A handshake in Indonesia is gentle, followed by raising your right hand to touch your chest. It means I welcome and greet you today, may not remember your name, but will keep your face in my heart always. I think that says it all, not to mention all the smiling faces and everyone wants to have a picture with you. “Mister, one more picture please”. :) Indonesia is chaotic at best, everything is done by consensus, and of course everyone wants to be involved, so the result is that any agenda is constantly changing, right up until it actually unfolds. But it is done with such great heart, so a little patience goes a long way. In that light, it truly is a “Magical Mystery Tour”.
The relatively small village of Pasarwajo put on the “Colossal dance” performance like nothing we’ve ever seen. Can you imagine 12,500 dancers (we kid you not), mostly all students, all at the same time, performing traditional dances? We were completely awestruck! Then try to imagine what it must have took to pull this together, all in two months, on a large island that is geographically dispersed. Unbelievable, particularly when you know that it was done just for us, 11 boats, ~26 people, not to mention the wonderful ceremonies, dinners, a personal guide for each person, transport, a diving trip to see Mandarin fish, etc, etc. And that’s just the “planned” activities. Then there’s all the little things, the friendly fisherman everywhere, the boys that paddle out to visit with you to practice their English, the yummy food, the beautifully designed fishing boats and homes, the diverse culture from island to island, even the mosque loud speaker chanting (calls to pray) at 4:30 in the morning. And the mountainous, jungle clad, tropical islands themselves are beautiful and the seas crystal clear.
Indonesians like to tell stories through dance, there’s a dance for everything. One particular one was lovely on Buton, which every Butonese knows, the story of the mermaid. The short version is that the children were misbehaving playing in the water where they weren’t supposed to, they got into trouble, swallowed up by the sea and became fish. The mother, heart stricken, jumped into the sea to search for them, became a mermaid, forever searching for her children. And so it goes, that children should always obey their mother. :)
When we first arrived, we had to dress in their traditional costumes which included sarongs, tops, jackets and belt. We thought this was solely for the ceremonies, but they insisted we keep them for when we come back. One ceremony was called the “Doli Doli” to strengthen the immune system of babies. There were about 1000 babies all being rubbed in coconut oil and rolled in banana leaves, all crying and making a fuss. :) Then after the welcome ceremony, there was the “1000 trays” where we were fed lovely morsels. After the feast, we were shown to other tents highlighting local handcrafts, eg, weaving baskets, mats and cloths. They insisted Sherry get in front of a weaving loom to learn how it was done. Once strapped in, there were about 75 people all trying to give her instructions (in Indonesian) and showing by example. Great fun, though not sure she wants to be a weaver!
After a car trip across the mountains to Baubau, for another ceremony with the Sultans and King, a lunch, the tour of the Keraton Fortress and then another lovely dinner overlooking the bay, we were whisked (wild one hour ride) back across the mountains to Pasarwajo. We were exhausted and ready to climb into bed, only to find the mayor of Pasarwajo had ALSO planned another dinner , music and dancing. After midnight, we slipped away to the dingy and back to the boat to FINALLY climb into bed. Phew! And so it goes, another lovely day in Indonesia. :)
With Equanimity and Joy
With Equanimity and Joy