Monday, August 28, 2017

Ruteng Rice Terraces and a Home Visit

Panoramic view of the Ruteng rice terraces
I am better this morning and manage to eat one egg and a piece of toast before Yance and a local guide pick us up for a walk through the rice terraces and to visit a local village home. The morning is breathtakingly beautiful and I nearly forget about my malady while walking along narrow dirt paths and trying to keep my balance on the rice terrace dikes. 

Walking through the rice terraces
Walking along the Ruteng rice terrace dikes

Rice farmer and his children
Boy carrying a sack of rice?

Rice farmer
Alisha and our local guide

We pass a few farmers, oxen and a young boy carrying a bag on his shoulders that is nearly as big as he is. I push myself to keep up with the others and am relieved when we reach the village beyond. 

Oxen tethered on the rice terrace, Ruteng
Freshly planted rice terraces, Ruteng
We walk through the Ruteng rice terraces into our guides village. It is more modern than the villages of Luba and Bena that we visited yesterday, and this is the village where he and his father live.

Walking into the village from the Ruteng rice terraces
Our guide invites us into his house for coffee. I dread another cup of black and gritty coffee but accept graciously and sit on their oddly formal and out of place sofa while Alisha plays singing and hand clapping games with a group of young children who have gravitated inside from the village to gawk at the strange white tourists. 

Marty sitting on the sofa in our Ruteng guides home
The guides father sits beside me

Closeup of family photos on the wall

Alisha with her big smile and easy rapport is a kid magnet and I wish that her kids could be here to play games with these beautiful children. Our guides father is at home and sits awkwardly beside me on the sofa. I wonder what he thinks of us foreign intruders. The interior of their home is dark and sparsely furnished and three family photos hang askew on a wall above a curling poster of a Virgin. 

A wood cooking fire smolders on the hard packed dirt floor of their kitchen. We can see into a bedroom off of the kitchen and the mattress is strewn with clothing. 

Our guides kitchen
Bedroom in the house.

The children are captivating and Alisha plays with them for nearly an hour before we say our goodbyes and begin our afternoon drive to Labuan Bajo.  I so wished that I felt better because I know what a remarkable experience this is and want to savor all the memories.

Playing with the Ruteng Village children
Playing with the Ruteng Village children

I doze in the back seat of the car until we arrive at the Spider Web rice fields in the mid afternoon.  There is a small ticket price to pay before we can climb the stepped pathway to the top of the hill for a vista view of the rice fields beyond. Beside the ticket kiosk are several women and girls pounding coffee to sell to the tourists. Alisha grabs a pole and gives it a go, presumably crushing the beans inside the wooden vat. 

Alisha pounding coffee

Alisha and Yancy, Spiderweb rice fields

The climb is not long but the day is hot and I am weak and sick. I feel faint when we reach the top to gaze at the spiderweb patterned fields below. 

View of the Spiderweb rice fields
On the drive to Labaun Bajou, Alisha sits beside Yancy while I sleep in the back seat of the car. We pass wonderful road side scenes that I regret not experincing personally. Happily Alisha is a great photo journalist and I have the following photos to share. 

Boys playing alongside the road
Children playing

School girls waving to us

Muslim women resting along side of the road

It is late afternoon when we arrive in the outskirts of Labaun Bajou—a bustling and grimy port city from which we will depart to the Komodo and Rinca Islands in the morning. 

View of Labuan Bajo Harbor
The Golo Hilltop hotel in Labuan Bajo
We say goodbye to Yancy

Yancy drives us through the crowded city and up to the lovely Golo Hilltop Hotel. The afternoon light bathes the hotel and the grounds in a magical golden hue. We say good by to our delightful guide Yancy and he informs us that Yosep, our guide to the islands, will stop by shortly to introduce himself. 

Poolside view
Alisha taking a late afternoon dip in the Golo Hilltop pool

There is a small jewel of a swimming pool and Alisha quickly changes into her swim suit to enjoy a before sunset dip overlooking a picture perfect view of the harbor below. I manage to take a few photos before retreating to our room to sleep. 

Sunset from the Golo Hilltop Hotel, Labuan Bajo
I vaguely remember Alisha telling me that Yosep has arrived but my fever has returned and I continue to sleep leaving her in charge of collecting any information that we might need for our trip to the Islands in the morning.  Alisha sets another pot of ginger tea on the night table beside me when she turns in for the night.

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