Strong Arms for Kids

 
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After waiting 6 hours in the airport for my plane to take off, then riding in the oldest most rickety old airplane I have ever flown in (and rickety is definitely not an adjective you want to use for your plane) where it didn't matter if you shut off your cell phone and all electrical devices and then landing at an airport where there are children gathered on the side of the runway to watch the airplanes land, this turned out to be my absolute favorite part of my trip.

I flew to the east end of the island and made my way west by land.  I started at Kelimutu (pictured above) then went to the town Bajawa.  In Bajawa I went on a full day tour.  This was seriously one of those days where you are like "this is why I do this", "this is why I spend thousands of dollars to travel across the globe to sleep in cockroach infested hotel rooms, and sit on non-airconditioned buses for hours on end" just for days like the one I had in Bajawa. 

Upon arriving to Bajawa, I met some of the tour guides that were hanging out in front of my hotel.  If you end up in Bajawa, Flores one day, search out Maxmillian or Florencia.  I am so glad I joined their tour.  It was a full day tour (I'm talking 12 hour tour) all for about $35, and it was definitely money well spent.  They are from Bajawa and know this place better than anyone. 
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We started out by going to some traditional villages.  There was a special ceremony going on that day and after we watched the ceremony, our guide spent, at least, an hour going into great detail about the ceremony.  He was so knowledgeable and so passionate about the history of his people. 
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After watching the ceremony and watching the villagers preparing for their big feast, we were getting pretty hungry ourselves, and were wondering when and where we would have lunch.  Florencia ended up bringing all 15 of us back to his house for lunch that his family cooked for us.  I can't tell you how nice it was to have a home cooked meal.  And, of course, that is the #1 way to learn about a local cuisine.  I was worried about there being 1) enough food for all of us starving tourists 2) there being vegetarian food, but, at least, I was still eating fish at that time. And I can't tell you how satisfied I felt after this meal of fried tempeh and tofu, vegetables in a clear broth soup, and fresh grilled tuna.

After our bellies were satisfied, we headed to a local horse race.  These were a series of horse races leading up to the big horse race that was going to take place on their Independence Day.  The horses are really small in Indonesia, so the jockeys were between the ages of 4-9 years old.  It was so much fun to watch, especially since our guide's horse was racing, as well.
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Then when we thought our day was done, we headed to these amazing hot springs.  They were the perfect temperature, unlike the hot springs I met in Sumatra that were literally boiling, and I accidently put my foot into.  It was the perfect end to the perfect day.  Well, actually, the perfect end came later, when we all met up at the local restaurant for some cold Bintang beers and some more local grub.
 


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