It’s summer break at the University! For Lukas, Leon and me (Henrik), the plan was crystal clear – we wanted to go back to the places where we lived for one year: The island of Flores. Back when we volunteered for Taman Bacaan Pelangi – Rainbow Reading Gardens, we fell in love with Flores – the most beautiful island in Indonesia. The people were not only open-minded towards foreigners but cordial and lovely in every way. We used to live in guest families and where part of the local community. The open-mindedness, the warm-hearted people, and the incredible, energetic children have made every day of our voluntary-service spectacular. Hence, it was only a matter of time (and money:D – considering we are students), when we go back to an Island where we call the people family and the houses home. Leon and Lukas used to opportunity to discover other parts of Indonesia and went to Kalimantan. Due to some exams which I had to write in August, I came for two packed weeks of “Good old Flores”!
(An essential way of transport – the scooter)
We tried to do as much as possible and visited many people we still know. The greater area of Labuan-Bajo and Ruteng had not changed drastically in the time we were gone, so, fortunately, we had no problems, finding our ways around. The first families we surprised live in Paca, Pongkor, and Kaca. Also known as the places where Om Max, the founder, and man in charge of the one and only Paradise-Bar in Labuan Bajo, is from.
(This photo shows the beach which is admittedly not perfect to lay down but special in its own way. From left: Leon, Henrik, and Lukas)
Always worth a visit is a library in Pongkor which did not only bring back so many memories of school, crafting and great kids but it is also located next to a gigantic football field. The people from villages around meet here almost every bank holiday and a big tournament is on. Since Germany is known for great football in the world the expectations laid on us, where always high and we fulfilled them at least partly. Generally football, volleyball or any other sport that doesn’t require a proper gym is a great way of getting in touch with people on Flores. Every village has at least one pitch to play volleyball and people from outside the village are always welcome.
Coming back from the Ruteng area in Central-Flores, our way brought us to one of the most famous spots in West-Flores – the house and the panorama view of Pak Yosef in Melo. A village which has hosted volunteers not only once but twice offers grateful people who are engaged in explaining the “Manngaraian way of life” to others. Tourists use this village to learn about local culture and almost every week a game of traditional Caci is on. Pak Yosef is a very calm and thoughtful person who knows how to create hospitality for everybody. It is astonishing with how much detail he thinks about the Island, the environment, and the community. He is a wise speaker and perfect listener and like almost every time, we talked about development on Flores or anything else we had on our minds.
(Leon and I trying to perform Caci)
An Island which has been on my mind since the day I left it, is Papagarang. The Island can be seen from Labuan Bajo yet it takes two hours by boat to get there. At the center of the Komodo National Park, Papagarang is surrounded by beautiful reefs and the perfect places to take a swim. My lovely guest family prepared an awesome meal and we enjoyed a walk around the island…that takes 10 minutes because the island is literally just a hill. Most people on Papagarang are the fisherman and the children are extremely active which makes it fun to play with them yet it takes time to calm them down. I was especially happy about the fact that almost every child remembered me and joined for our bathing session in the ocean.
Not only in Papagarang but all over Flores we met so many people who remembered us and thanked us for our time on Flores. Obviously, we thanked them for making our time so unforgettable and letting us live in the heart of their communities. Whether it is Ibu Siska in Dalong, Ahmad Hardin on Papagarang, Pak Yosef in Melo or the families in Ruteng, everybody was special in their own way and everybody was engaged in making us feel comfortable. I know I can speak for all three of us if I say, it has been a privilege to live on Flores and we will be back!
Thank you! September 2017