The North Road

March 2015

Exploring the North Road from Maumere to Mbay – learning about places not visited before.
We left at 8.00 a.m.  Were told it would take us 5 hrs, ended up being 8. Too much to see for one pair of eyes.
First part of the road is perfect. We turned right at the fork where you also can go straight to Ende. After that the road got really bad, basically almost all the way to Mbay.
Bad road and spectacular sceneries!

Passing lots of small desa with communities which have been resettled after  Mt. Rokatenda vulcano eruption on Pulau Palue on 10 August 2013. Talking with some ladies who say they do not want to move back, are content with their new village by the sea. Most new housing was paid by government Kabupaten Ende

Meeting a local cashew farmer and talking about his crop. He can collect 4 to 5 ton per year, sells it at Rp 25.000 per kilo = approximately 1.65 euro. His son is at university on Java.

Meeting Maria in Wolowae, the only Rumah Makan we passed in 8 hrs. Delicious lunch with prawns, chicken, fish, local vegetables and rice plus a free coffee at Rp 60.000 for two. Maria left Cambodia in 2009 to Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia where she met her Flores husband. She never saw her Cambodian family again.

Crossing rivers and endless empty lands with forests and swamps. Passing rice fields, cashew and coconut. Passing the new electricity plant to supply Ngada, Ende and Nagekeo.

Learning about Domba (sheep) which can live in Nagekeo because of the vast hills with grass and learning about salt – Near Mbay developing the second largest salt production of Indonesia.

Once arrived in Mbay we met with Frederikus Lena Djago, rector of Politeknik St. Wilhelmus Boawae – talking about animal feed. Local farmers grow corn. They planned to sell their crops to a buyer from Jakarta. The price offered was too low. At present farmers buy imported animal feed from Surabaya, at Rp 480.000 to 500.000 for 50 Kg. Basically the farmers are buying their own processed crops back for high price, while being offered very low price for their crops. Now Politeknik is planning to produce the animal food themselves, creating local business and selling to the farmers at a lower price than what they need to pay for imported animal food.

Overnight we stayed in Mbay in Hotel Sinar Kasih. It took us quite some time to find the place because the streets in Mbay have no name signs. Mind you, the hotel was fine, located in a quiet street, but by no means it looks like the picture they have on their home page !

That evening met for dinner with the rector of the Salt Academy – official name Akademi Komunitas Negeri Teknologi Garam Nagekeo. Their program is unique. Students from all walks of life can join and there is no maximum age limit, nor do you need any specific previous education. A pensioned farmer and a house wife were one of the first graduates. The Academy was established to support Indonesia becoming self-sufficient regarding salt production.

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Please note: on this map they indicate 5 hrs and 22 minutes to reach Mbay. That was not our experience – it took us 8 hours, including the lunch break at Maria’s in Wolowae.

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Travelled with Nikolaus Salo