Kalabahi is the main town in the province of Alor. We arrived there after an overnighter from Kupang and were greeted by a local man called Ahmed who organised laundry, diesel and a tour of the area. Kalabahi, like all the other towns is in the process of getting ready for the national festival of independence on 17th August, so we saw the town sprucing up for the upcoming festivities. Banners, flags, new paint and marching bands. It looked lovely and very clean. The second day we went up to a traditional village to see how the locals lived many years ago and some still live in these villages today. We met the chief, who showed us their houses and way of life. It was a long hike up a very steep hill, really hot and a difficult climb, but we saw elderly ladies going up and down carrying heavy loads. Our bus could not get up to the top so we only climbed the last part but we arrived exhausted!
We also visited another village, this one was not so high and therefore was cooler. We were met by the chief who promptly drew his sword – this gave us all a little gasp, but then they crossed swords and asked us to break through to be greeted by the ladies of the region who had all gathered to sing to us and dance with us. Our awkward dance movements caused a lot of laughter and we had a great day dancing with them all – even though neither of us could understand our languages, we managed to communicate quite well. They wanted lots of photos and selfies which we were happy to oblige. Their costumes were different to any others we had seen. They were actually made of bark from one of the local trees. I had a bag of the same bark around my neck for most of the afternoon and it was very scratchy – it could be why they all changed back into their western clothes as soon as we started making tracks! They were a beautiful bunch of ladies, and I was quite impressed with their fitness level as some of them were quite elderly.
Our days on Alor were spent shopping, wandering around the town, making friends with the locals and passage planning. We had many visitors to the boat – even climbing up onto the back steps just for the fun of it. We spent 5 days here but the rest of Indonesia beckons…..