Tuesday, September 3, 2013

YOLO in Saumlaki Aug 2013

Saumlaki, on Yamdena, in the Tanimbar Islands was our first stop in the Sail Indonesia Rally after we left Darwin on July 27th.  We arrived on July 30th and were welcomed in Saumlaki with the gala festivities and traditional costumes and dancing.  They gave us all nice polo-style shirts and we wore them to the Welcoming Ceremony the next morning.  The traditional elders came down with the dancers and government officials to welcome us and give the captains of the yachts a blessing for safe journeys.  One of the elders put a cross of oil on all our foreheads after the blessing.

Traditional elders in Saumlaki. Great costumes, this traditional dress!
 The dinghy dock they built/rebuilt for us.  It was quite a scene when we were all ashore at once for some ceremony.  Dinghy madness reigned.
 Great outfits on these elders.
 Jason sipping the ceremonial coconut wine called sopi.  It was horrible stuff--like pure grain alcohol and it made me shudder with just a tiny sip.  One of the officials made sure I felt ok after he saw me grimace at the taste.
 Karen and Jason at the welcome ceremony in Saumlaki.  They'd made up huge posters and banners and signs, too.
 The local craft at the jetty where we came ashore daily.
 Elders in welcome ceremony.
 The elders presented each captain with a sash around their necks that represented 'standing' in the community.
 Looking back down the main street towards the wharf.  Tiny little shops and tons of motorcycles abound.
 Hogs for sale along the walkway from the wharf towards town.  They're still alive and just resting in the shade of a tarp.  Hog-tied, literally.
 Some of the dancers at the welcome ceremony.
 More welcome dancers.
 Main Street in Saumlaki, lined with motorcycles.
 Jason with other captains drinking the pink coconut drinks they handed to us all.
 One of the days was a full tour aboard 4 minivans with a police truck escort, complete with lights flashing, to the village of Sangliat.  It is famous for its stone boat up in the village high above the shore.  This is the shoreline beach at the bottom of the cliff.
 Jason taking pics of fellow cruisers on the stairway down to the beach from Sangliat.  The stairs were made of stone and were several different heights along the way.  The local kids seemed to skip along the stairs and the stone edges.  they've been here for hundreds of years and are worn smooth in many places.
 Karen on the steps after climbing back up from the beach.
 Kyle off Rutea jumping rope with kids in Sangliat.
 The carved prow of the stone boat.  The stone structure, built in the shape of a boat was in the center of the village at the top of the stairs.  It was built 500 years ago (or somewhere thereabouts) and the village people were either burned or buried on it (lots gets lost in translation even when we have English-speaking guides).  The platform structure has an altar/seat on it, but the local guides couldn't really tell us much about it.  It's very old and seems to have been built as a ceremonial site that may represent ancestors arriving long ago by boat.

The kids at Sangliat were all playing with toy trucks made out of a light wood or an old plastic oil or detergent container, like the one below.  Quite creative!  They made wheels, windows and such and then pulled them around on a string tied to a stick. 
 A skinny dog in the village of Sangliat.  We were killing time waiting for someone to show up to do a blessing of some sort, but they never showed up.
 The children of Sangliat shared their toy truck with Braca, the nearly-2-yr-old son of our cruiser friends on Atea.  The little blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy was the center of attention everywhere he went.
 Look closely and you can see the carving in the stone step of two hands reaching for each other.  I was told it may represent the unity of different villages.

Looking down the steps at Sangliat.
 The stone boat was too big to get into a single photo; this one shows the altar at one end of it.
 View looking from one end, across the altar towards the sea.
 The end of the boat towards the sea.
 One of the wooden trucks they boys carve here and build to play with.
 A man in a spice apple tree picking fruit and dropping it down for us to eat.  We haven't seen these since Grenada.  We ate our fill and continued our walk around town.
 Part of the day tour was a visit to a Catholic church site, used several times a year for special ceremonies. The outside altar was shaped like a boat and decorated with fish.
 A giant statue of Christ on the roof of one of the buildings at the site. 
 A giant crucifix statue on the property.

These drums were stored on the wharf and used in ceremonial dancing.
 A mosaic mural on the site of the first Dutch mission here.
 Daisy, on the left, was an invaluable contact at Saumlaki.  Here she is explaining what the foods are that were laid out for our welcome.
 Braca and the locals play while we ate at the wharf welcome ceremony.
 Some of our tour vans.  The police truck facing away on the road was our escort all day.
 The other buses in our convoy at the church site.
 The spiral staircase inside the church building with the giant statue of Christ on it.

A view of Saumlaki from the hotel on shore.
 Cruisers in a photo op at Sangliat, on the beach at the bottom of the stairs.  Note the black electrical wire draping across the trees to supply power to the residents here.
 Cruisers and kids at Sangliat.  They're at the bottom of the stairs on the beach.
 Sashes being presented to the captains at the welcoming ceremony.
 View of beach at Sangliat
Bridge construction, Indonesian style on the road to Sangliat.  Bamboo scaffolding and twine to hold the poles together.
 A canoe race was one of the events they held in our honor.  These were the winners of the traditional canoe paddling event.
 A food festival with a traditional cooking competition turned out some pretty creative and colorful food for the judges.  After the judges had visited the table, we were allowed to try the foods.
 These were the goodies set out to appease our appetites until the judging was done.  Pumpkin custard-like stuff in the middle, pink coconut gelatinous squares in the middle ring, and some chocolate cake around the outside.

Jason and some of the gala dancers who won the dance contest at our gala dinner.
 Grace, one of our coordinators, in her helmut and Neal, one of us cruisers in his sun hat, at the canoe race viewpoint on the wharf.
 Jason and more gala dancers.
 A troupe of women dancers in the gala competition.

 Dancers at the competition on our gala night.

Jason talking to some dancers. 
 Jason and Karen at the gala dinner celebration.
 Karen eating a grub worm from one of the cooking competition tables.  It was mostly empty inside; just a crunchy outside with not much flavor.  Only 2 of us cruisers were brave enough to try these.
 Karen and some gala dancers.  These people are all short!
 Musicians at the gala dance competition.
An outrigger paddle team pooped after the canoe race.  One flopped back and the other jumped into the water.
Remember those drums stored on the wharf?  Here they are being used in the gala ceremony dance competition.
 Canoes for the canoe paddler race.  True dugouts.
 Some dugouts are nicer than others.....
 More women dancers in traditional costume at the dance competition.
 Cruisers getting photos with the dancers.
 Some of the food at our welcome ceremony.
 Orchids at the waterside restaurant where we had cold Bintang beers.  A big 750ml bottle of beer at this most expensive hotel in town was only about $4 and was plenty for two to share.

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