VAYA CON DIOS!

People don’t take trips. Trips take people. – John Steinbeck.

It’s what Messi and I exactly feel! We are still amazed until right now and still wonder how lucky we are to have done the trip to Lembata. Continuing to the previous story, Papa Oli and Mama Gita are the biggest reasons we consider ourselves lucky.  I am sorry in advance; there are details of gratefulness we can’t share (although we’re dying want to). Some precious moments are meant for Messi and me to keep. Besides, if you are destined to go there you’d probably think it’s better to have your own personal experience in enjoying kindness from Papa Oli and Mama Gita. Everyone’s different thus let’s keep our blessings special.

“I’ve never received a love like that to me before. No one ever treated me like them before.” I said to Messi tearfully on the night after we left Lembata Island. We cried, again. It was our first time to experience such a life-changing moment. We knew we just have known Papa Oli and Mama Gita for a quite short time, we’ve never known how they were before. But our hearts knew best, conscience sense better than brain, and we knew that they were a truly kind couple. True altruists.

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by love and kindness from someone who doesn’t really do any particular act? We found it in Papa Oli. It was so strange. I even felt so happy without any clear reasons when he asked me to sit beside him, called my name, smiled at me, and touched my shoulder when he encouraged me. He was the most selfless man I’ve ever met in my 27 years of life. I’ve met some ‘influencing’ people; they carry their own charity organizations, their religions; they tell everyone how good they are in their religions and what they have done to contribute in their religions. They become public speakers, trying to make a change to other people, and eventually people will be moved to buy their books, videos, etc. Yet, sadly, when I get to know them deeper, I know who they truly are. More precisely, my heart knew from the beginning that there was something different behind the self they show to others.

Papa Oli has been working for Taman Daun for 30 years and it’s still slow moving. I hope you can guess why. Yes, as I said in the previous blog, he works in silence. He doesn’t let his noble intention forming another ego: ego of a good Oli. All the greatness of Taman Daun that I heard told by Bang Adjie; just like me trying to promote Taman Daun to others. Papa Oli was there when we listened to the story; he just smiled, laughed, and occasionally joined Bang Adjie. These young people: Bang Adjie and John S.J were the ones who tried to promote it on the internet. Papa Oli has a Facebook account and a cell phone, but they are also managed by his daughter. He simply doesn’t care about those things. He enjoys taking care of children. He is so down to earth, he never talks about his greatness; he serves best, and he gives a lot. He doesn’t wear sandals; he lets his feet touching the earth.

Mama Gita is also the same. When she taught us doing tenun, she always said ‘pardon me’ before she interrupted and corrected us. And she was sooo patient teaching us. Even when we screwed up the pattern, she said ‘that’s fine’ ?. She also has a serving heart. She cooked for us and made us lots of breads to keep our stomach full when we were about to go Pulau Siput.

 

A special dinner they prepared for us. (Messi)

 

I heard from Kak Nancy, there once a day when Kak Nancy woke up at 4 am to take over Mama Gita’s role to prepare breakfast for a group of volunteers. Kak Nancy was concerned about Mama Gita’s health. And you know what? Hot tea was even already served at 4am :’( Mama Gita always hugged us tightly every time she greeted us, not merely as basa basi, she hugged with her heart.

Papa Oli and Mama Gita is a perfect match to each other. Both understand about the Lamalera ancient tradition that even when Papa Oli told us a story, Mama Gita would add and vice versa. They did that in a perfect rhythm that didin’t sound like one interrupted rudely each other. Papa Oli also looked at Mama Gita with smile when she talked. They are old by age yet sometimes still teased each other. They always escorted us far to the front when we went home.

Time to part came. We would leave Lembata on Thursday morning so we spent some time at Taman Daun on Wednesday night. Suddenly, Papa Oli came into a room before he headed back to us and said: “These are for you…if I’m not mistakenly stealing (information)…” He gave Messi and me a wood necklace, carved with our Palada number. He must have seen our numbers on our shirts from the first day we came!

 

 

He said the gifts were for us, girls who concerned so much about nature and he said we were special. We were so surprised and so touched. We got so much that night and we tried to contribute too, even though our efforts would never be equal. Later, I aspired that I would come back again to Lembata someday. Papa Oli and Mama Gita said “Pasti.” at the same time ?. Definitely, they said ?. We talked much that night and we would come back again in the following morning to say good bye.

And morning had come, we paid a visit, short one, around 15 mins only. They gave us another gift, a gift that was so special to us and oh my.. Messi and I couldn’t stop saying thank you and we tried so hard to hold our tears. Lastly, I started to hug Mama Gita and she said words indistinctly while hugging me, perhaps a prayer. She later looked at me and marked a cross on my forehead. I started to cry yet I tried so hard to resist. Then I hugged Papa Oli, he prayed for me and crossed my hand while shaking hand. He did it while looking me in the eyes and I felt the love from those eyes.  Messi started to cry hard that I finally failed to act strong. It was a very touching moment to all of us. We were all cried and we were very sad we had to go.

While I was walking out, I rang 3 bells at Taman Daun. They were believed could grant our wishes. I have rung them a few times before, wishing things for my own. That morning before we parted, I rang them again and I sincerely wished that they will still be healthy when I meet them again. Messi and I were ready to go while Bang Adjie and Kak Nancy had departed; maybe, they gave us one last chance. We waved our hands to them, with eyes full of tears. They said go and don’t look back.

 

Last picture of us

 

I’m crying again right now :’(

We became silent on our way to Larantuka while we crossed the sea. It was dramatic and I couldn’t help it. I am always true to my feelings. I spent some time to sit alone on the front deck and I was so grateful about everything. I flash-backed about Taman Daun and I said to myself once again: I.WILL.GO.BACK.

On that night when we were about to sleep at Kak Nancy’s house in Larantuka, I discussed again with Messi. We were asking what made ourselves special and wondering how they could effortlessly inspired us to be kind, like them. They didn’t preach us, didn’t lecture us; they simply effortlessly taught us about love and compassion by being who they were. They inspired me to be a better person, reminded me to be selfless (which i will keep trying to train myself, not easy), and they inspired me to be down to earth and has a heart that serves. We cried again and Messi hugged me. Oh well.

I’m still so young, and so is Messi. We’ll keep practicing and won’t forget to be happy too. Whenever I felt down, I touched the necklace from Papa Oli; and I knew…I’m loved.

We deeply thank Bang Adjie and Kak Nancy so much again and again. Kak Nancy cooked and did a lot to us. We thank Bang Adjie, for hosting us at his house, for accompanying us everywhere, and for washing our clothes with washing machine in so early morning ??. We thank Bang Adjie’s parents for letting us sleep there, made the room ready, for the breakfasts every morning. We thank Kak Nancy’s family for doing the same.

All these precious memories will forever be cherished. Even if we can’t pay back, God will.

 

With Bang Adjie's parents
Farewell with Bang Adjie’s parents. Ignore my legging please.

 

With Papa Oli’s father. His heart was so tender.

 

With Kak Nancy’s family.

 

Our last selfie.

 

Thank you so much.

Vaya Con Dios and till we meet again.

TAMAN DAUN, A PLAYGROUND FOR ALL

Reading is a window to the world. Imagine life without books, without information, how would your life be? I’ve never truly conceived it until just now.

We visited Taman Daun on our second day when we had finished exploring Bukit Cinta and Bukit Doa. As we got there, we were greeted very warmly from an old man whom we later called Papa Oli. We were quickly introduced about Taman Daun.

 

 

Taman Daun is a place designed for children to read and to relax. The idea came up with a very thoughtful intention, to provide various books for children since the access to read books was very limited. Lembata Island is bigger than Jakarta, yet there are no bookstores like here which we can find in every mall. And you know how many malls in Jakarta. Imagine there is an island which has no privilege the same as we have here and there are brains which are probably much smarter than us? All they need is the access to get education, to receive knowledge, and I believe there is at least somebody who will grow up to be such a great person. Imagine.

This man, Papa Oli, provides it. He, together with his wife, Mama Gita, built a place for children to enjoy their after-school time.

 

Papa Oli

 

Papa Oli and Mama Gita used their own land, built everything slowly with their own money, and they gathered book donors from their relatives. Taman Daun’s natural concept also provides a relaxing ambiance for children because they knew children get so much pressure from schools; get a strict education such as memorizing or answer questions academically. Taman Daun also provides creative activities to emerge and stimulate other part of children’s brain, or simply to let them to just have fun. Children can also enjoy reading things they don’t get from school such as folklore, craft books, history of many countries in the world, fun science, etc. Taman Daun has a dream: to provide a million books for Lembata. As for now, they have received about 4.000 books and they are also have distributed the books to 3 other branches. Those branches were collaborated with others (some are under different names), inspired by the noble vision of Papa Oli has.

 

 

 

Paintings by Papa Oli and his children. Archie (middle child) contributes most and he also crafts things as souvenirs.

 

Courtesy of Taman Daun blogspot

 

Taman Daun also has so many beautiful spots, indoor and outdoor. Children really love spending time outdoors. I also noticed that children even visit Taman Daun right after school when the school uniform is still put on. They will spend a quite short time to play then they will go home to change clothes before they come back again to read, to play, or to finish their homework.

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the title said, it’s also a playground for adults to have fun in a different way. Messi and I enjoyed spending quality time; talking about change, world, children, ancient belief of Lamaholot people, the whale-hunting tradition, and sooo many more topics. We discussed it altogether with Papa Oli, Mama Gita, Bang Adjie, Kak Nancy, and sometimes, Papa Oli’s youngest daughter, Maris. We talked about it in a way that I found it was so refreshing, amazing, completely from a different point of view. One of them is about the whale-hunting tradition of Lamalera.

Lamalera is located in the southern part of Lembata. During May to October, whales migrate passing the sea area near their village. I am an animal lover and I truly deeply passionately (lol) disrespect or sometimes hate people who abuse or kill animals. I have heard about the whale-hunting tradition from several years ago and Bang Adjie invited me to come to Lembata when the ceremony is held. I said yes but I actually didn’t want to see it lol. Since it’s a tradition, I knew I should respect it and I can’t do anything to change it so I better pull to one side. However, our afternoon talk about this tradition with Papa Oli, Mama Gita and Bang Adjie, opened my eyes and made me realize that there are always 2 sides of a coin.

I hope I can re-explain it with pictures taken by Arnold Simanjuntak.

 

Blessings From The Sea

Young to old people take a part in this tradition.

 

Tradition and religion walk side by side. Catholic religion adapts and supports by adding rituals.

 

Priests (or pastors?) bless the sea, hoping things will go well. Before that, a mass also be held and attended by the whole villagers.

 

Twelve men in the boat. Those who go to the hunting should be ‘clean’. They are not supposed to do bad things to others before otherwise they’ll be dead or missing. Those who stands lead the way; they use sign language. Verbal activity is forbidden to prevent bad luck. Hunting is a spiritual process that everyone has to go through. Nature is amazing. Be kind, always.

 

These are Pledang, their traditional boat.

 

When a whale is within coverage, all gather work together. No individual ego here about which boat should win the prize.

 

Juru tikam..

 

Ready to be brought home.

 

Once the whale touch the shore, all people gathered and help each other to process it. They get the oil, the bones, the teeth, and of course, the meat.

 

While waiting for the men coming back from the sea, all women can do chores as usual yet they should always carry a knife in case a whale successfully brought to the village. It’s believed that the blessing from the sea should be taken care of immediately otherwise nature will see the neglect and bring bad luck to the village.

 

The meat will be distributed to all people in the village. The poor and the widows will also get the portion hence it’s literally called a blessing from the sea. Some will use the meat and oil to consume, to sell, or to trade with people in mountain. Lamalera people who live near the sea normally use the ‘blessing’ to barter into cotton, corns, etc.

 

All are happy 🙂

 

Get the local wisdom?

One more wonder of Taman Daun xD!! Visitors can also try tenun. Indonesia has so many places which produce tenun and each tenun from a place is different to another. Since Papa Oli and Mama Gita are Lamalera people, they style of tenun is also influenced by Lamalera thing: whale.

 

Love it so much.

 

Messi was sooo serious learning.

 

Messi and I gave it a try and omigosh it was quite hard! Well, tenun with the machine isn’t that hard as long as we get used to the pattern but what I describe as hard is the whole process! From harvesting the cotton, dyeing process, into a ready-to-wear fabric! Mama Gita is an expert in this. She has been producing tenun from she was young and now she also teaches visitors to finish their own tenun. She also creates some for sale, Messi bought one and she loved it!

 

Mama Gita taught each of us very politely and very patiently xD

 

Messi got the first turn and she learned for about 30 mins. She even dare to teach me! Look, she laughed at me -.-  xD

 

We had to wear tenun while we menenun. It’s a tradition that should be followed.

 

Finished learning. Messi and I wore traditional tenun.

 

Days that Messi and I spent in Taman Daun were good. We were amazed by the kindness of Papa Oli, Mama Gita, and the whole family! We knew we were so lucky to have the opportunity to know them; thank you Bang Adjie, thank you universe.

As I heard from Bang Adjie, not everybody likes Papa Oli and his Taman Daun. Some are envious or even dislike with no clear reason. Well, there are always haters 🙂 Papa Oli and Mama Gita work in silence. On its 30th anniversary, all they want isn’t to have a bigger and a more materialistic Taman Daun. They just simply wish to receive 996.000 more books for children in Lembata, or maybe, NTT. Will you be a part of their dream?

Here is the address in case you are moved to send reading books, drawing books, stationery, school supplies and other related gifts for the children in Lembata.

Taman Daun / Taman Baca Anak

RT 005 RW 002

Kelurahan Lewoleba, Kecamatan Nubatukan

Kabupaten Lembata, NTT

Contact Person: (+62)822.4758.0547 — Goris Ubas (Papa Oli)

 

There is also a relative of Papa Oli who also has the same spirit and he fights for Kupang area while helping Papa Oli taking care social net marketing of Taman Daun.

You can also send the book to him  (+62)813.385.394.34 (John, S.J)

http://tamandaun.blogspot.co.id

Facebook Taman Daun

 

Please help us spread this kindness, Thank you!

 

7 PLACES YOU CAN GO IN LEWOLEBA

Do you have a chance to visit eastern part of Indonesia? Just go, don’t think twice!

I almost cancelled this trip because I was really broke T^T. Good thing was Messi and I actually have planned this since last year and we got a chance to save money every month.

 

This is Messi.

 

If it wasn’t because of that saving, I would probably cancel this trip lol. Several days prior my leaving was a quite big mind battle for me, the truth was I thought I should use the money to pay my bills or I thought it was too soon to leave home again or what others would think of me, would they think I’m rich or financially reckless? I wanted none of those since my inborn way of thinking attacked me: I live in the way to please others so I can be loved. In the end, I didn’t give a damn and glad I finally did it; otherwise I would be deeply discontent. Why? Beside of the beautiful scenery, I got something more meaningful which I will tell you later. Now let’s talk about the places!

First of all I want to thank Messi for convincing me once again and I deeply thank Bang Adjie (my senior in PALADA) and his girlfriend Nancy for hosting us and giving us their best in hospitality. Lembata is one of the islands of East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) and also known for some other names such as Kawula Island or Lomblen Island.

 

 

 

Better view with G-map lol

 

To be precise, the places I’m going to share are located in Lewoleba, a subdistrict in Lembata. We got there by plane with route Jakarta – Surabaya (Transit) – Kupang  – Lewoleba.

 

Trans Nusa by Nam Air. It is a small airport so the flights are also limited.

 

I kinda failed to show you how small the plane is but yeah, it’s small.

 

Just as I expected, even if it’s still May but the land is already dry; or maybe it is because of its regional climate or something I’m not sure but it was still beautiful even if it was quite dry! Oh oh anyway! Bang Adjie and Messi also contribute some of the pics. I’m giving them credits in the caption.

Anddddd here are 7 places you can go!

 

  1. Waijarang Beach

 

 

Or Wewanbelen Beach in G-map lol.

It’s located in Waijarang village and you will see 2 parking areas; just go straight further from the first one to have better spot to park your vehicle. We went there by motorcycle and had to be careful because the road was bumpy but the scenery was nice along the way. I couldn’t stop saying ADUHHH or GILAAA or both at the same time lol.

The beach was nice!! Clear water and amazing view, seriously!

 

Geo locating with Bang Adjie. (Messi)

 

You can see Adonara Island and any other islands on the west part of NTT. OMG, I liked taking pictures here.

 

 

Our hosts and Adonara Island view.

 

Islands of the west as background (Adjie)

 

One thing I didn’t explore was the corals because no one wanted to swim further and I was too afraid to do that alone. Water is not my element >.<

 

  1. Bukit Doa

Or Prayer Hill literary in English. We went here on the second day and it has the same route as Waijarang Beach. Bukit Doa is somewhere further and the road are extremely dangerous. Gravels along the way and sometimes they are deep enough to get you stuck. Not to mention sharp meanders to be careful about. I was struggling hard and drove like an old lady with back pain or sometimes I walked like penguin while I was sitting on the bike lol. I supposed to drive Messi but she walked most of the times eventually xD. My hands were tired pulling the breaks but seriously, any of those weren’t nothing compared to what I saw.

 

Sad scene

 

Bukit Doa was built by Regent of Lembata and dedicated to be a pilgrimage site since Catholics is the major religion in NTT.

 

  1. Bukit Cinta

Or Love Hill literary in English. When you drive back from Bukit Doa, you can see Bukit Cinta. I didn’t notice this on my way to Bukit Doa.

 

With this scale, I think Bukit Cinta and Doa are within the circle.

 

It is like a landmark of Lembata and it’s also written as Wolor Pass so maybe it is the highest point of the hill.

Sponsored T-shirts from Bang Adjie. I support his Lelonggalong Project.

 

The view was breath taking and soooo glad I could shoot beautiful scenery! BESTTTTT!!

 

Suppa loooovveeeee

 

  1. Ile Ape

It was such a nice idea to ride around Ile Ape! Ile Ape is an active volcano in Lewoleba (Ile: Mount; Ape: Fire) and we were excited to drove around it.

 

Ile Ape (Messi)

 

It was nice to see villages and to be called MESTER! Children in Lembata mistook us as foreigners because we wore shorts and our skins are whiter than theirs. I was kinda annoyed at first: HOW COULD THEY CALL ME MISTER and laughed as hell when Bang Adjie explained they call us Mester regardless of the gender or anything. Mester = Bule. xD I wish I could sound how they called us to you here. Mester…. Mesteeerrrr…

Anyway, Moslems and Catholics (also some Christians) live peacefully in Lembata. Around Ile Ape, I saw many Moslem villages and they were very nice to us (compared to racial and religion issue happened in Indonesia lately).

We supposed to hike Ile Ape but maybe later.

 

We passed this site. It’s a whale-bone site located in Watodiri Village.

 

Where they captured the whale.

 

  1. Tanjung Kolipadan

Kolipadan Cape/Tanjung Bahagia, same la. Still on the same day! It was far to get here actually, I already felt tired because the road wasn’t smooth along the way. So bumpy.

 

First we drove around Ile Ape and continue to the cape

 

Nevertheless it was too soon to quit and Tanjung Kolipadan was very nice!!!!!! The view was like a savannah with clear blue sky and sparkling sea on the side. OMG OMG OMG! I highly recommend this!!

 

Look like tukang rampok lol

 

On the way to the cape

 

The lighthouse (Messi)

 

Goats are everywhere!

 

Bluee

 

So sad Kak Nancy couldn’t join with us. Anyway, this is PALADA squad.

 

Spent time at the jetty before going home (Messi)

 

  1. Pulau Siput

It’s a nice small island which only visible and reachable when it’s low tide. It’s located near the port of Lewoleba and we got there by a small boat. Messi was so freak out since she was soooo afraid of the sea and she gripped my arm along the way. When she survived to cross, I was like a proud momma lol. Pulau Siput (siput means sea snail but locals call all mollusks and bivalves as siput) is like a farm to the people where they can harvest siput for dinner. It’s safe to go there around 3-9 pm before the tide comes.

 

See the pile of white sand on the left? That’s the island xD We got there by small boat.

 

Picking up dinner

 

Messi and Kak Nancy were searching for siput >.<. I preferred taking selfie with Bang Adjie; Ile Ape was behind us.

 

Maksud hati menggapai gunung, apa daya tangan tak sampai.

 

 

When we got there, it was a couple hours before Vesak and the moon was sooo bright and big. So beautiful.

 

 

  1. Taman Daun

If you’re in Lembata and you’re destined to go here, just do it. Taman Daun in a place which doesn’t have beautiful natural scenery like other places I mentioned but it offers something meaningful. I’m going to write more about it on the next post 😉

 

Enough for now! See you soon!