#8 Sulawesi, Nov. 1, 2011

My excursion to Airmadidi was fun and productive. I got a mikrolet (van/bus) to the Paal 2 Terminal, and then got another to go to Airmadidi, about a half-hour ride. I was going to try to find the waruga there, which are pre-Christian tombs. As I got off the mikrolet, a young man with a motorbike responded to my “Waruga?” question; I got on behind him and off we went. He took me to a cemetery with these strange tombs. The corpses were put into them in an upright fetal position, along with personal items to be used in the afterlife. Nobody seems to know their age, but the images on the ‘hats’ of the tombs were very exotic!

The sky was threatening rain, so I had to cut short my visit. As we left the site, we passed a clothes-washing facility with a woman doing her laundry wearing a raincoat!
The motorbike and I arrived back at the terminal just in time to get me on a mikrolet going back to Manado before the rain came. Showers come up very quickly here, and are over just as quickly.

The next day I took two mikrolets and then a bus to Tomohon, a small town up in the mountains. Indonesia sits on a real hotspot regarding volcanic activity. Mt. Lokon is a beautiful volcanic mountain which I photographed as I walked (and walked!) uphill to the Highland Resort after being let off the bus. I didn’t know that was Mt. Lokon then, but when I got checked into the resort, the desk clerk pointed it out and told me that I ‘should have been here yesterday’ as Mt. Lokon erupted 1.4 km into the air! It’s a favorite mountain for hikers to climb, but is closed now, after the eruption. It has been erupting intermittently since July 14th.

My 2009 LP Guidebook is somewhat out of date, as one would expect, as prices are somewhat higher now. However, the price of the transportation has gone down! Twice the mikrolet or bus going out of Manado was slightly cheaper than the book said. The mikrolet here, going into Tomohon, according to the book would cost 4,000 R. When I watched the other passengers pay, they paid 2,000 R, so I did too, to no objection from the driver.

A trip on a mikrolet to the town of Tomohon (my hotel is out of town about 5 km) led me to the market, and WHAT a market! Remember I said that the Minahasans ate everything with four legs? Well, they certainly do. In the market they were killing and butchering dogs, cats, rats, bats, snakes and the usual fish, chickens, cattle and pigs. So what makes the former ones ‘different’ than the latter? I don’t know, but it took a while for this farm girl’s stomach to calm down so I could buy some bananas.

There were many live dogs in cages. Now and then a man would pull one’s head up with a ‘dog catcher’ device and another would club it on the head with a sturdy wooden bat. Then (as with all the small animals) they would use a torch and de-hair it, which is why all the small animals look black.

Of course there were other interesting parts of the market, too. A woman was being very fussy about the rice that she would buy. The seller, with a metal tube with a sharp point on one end, would stick it into a cloth sack of rice and pull out a handful of the grains, depositing them in the woman’s hand. She would examine the rice, and then they would try another. A little boy was standing in front of some good-lookin’ squash; all in all it was a unique experience.

I had noticed that mikrolets seemed to go off their route to take people to their homes or other destinations. Coming back to Kinilow on the mikrolet, I asked the driver if he would take me all the way up the hill to the Highland Resort, where I’m staying. I held up the money I was offering and he accepted. (This with a few words and some gestures)

Later that day I decided to have my main meal at a restaurant recommended by the LP Guidebook. There was no good way to get there, but I just stood on the road, and when a mikrolet came to that corner to go back to Tomohon, I asked him to take me the other direction to the Pemandangan Restaurant with supposedly a killer view over Manado. We settled on the price and off we went.

When I got to the restaurant, the view, although a little hazy, was stupendous. I ordered a beer and then looked at the menu (no English) so I chose the second-most expensive entrée, as usually around here, that’s good fish. However, I forgot where I was and another patron who could speak English told me that I had just ordered doggie! He helped me change my order to chicken (much cheaper than dog!) along with some veggies, bean soup and rice. He was very surprised that I didn’t have a car and driver waiting outside and that I was alone. He asked me how I expected to get back to my hotel (several km all uphill). Actually when I was finished, I just stood outside and pretty soon a car stopped and gave me a ride.

The next day the hotel provided a free ride back to Manado, to the Regina Hotel. At lunch time, rather than taking a mikrolet, of which there were plenty (!) I walked to McDonalds to use their wifi, and then went across the street to my favorite restaurant. While eating, three girls were in some kind of bicycle contraption and when I took their picture, they invited me to join them. I couldn’t because I was eating; when I looked for them later when I was finished, they had disappeared. But that tells you how friendly the people are here—they really are.

Today I will be flying to Bali to spend the last nine days of my trip, and then it will be time to head home on Nov. 11th.

Carol

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