We dock at Palopo harbor for the beginning of a trek through the South part of Sulawesi Island. We will be staying overnight, then continue to the opposite side of the island to meet the ship, which will have sailed around to meet us.
We marvel that our tour bus is in better shape than the Chinese buses we experienced in 2012. Aren’t we in the jungle? Yes, we are, and it’s the beginning of another amazing scenic and cultural adventure.
The first order of business is whether to attend a Toraja funeral. The area we are going to explore is home to the Torajan people. Their culture is extremely foreign. We have been educated on what to expect. It is fascinating and disturbing. A funeral is a really big deal, involving family, villagers, and visitors. A special building is constructed for the event. In fact, the more people that attend ensures a higher ascent for the spirit. It also involves a major sacrifice of buffaloes
We decline the opportunity to potentially hear and see such slaughter. Depending on arrival, a visit may or may not coincide with what we consider a gruesome event. No, thank you.
Our drive will take us to a hotel in the middle of nowhere to spend the night. Along the way, the scenery is spectacular. We see waterfalls, ferns, and bamboo. Banana, coffee, spice and cocoa plants are everywhere.
The scenic drive is interspersed with visits to villages.
The traditional houses are built a certain way and for specific purposes. Nowadays, a modest home is where the family lives, but at least one traditional house is on the premises and used for storage above
and gazebo below.
One of the villages is famous for traditional Ikat weaving. Unfortunately, we do not have enough local currency to purchase anything. 😦
Bori Village is famous for the stone monoliths. These 200-300 year old stones are a funeral site indicating the ascent of the spirit. Max, one of our child passengers, plays with the local children.
Life revolves around death.
The Hotel Heritage is a lunch stop and check in. We are impressed with the hotel and grounds. There are 4 rooms per Toraja style bungalow.
After lunch, we visit more villages and graves. Toraja graves are built everywhere. There are mausoleum types with photos of the deceased displayed at the roof.
There are graves built in wood.
Graves in caves.
Effigies of the deceased in the caves.
Babies are holy if they have not developed teeth. These graves are in the trunks of dead trees. They carve an opening for the deceased and cover the opening with palm tree trimmings.
The baby’s soul is supposed to rise up out of the tree.
Later, dinner at the hotel is a sumptuous feast.
Afterwards, we return to our room with no air conditioning or ceiling fan, but we are assured that nothing will fly in if we leave the windows open, which have no screens. We bravely oblige. It’s amazing we aren’t mosquito bitten and the evening is comfortable. Sleep is good!
The next morning, we visit a Super market. It is unlike anything. The Toraja culture is very serious about their water buffalo. They can spend lots of money on water buffalo. It’s not related to income, because families can pool resources to buy the best. $45,000 – $50,000 for the best, anyone? Water buffalo lead a pampered life. They are not used for work like in other countries. It’s a daily spa treatment for these creatures.
However, they are tied up by their noses.
In the end, they meet their maker at the celebratory funeral, which involves many water buffalo and pigs. Lots of people to feed.
Anyway, the market is teeming with water buffalo and pigs. There is every manner of transporting your purchase.
Animals have no rights. It is horrifying.
Then, there are the roosters. Guys are serious about their cocks. In the villages and the markets, we see them carrying their prize fighters around like we carry around pet dogs. A fascinating point is that disputes between people or villages are handled by a cockfight. May the best cock win! End of conflict.
The market also sells the usual assortment of rice,
and fish. I wish we could spend more time exploring. But, it’s time to move on to see more graves! Oh, goodie!
The cliff graves of Lemo Village are displayed in the rock walls. These effigies have been redressed, which is a celebratory decision by the family. Definitely hard work climbing a bamboo ladder to spruce up the family!
On the drive to Pare Pare harbor, we see cocoa and coffee beans drying the old fashioned way. We even see rice threshing by hand.
Toraja Land comes to an end.
Now, the Muslim community sets in. It’s completely different. Suddenly, roads and homes are modern. The terrain is drier, but still scenic.
In one section of Sulawesi Island, we have seen dramatic differences!
Our ship awaits us at Pare Pare harbor, having repositioned from the opposite side of South Sulawesi.
It’s time to reflect and review the last two days!