Sunday, August 30, 2015

8/30 -- More Dragons, More Snorkeling

This time we headed out earlier (7am) to a closer island to see more Komodo Dragons and used a nice-looking old style fishing boat which was a lot slower than the speedboats we took two days ago.

Lower deck of our boat

Upper Deck
 Rinca (pronounced "Rincha") Island has a Komodo population of about 2,000. We saw a total of 10 dragons, including a mom guarding her nest and two three-year olds, newly on the ground from being tree-bound.  These little guys are more active than the older ones because they need to eat more often and they are still in danger of becoming lunch from the older ones.
Interesting warning sign on Rinca Island landing.We saw no
evidence of crocodiles other than the sign.
Official park entrance
There were a lot of macaque monkeys in the park too.

Our first dragon on this island, trying to look like a log.

Young dragon getting used to living on land instead of in
trees. It is still light enough to climb  if needed.

Close up of his head, which looks blue-green.

Timor deer -- walking lunch cart for the dragons.

This mess of holes and built up dirt is a nest for the bird below.
They reuse them several years until a dragon appropriates one.

Guinea fowl (?) -- nest builder to the dragons.

This is now a dragon nest with several decoy holes. Only one
has eggs.
Mom is hiding behind a nearby tree and will guard the eggs for
3-4 months, about half their incubation time.
The rangers here work 10 days on and 10 off, staying in dorms on
the island. Several Komodos hang out and  have become somewhat
accustomed to people. These are 3 of a group of 5 resting mostly
in the shade of an elevated dorm.

This guy decided the grass was greener elsewhere and got up
to move.

He is walking closer to where the other dragons are dozing.
He finally walks past another dragon and flops down on the ground.

See if you can find the 5 dragons here.

This is another juvenile. We were not able to talk anyone from
our group into standing close to him to provide a frame of

The little guy close up

Then he got up for a walk.

I guess he was thirsty.

We had lunch on the boat as we sailed to another smaller island, Kelor, where we had another opportunity to snorkel. The boat was able to anchor to the shore because the side we approached dropped off steeply, but there was good shallower snorkeling a short swim away. The worst part was getting into the water -- it was much chillier that the snorkeling area in shallower water! We saw more clown fish today (Nemo), a puffer fish and several of the dinky cobalt blue dealies. We also saw a pale lavender polka dot fish with long wavy fins. Totally new to both of us. I was concerned about over-tiring, so I headed back to the boat after abut 30 minutes, while Jim stayed out and later reported that he was attacked by several fish, including three who bit him! Several other snorkelers reported the same problem. The theory is that we were disrupting their territory. Again, no pictures of fish.
When we got back to the dock in the park, so many
other big boats had tied up that we had to have a
dinghy come and get us in three stages. Here, the
second group back is making their way on board.

Lunch on the boat --more than we could possibly eat.

Kelor Island where we tied up to swim and snorkel. The best stuff
to see was in the vicinity of the rock on the left side of the island.

Finally we headed back to shore to prep for dinner and flying back to Bali tomorrow.
Our hotel from the boat. We are on the third floor, right side,
hidden by trees,

I want this boat (but  not the upkeep...)

8/29 -- Visit a Local Village

Flores is populated by a total of 9 different tribes. Our local guide, Gusty (short for Augustin), is a member of the tribe we visited up a nasty hair-pin turned road in a village called Cecer (c is pronounced ch in Indonesia and k is always used for the hard 'c' sound).

We were greeted in a formal ceremony, treated to the local brew (fermented palm sap), and exchanged individual introductions from everyone. When everyone had been told ages, occupations, children, grandchildren and home state of everyone else, we left the meeting house for dances.
When we first arrived, these women were providing music
(drums and gongs). It appears they start training early ;-).

Normally, there is an exchange of three different colored
chickens, but the more modern greeting is an exchange of
cash. Arinto appointed the one in our groups who had taken
the most OAT trips to be our spokesman. He and the village
headman exchanged cash and welcoming words three times.

These dancers were outside the raised meeting house where
we all went for the next stage of the greeting.

Inside the meeting house. This man, while not
the headman, answered many of the questions
that we asked.
The first dance we saw looked like a warrior dance but was interpreted to be the father and mother protecting a person from misfortune. The second involved the story of the rice harvest. Next was a welcoming dance, a Filipino-style bamboo pole dance that involves skipping between moving poles without getting your ankles whacked. This was followed by a group rhythmic dance that we all participated in.
The man on the left is the good guy and the one on the right
represents misfortunes attacking  him.

Another pair  in the dance
The bow-like thing represents the strength of the
father and the shield is the protective mother. All
the other parts of the dance outfit were symbolic too.

There are 3 pairs of dancers who each took on the good and
bad guy roles. After each attack, the good guy reported to
the elders (men in white who formally observed) how he had
managed to fight off misfortune.

Some of our group posed with the dancers. Jim is back left.
The start of the rice dance
Another rice dance stage
The welcoming dance. The women used the woven belts to
pull visitors into the dance. First were the men, then
another round with the women,
Jim in the welcoming dance.
Margo, Chris, and Marty tried this -- Marty was really good at it.
This is a farming village that grows rice (it is wetter here than on the coast), candlewood, coffee, cloves, and vegetables. We walked to a home and practiced grinding coffee, and to another with women who were cracking hazel nuts and one was weaving on a simple loom.
Local women demonstrating how to grind coffee.

Homer, Elaine, and I try it -- we never really got into a rhythm.

Margo,  Jim, and Mai grinding coffee.

A mom with two adorable kids. There were
a lot of cute kids here, though probably not as
many as in the past since the government is
encouraging families to stop at two kids.

The simple loom used in this village

Women cracking nuts with the folded wood strips in their hands.
the nut goes in the folded end and is whacked against the
central rock. Several of us tried it -- harder than it looks!

I think it was laundry day. This family used their bushes as a
drying rack, which was not typical.

A typical house on the top half of the  hill. The ones lower down
were not elevated but had concrete walls on the bottom 3 feet.
Back on the bus we went back to town for lunch. As we got started, a very loud band started played just outside our window -- there was a wedding reception going an, which we went to look at after lunch. We were invited in to congratulate the couple and parents and were allowed to take pictures with them as well.
Very elaborate setting for the bride and groom.  Based on the
scarves the women wore, this was a Muslim wedding. Flores is
predominantly Catholic (Portuguese got here first), but 50% of
the Muslim population of the island lives here.

Close up of the happy couple.