Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Sumba In December

Hello lovelies!

If you're following my Instagram, you'd have noticed those photos from Sumba island. I went there between Dec. 5 and Dec. 14, 2017. I have given some short captions on the photos, but I'd like to write a longer story on the trip and keep the memories here. So here it goes...

December is the month of Christmas celebration in Sumba island, almost everyone is taking a break. But it does not mean that the scorching sun of Sumba is taking a break too. I arrived at Umbu Mehang Kunda airport (heretofore will be called as UMK airport) with the sun shining in full force. I call it the sublime power of Sumba's sun. But of course, the rainy season in Sumba is just as powerful too. The people told me that the rain could last for 3 days without stopping. In fact, a week before my arrival, the rain caused floods from the five rivers that run in the villages.

I took both Deuter backpacks and the Makalu sleeping bag with me this time to anticipate the cold nights in the villages, but December nights were not as cold as August nights. For me, taking two backpacks to Sumba and putting the bigger one as the baggage were wise decisions. At least, I didn't have to worry that the trolley would break when the airport staffs threw the baggage onto the conveyor belt. Yes, UMK airport does have a conveyor belt for baggage. Its free Wi-fi is also immaculate.

Visiting Sumba in August and in December will give you different impressions. In August, which is the peak of the dry season, the landscape is in golden brown hue, water is scarce, and there is an extreme temperature drop between day and night, especially in the villages that I visit. In December, the landscape is turned into a green carpet, water drips from the limestone and the temperature between day and night is not as extreme as it is in August. Personally, I like it in December, especially because it is my birth month too :).

I went to the island to see two trainings: (1) organic farming and (2) post-harvest management. Organizing training in the island is a challenge on its own. The participation is low and it is hard to keep the participants staying interested on the subject. By the time the clock struck 4 p.m., the participants already looked uncomfortable and restless, they just wanted to go home.

I think the trainers did a great job at holding the participants as long as they could. One trainer saw that the participants liked playing cards, so he invented a group game, pitting one village against the other village. Everyone was excited.

Then I went to a village that has hybrid power plant of solar panel - wind turbine and micro hydro power plant. I climbed up the hill to see the wind turbine, then went down a valley to check out the micro hydro power plant. Now my body felt like it had been jabbed around, jousted and trampled over.

I forgot to bring one of D's mobilephones, which use T3lk0ms3l numbers (the provider that monopolize the eastern Indonesia area). But a girl is blessed with good friends who are more than willing to give free WiFi. Thank you, dear nephews.

This month's trip also resulted in a new hotel discovery. On my previous trip, I stayed in Elvin Hotel (an old style hotel) upon arrival and Padadita Beach Hotel (a bit expensive) before flying back home. But this time, the driver suggested that we checked out Sacca Residence & Resto. It's a small hotel, it doesn't even look like a hotel in a first glance. I like it for the fact that the food is delicious! I tried Tom Yum Soup for dinner and then had a fried rice for take away before going to the airport, and both taste perfect.

If you wondered why I made a fuss over food taste, well most foods in Sumba felt tasteless. With all do respect, I think most Sumba people do not know how to cook good food. I'm not an excellent cook myself, but I believe I can whip up better dishes. I had been encouraging my boss to hold cooking class for the people, and a week before my arrival, a trainer was flown in to Sumba to hold a baking training. The people were ecstatic to learn new tricks in cooking and baking. I heard there was even a new cookies business starting up in one of the villages. Yay!

The trip home was a series of delayed flights. The Waingapu-Denpasar flight was late for two hours, and when were about to take off, there was a sudden heavy downpour that we had to wait for another hour inside the plane. We reached Denpasar only to find that the Denpasar-Jakarta flight was also delayed for another hour. Argh. As the motto of the airline says: "It's better to be late than to never arrive."

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