The North Road

2015 Taking the North Road from Maumere to Mbay, learning about places not visited before.

Hired a driver and went exploring the North Coast from East to West with Nikolaus Salo. We left Maumere at 8.00 a.m. The map says it would take us five hours to reach Mbay, it ended up being eight hours instead 🙂 Too much to see for one pair of eyes.

First part of the road was 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, the capital of Nagekeo.
Bad road and spectacular sceneries !
Passing lots of small desa with communities which have been resettled after Mount Rokatenda vulcano eruption on Pulau Palue on 10 August 2013. Some 2000 people were evacuated form the island. Talking with some ladies who said they do not want to move back, they are content with their new village by the sea. We passed many of these new settlements – the new housing was mostly financed by the government of Kabupaten Ende.

Meeting a cashew farmer and talking about his cashew crop. He can collect 4 to 5 ton per year and sells it at 25.000 per kilo = approximately 1.65 euro. This way he can support his son to study in university on Java.

Meeting Maria in the only Rumah Makan we passed in 8 hrs in Wolowae. Delicious lunch with prawns, chicken, fish, local vegetables and rice plus a free coffee at 60.000 IDR.

Maria told us she left Cambodia in 2009, fleeing to Malaysia via Myanmar and Thailand In Malaysia she met her husband from Wolowae and together they settled back on Flores. 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. Learning about salt – near Mbay a company is developing the second largest salt production of Indonesia.

During our 8-hour travel we met only one other car, a handful motorbikes and two mini busses – the regular daily connecting ride between Mbay and Maumere. An empty road !

Once arrived in Mbay we met up with Frederikus Lena Djago, the 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 480.000 to 500.000 IDR for 50 KG. Basically the farmers are buying back their own processed crops for a 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.

Next was meeting the rector of the Akademi Komunitas Teknologi Garam Nagekeo – Salt Academy – which offers a unique vocational training about salt processing. This academy is open to anyone without specific qualifications, besides being an adult. A pensioned farmer and a housewife were some of the first graduates.

Overnight we stayed in Mbay in Hotel Sinar Kasih which actually was pretty good but does not look at all like the picture on their home page ! It’s located in a quiet street and not  by the sea. It took us a quite a while to find the address, since Mbay streets had no name signs.

The next day we met the Regent of Nagekeo and he explained the reason for no name signs in the streets – Nagekeo is a ‘young’ district. It split off from Ngada district and was established in 2007, with Mbay as it’s capital and residence of the local government. Their priority was to set up all government buildings and improve the infrastructure of the city and the name signs were not the most pressing matter to solve at that time.

Nagekeo – Breathtaking views all along, so natural, so beautiful and still so undeveloped.

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