Wednesday, August 03, 2011

The volcano in Banda which I climbed yesterday, 665 meters!!

Women in thevillage where the stone boats were, dancing and uncovering the feast.

The Dutch fort built in 1670 in Banda
The market in Banda with a big passenger ship in the background.
A boat being constructed in Banda, by hand, made out of almond wood.
The nutmeg and almond orchard.
Nutmegs drying in the sun, with the outer covering called mace on the top corner, it's red.

Dancing at the welcome ceremonies in Saumlaki.The village on the island with the nutmeg trees.
A floating platform, which the villagers fish from, our first site when reaching Indonesia.

A basket I purchased in the market, the woman I am with is the creator of the basket. It cost about $2.00.

We are in the Banda group of islands now, we had a great sail over. It was about 48 hours sailing, and we had wind on the quarter at about 15-20 knots, a sailors dream. We approached the islands at dawn and their outline gradually became visible as the skies brightened. It was gloomy, with rain clouds threatening., the top of the 665m volcano was shrouded in mist. The black scars of the lava flows stood out in contrast to the lush tropical forests that covered the rest of the slope. As we entered the anchorage, we spied the sailboats tied up med style, anchored bow out and then tied from the stern to shore, it should be on a postcard!
These islands used to known as the Spice Islands and islanders have been trading the spices they grow for hundreds of years. They were colonized by the Dutch who wanted a monopoly of the spice trade and the shenanigans they got up to over the years were typical colonial behaviour. Since arriving we have toured an old Dutch fort, had a delicious dinner at a local guest house and today we set off to another island to tour the orchards.
We learned about how nutmeg, cinnamon and almonds are grown. The almond trees are hundreds of years old and very tall, the villagers basically just wait for the birds to eat the outside of the almonds and they fall off the trees and then the bit with the nut in them are collected from the ground. The cinnamon is the bark of the tree, we picked the leaves of the tree and crumbled them and they had such a wonderful aroma. The nutmeg has three parts that are used. The outer shell has a substance they made jelly out of and then there is the mace, a red covering on the nut that is used in cooking, the inner nut then has to be smashed to get at the nutmeg. I bought some nutmeg in the market and am looking forward to having fresh grated nutmeg in some yogurt that I am making.
I am planning on climbing the volcano tomorrow, it is there and since we climbed one in Tonga and one in Vanuatu, how can I not do it hear. Barry’s ankle was acting up today so he is still unsure whether or not he is going to make the trek. There is supposed to be great snorkeling by the lava flow so we may try that the next day. Ramadan started on Aug 1st and lasts the whole month. For people of the Muslin faith this means they do not eat from sun up to sun down. It feels a bit odd to eat in front of them but I don’t feel the need to join them in their fast. This group of islands is predominately Muslim, this morning I was woken by the call to prayers at 0500, it just made me realize what a long way we are from home and how exotic these islands really are.
Sorry the pictures are out of sequence but the internet connection is too slow to fix it up.