Flores Pt.II - The Dawn of days

[gallery type="rectangular" ids="1771,1772,1773,1774"]The stone steps rose higher and further apart as the journey went on, though it was hard to tell for we had no lights and it was an hour before sunrise. We had come unprepared; our cellphones were our source of illumination, ‘cept for the light from the other hikers meters in front of us; we were content to follow in their guided footsteps. Armed perhaps only with ignorance, we hiked up the steps of mount Kelimutu, Flores, exerting every ounce of our concentration so as not to trip – the journey took us a good half an hour. Arriving at the summit, 1700 meters above sea level, we noticed that we – along with the travelers in front of us – weren’t the first to arrive; others had come before us. The sky had turned an otherworldly color from the rising sun, tucked beyond the clouds, and the hikers had settled down facing the east towards the volcano lakes and the sea of clouds. There on the summit, peddlers hiked to sell coffee and tea, along with other snacks for visitors; most of whom are foreigners. “Kelimutu coffee!” A man announced, standing close to us, “Kelimutu coffee, made with the lake water!” He continued. The man spoke English quite well as he conversed with many of the visitors, offering coffee or tea, or merely telling the stories about the volcano. The story goes that the three lakes atop the volcano were given three different names; the lake of old men, the lake of young men and maidens, and the lake of demons. It was also said that Kelimutu housed the spirits of those who died in the lands of Flores, and those of massively unclean hearts (my guide mentioned the name of a government official who had recently visited Kelimutu), will cause the water to change color. Among the talks and the legends, the sun slowly crept from the clouds, shedding golden light to the surface of the volcano, and then we saw it – Kelimutu at its most true, representing the dawn or dusk, the source or the destination. Whatever it represented, it was quite magical. Perhaps it was the journey, or the actual view, but it made it worth it; I set my foot firmly on the summit of mount Kelimutu, and the dawn was the stuff of wonders. As the day matured, more coffee and tea were made, more crackers and noodles were consumed, and the summit became livelier with chatter in numerous languages – Dutch, German, French, Indonesian, and local dialects. Introductions were made, and more chatter about local folklore seemed to arise from the crowds, when suddenly, a local pointed at something. “Monkeys,” she said. A band of monkeys had joined in on the crowds, attracted by the potential for food. “They usually come over for snacks given by the tourists,” one of the peddlers told me. Indeed, some snacks sold were intended as bait – “monkey bait,” another peddler announced, trying to sell fried bananas. The monkey was happy enough to receive easy food, and the tourists were content with taking photos – both sides were happy, though what repercussions would arise from such actions, no one knows. We trekked down the mountain around three hours after we went up, and finally laid our eyes of the path that we blindly follow hours prior. On our right, next to the steps that we were so struggling to ascend before, was an enormous chasm; we had been walking next to a hill that we couldn’t see. Surprisingly the stone steps were better than I had thought of it to be, though no less scarier as it narrowly twist and turn down the rocky mountain. When we arrived back at our transports, it was nearly 8 AM, and more people were coming to check the summit. We descended down the mountain back to the village nearby, Moni, and proceed to continue our journey to the rest of Flores. Another day, another trip, another wonders.