotten it in the cash machine, it`s not the first time in Indonesia when I do this, because the machines menu is idiotic, after you take the money out of the cash machine you need to press another button to take the card also.
Status check: no card, but still 1.600.000 rupiah (around 140$) in my pocket. The next boat is in 4 days from Maumere, 200 km towards east. The boat ticket is 1.000.000 rupiah and that leaves me with 600.000 rupiah for about 8 days until I reach Solo. 3 out of 8 days will be on the boat Maumere-Surabaya and there is crappy cafeteria food included in the ticket price. I only need to survive 5 days with 600.000 rupiah, meaning 10$ each day for food, gas and place to sleep. Sounds like an adventure, I’m in, not that I have another choice.
What’s the best antidote for frustation? Yeap, FOOD, I got to try the local cuisine before ascending Kelimutu. I had a plate of soup fish with rice and fresh lemon juice- 20.000 rupiah (less than 2$).
Acording to my estimation there is another 3-4 hours drive until the village of Moni, near Kelimutu. I don’t know were I’ll sleep so it will be good to arrive there before night falls. But as I am getting closer, the road is blocked. There was a land slide up in the mountains and they are working on it. I take this as an opportunity to get some info from the locals about some accommodation places around Kelimutu. The cheapest place is an orphanage run by nuns, 100.000 rupiah per night, 2 meals included, not bad but, over my daily expense. Standing in the road I meet also some German tourists, they really like my way of traveling, a true adventurer they say, yeahhh especially now when I don’t have much money left. Finally, after more than 1 hour we start moving, slowly, but moving. Just before night falls I make it to the orphanage, I can’t bargain but at least it is for a good cause, the money is used for the kids.
At the dinner I try to get some more information, about how to get to the lakes, but it seems that again everyone has their own way and own time estimation, the answers were raging from 30 min to 2 hours. I want to reach the top before 5:30 am so I can enjoy the sunrise from the top, better go to bed and leave everything in the hands of randomness.
I wake up around 4:00 am, I put all the warm clothes on me and I go to find the mighty Kelimutu in the dark. After 1 hour I’m completely freezing on the motorcycle, and to bring down the spirit more, it`s is completely dark, no light, not even moon light and there is nobody on the road to ask for directions. Finally, when I think I am lost, I see a sign towards Kelimutu. I got socks in my sandals, 2 pairs of long pants, 2 hoodies and I’m still freezing. But the view is worth it and luckily there is hot tea at the top.
After a few hours on top of the Kelimutu crater I continue my journey east. In 3 days I have the boat back to Java, soon my journey will end, this if I can make it with the money that I still have. I`m in a melancholic mood today. From the crater of Kelimutu (1639 m), I descend to sea level in less than 4 hours . I am not in the mood for anything today, I need a nice lonely beach, to put my hammock and go for a naked swim in the night.
I wake up with 2 curious locals around me, probably checking if I am still alive. No time for talk, a quick morning shower in the sea and towards Maumere today, wait, breakfast first.
Near Maumere, as I was taking a photo, I meet 2 funny guys – Alfie and Bobby. They are on a hunt for a good place to watch the sunset, I join them, it turns out that I like more the moon than the sunset.
So now the difficult part starts, I did this a lot of times before, but it just came naturally I didn’t need to ask for it, and now that I am broke …
– Hey guys, look, I am out of money and I need a place to sleep, I can’t afford a hotel, I have less than 400.000 rupiah for 6 days.
– We know a cheap hotel.
– How cheap?
– Around 150.000 per night.
– Can’t do it, not enough money.
– Man, if you don’t mind, maybe I can sleep at your house, I don’t need a bed or anything fancy, I can sleep in the garden if I can put my hammock.
– Ok bro, come, you’ll sleep in my room. But I stay in a small house with my sister, my nephews and my parents.
– Thanks man, a roof for 2 nights, it’s more than enough.
After we check in at Alfie’s place, we meet the family and all the procedures, we hit the streets. The guys have a friend working at the local reggae radio station which is in the tower of an old wooden church, it’s a post-apocalyptic ghetto feeling. I never thought that I would do something like this in my life, but they want me to record a radio jingle for them, you know something like: “Hi, my name is Adrian from Romania and you are listening to… good vibes and don’t forget to pee.”
We start the day with a tasty Flores coffee served on the grave of Alfie’s sister. Yeah, in Flores some of the families bury their beloved ones in their garden in front of the house and it is normal for them to hang out around the graves. After this we head towards the local market, today I buy fish for lunch, to thank them for their hospitality.
What I didn’t know is that the guys prepared me a short tour for today. We go on the hill behind Maumere to admire the city and to see the big statue of Virgin Mary that was build after the town was hit by tsunami in 1992. After we do our noon siesta at one of Alfie’s relatives in a village on the hill near Maumere, enjoying the cold breeze. Here I found out Alfie’s story about tsunami. He was 10 years old and when the tsunami alert started he wasn’t at home, he was out. He remembers that he was running towards the hills and he jumped in a truck, no idea were he was heading. It took him around 20 days to get back home, in the beginning he stayed in a forest with people and then slowly they started to move towards Maumere. It’s hard to imagine the emotion of his family when they saw him alive after 20 days.
From the hills I spot a small village build on stilts near Maumere, a bajo village. After 4 days spent in a bajo village in Sumbawa it’s seems that these people manifest a certain attraction to me, we make them a visit in the afternoon.
I want to finish the day earlier, since tomorrow morning at 3 am I a have a boat, but my hosts don’t care about this so we have a long dinner followed by a long discussion and a few shots of soppie – the local alcohol. Good night Flores for the last time.