#3, Sulawesi, Sept. 29, 2011

Well hooray! Rina did get my visa extension and I now have my passport and visa back in my hot little hand, and that can be off my mind.

I did some walking and shopping in Makassar, mainly to see what I could buy and bring home for the grandkids at the end of my trip. I found huge numbers of gold jewelry shops and a few handicraft shops.

Some observations:

*Virtually ALL men here smoke, but I don’t see women smoking.

*While there are many pretty scenes, there are lots of totally polluted, icky, plastic-strewn, trash-covered views, too.

*I see young girls playing strenuous games (in this heat) wearing their close-fitting headgear. I saw some older girls running in maroon and gold sweats, again with their headgear. Not all women wear it, though.

*In the rural regions, the typical house is artistic and functional.

*No car seatbelts are ever worn. Once when I was sitting in the front passenger seat, I began to dig around to get the seatbelt around me, but the driver sternly shook his head not to. Then I noticed that the buckle receptacle was missing—it had been taken out to make room for a middle seat.

*When I’m asked ‘my country’ and I reply, “America,” many people immediately mention President Obama with obvious delight. As a young boy he lived in Indonesia for four years, so they kind of claim him as their own.

*The cats in Sulawesi have bobbed tails—it must be in the breeding as I haven’t seen any with ‘normal’ long tails.

On Saturday I got a pete pete to the Daya Terminal and then got a Kijang (these are Toyota SUV’s) to Pare Pare. This was same song, second verse—hot, crowded, trolling, bad roads, delays, lunch (at 11:00!) but this is ‘local color,’ isn’t it? I began to see some interesting small mountains on the way.

I arrived in Pare Pare about 1:00 and got a pete pete to the area near my hotel. Then I got a becak the rest of the way.

They were clearly not set up for tourists—I had been told in Makassar that “nobody goes to Pare Pare.” But I managed to get a hotel room and then wanted a beer and lunch. None of the restaurants had beer, but the desk clerk told me that I could take a becak to a ‘beer store’ (actually he really didn’t speak English, but we managed), which I did, and bought three cold beers. I brought them back to the hotel and put two in the drinks cooler in the lobby. Later the young man rearranged the drinks to conceal the beer!

I drank one beer and then had a nice lunch at a warung nearby—shrimp, chicken, rice and two veggies, topped off with several fingerling bananas that were at each table.

In the evenings in Pare Pare the harbor comes alive with food warungs—dozens of them. In this small city (150,000 people) everybody must eat there in the evening, judging by the capacity.






I walked up and down the harbor streets as that seemed to be where all the activity was.








The next day I got a very good Kijang (no trolling, good seats, only seven people and the driver wore a seatbelt!) to go to Rantepao, a small town in the Tana Toraja, a beautiful area in the mountains populated with a people who still practice many of their traditions, including funerals, which are the highlight of a person’s life (!) We only stopped twice, and at one stop, I ate a burassa, a ricey thing garnished with sauerkraut-like stuff, cooked in banana leaf, which was very tasty.














Today I hit the jackpot! There are lots of ceremonies around here for tourists to observe, but the day after I arrived there was a ‘noble’ funeral scheduled. I hired a guide who took me on a motorbike (I kind of hate them) to participate. We arrived about 10:00 AM at a specially constructed compound just for this funeral. I was told that the old man had died months ago, but it takes time to plan this large a celebration. It is a seven day affair, this was the second day.

About a thousand guests were congregated who processed in, led by three ‘warriors.’ Actually this happened several times as guests kept arriving.





Many brought pigs or water buffalo to be slaughtered as respect to the deceased. The pigs were slaughtered today, but not the buffalo.




The pigs were taken across the road, out of sight although my guide and I and some others were on hand to see this operation.  Luckily I grew up on a farm so I know where meat comes from.  First they killed the pig, then cut out the entrails, saving the blood in bamboo tubes.  Next they singed the pig to burn off the hair.  They finished cutting it up back in the compound with the guests watching.  They distributed pieces of the pigs to ‘special’ guests.


-Women from the local village were busy all day processing in with trays of glass mugs to distribute coffee and tea, brought by the men in pots, and also cookies.

I enjoyed these treats twice during the morning.





There was a separate viewing structure for the tourists and their guides, but we were most welcome. During a family procession one of the ladies introduced herself to me (in English) as one of the daughters of the deceased and thanked me for coming! I took her photo.

-At lunchtime food was served on heavy waxed paper squares, which was rice, pork with ginger, chillied hard-cooked eggs, and vegetables. I think there was also some fish but I didn’t have any. We got sealed glasses of water to drink.

The grandchildren or great-grandchildren formed an honor guard for the guests to process through. These processions kept being repeated. A master of ceremonies, using a very loud amplifying system, read off the names of all the guests, and also later the names of the donors of the pigs and buffalo. There was a troup of singer/dancers who also processed in several times and sang songs about the achievements of the deceased, I was told.





The widow was seated on a high structure, which also held the round coffin, which had been kept in his house since his death.

-Some other family members would be with her from time to time. There were ‘chicken’ symbols on many of the structures. Apparently the people are nominally Christian, but keep to their old ways, especially dealing with funerals.

About 2:00 things seemed to be ‘taking a break’ so my guide motorbiked me back to Rantepao, about a half hour’s drive. The scenery around here is beautiful—so tranquil and so ‘Indonesian!’ Unfortunately just as we were nearing Rantepao, two motorbikes collided with each other head-on, right in front of us! Each was carrying two young men who were thrown helter-skelter. As we went past (my guide didn’t stop but there were many cars and bikes around) one seemed to be unconscious but the other three were moving. They were all wearing helmets, thank goodness—as was I. My guide said it was required by law. I knew I didn’t like motorbikes!

But I’m eager to see more of Tana Toraja!


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