Nesi had gone on a walkabout when I knocked at his door. It was 5:45am. He’d gone to find ojeks. He came back at 6:15am, triumphant. Three ojeks were waiting for us. We were on out way to Temkesi. It took 2 and a half hours to get there, including a nice stop on a hill to see the mountains, and a vista of Timor Leste.
We got there after a difficult ride over rough mountainous terrain, and walked up a steep rocky path to the front gate of the village, where we asked permission from an old woman to enter the village. She looked about 120, but was apparently 70. A family lived with her. We ascended to the village past well-preserved beehive huts, and we met the village chief, who gave us permission to take photos. We sat with him and his cousin in the communal circle, and a communal betel nut box was passed around. I politely abstained this time. Charlie accepted, his mouth turning red as he chewed. The chief looked like he was wearing bright red lipstick, a strange contrast to his shriveled walnut textured weather-beaten brown skin. He was really friendly, and again we had a translated conversation. We wandered the village, which was quiet, and then a young lad who we saw in the first hut offered to take us to the top of a cliff for a panoramic view of the surrounding villages. We scaled the same perilous cliff where, every 6 years, the village boys have to climb with no ropes and with a live, pure white goat strapped to their backs, before slaughtering it, roasting it, eating it, and coming down to become a man in the village.
The climb up was difficult, and large boulders were loose, but the views were perfect. A great bird’s eye view of the beehive huts dotted around the lush green landscapes far away from civilization in a forgotten and little visited corner of this fantastic archipelago.
We rode back on the ojeks, and checked out one more village on the way back before grabbing our bags and going to the bus station, where we boarded a bus bound for Kupang. Nesi left us in Niki-Niki, with a cool Rp 1,000,000 in his pocket, and Charlie and hopped off in Soe, checking back into the same hotel. Over padang food later, we reminisced on what had been an amazing few days of village experiences. Superb.