Waerebo: An Enchanting Old Village In Flores

I wrote this for www.lovecreatewander.com as a guest blogger but since the website is currently down, I repost my journey to Waerebo here.

This was actually a sudden trip, I didn’t have any plan to visit Flores this year. But when a friend offered me the 4-day overland trip around Flores with the other 4 people, I didn’t let myself have chance to refuse. Why not?
The starting point was in Labuan Bajo with connecting flight through Denpasar, Bali. Since we needed have a very early start in the morning, I arrived in Labuan Bajo one day before the overland trip started.

The next morning we headed to Denge Village in order to access Waerebo or Wae Rebo, our first mission to explore.

Waerebo or Wae Rebo with its 7 traditional houses is an old Manggaraian Village and has been considered a World Heritage site by UNESCO. The visitors are offered to experience the everyday life of the local community, they even have an mbaru niang (the traditional house) that was named niang maro as the guesthouse. All guests can stay here like locals, sleep on tikar –woven mats made from pandanus leaves. Staying here costs Idr 225,000/night including entrance fee, breakfast, lunch, dinner.

Getting there is not easy. A 3-hour trekking is the only way to get there because the village is only reachable by foot with a tough trail. But before that, a 6-hour drive from Labuan Bajo to reach Denge, the last village accessible by vehicle, is needed.

 

Trekking to the village

Trekking to the village

 

At Denge Village, we stopped by the homestay of Pak Blasius Monta (Pak means mister in Indonesian language) to get guidance how to reach Waerebo. He appointed Michael as our guide. All guests must have a local guide that’s appointed by him. Michael is actually a noble of Waerebo’s first bloodline, that we acknowledged later. I’m glad I had chance to have a picture with him.

 

A shot with Michael

A shot with Michael. I was wearing hand-woven scarf of Waerebo as a headband.

 

I’m not a hiker, so the 3-hour hike up through the rocky road, rain forest and some cliffs seemed a bit tough for me, plus it rained! But amazingly I could do that. Most people even needed 4 hours, wow!

At 6 pm, we were welcomed by an elder of Wae Rebo Village, warm one that charmed me to the fullest. “Once you are here, you are no longer people from Jakarta or Surabaya or anywhere else. But you are the people of Wae Rebo until you leave this place.”

There’s a rule that once reaching the village, no one is allowed to talk and take picture until the end of welcome ceremony. So after the ceremony finally ended, I started to take action with my camera. Snap snap snap!

 

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At night before the dinner time, I encouraged myself to take a bath with cold mountain water. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel cold at all, it was so fresh instead!
The dinner was served really late that night, fortunately I got some snacks to kill the hunger. Before dinner, they gathered all guests inside the appointed mbaru niang to explain about their 7 traditional houses and the history of the village.

 

Dinner time!

Dinner time!

 

Mbaru niang which means drum houses in Manggaraian language. Four of them were renovated by Indonesian Government and a team of Jakarta-based architects in 2009 until 2011.

– 1st floor is called lutur, used for daily activities such as eating, sleeping, cooking, etc.

– 2nd floor is called lobo, as food storage.

– 3rd floor is called lentar, as seed storage.

– 4th floor is called lempa rae, a place to store raw food for a long period of time.

– 5th floor is called hekang kode or monkey’s house, used for ancam bobong ceremony

 

Mbaru Niang

Mbaru Niang

In the morning before our departure from Waerebo, we went up to the higher land for capturing sunrise but unfortunately it didn’t show up as we expected. Then we went down to interact with the villagers.

 

Mingled with the next generation of the village

Mingled with the next generation of the village

 

I got excited to see how a lady hand-pounded the coffee beans and when I tried to mingle with the kids.

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Drying Coffee Beans

Coffee beans are dried like this before they pound them

 

I was so sad when we left Waerebo that morning for another old village to explore, Bena. Don’t miss my next post about this.

 

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