Continued from yesterday”¦ There were a handful of tourists up there, and we were all disappointed that we missed out on the sunrise. A few left right away. We had been told that as the sun rises higher in the sky the colors continue to change from what they were at sunrise and that we should hang out for the morning instead of leaving at dawn like most of the tourists. We waited, along with a couple more stragglers, for the sun to break through. Instead, the clouds continued to move in and eventually enshrouded us completely so we could not see any of the lakes at all. And it started to rain some more. We gave up and decided to go. Lonely Planet had said the sight of the lakes in the light is so stunning that if you go on a cloudy day, you should go back the next day to see it in the light. We wouldn’t be coming back the next day and are sad about missing out on the best attraction in the entire Nusa Tengarra province.
We know that on the walk down there are amazing viewpoints of the surrounding volcanic mountains that are taller than Kelimutu, and also great views of the valley below. Of course, we could see nothing at all beyond a few feet other than mist. The foliage on the mountain is lush and green. We felt like we were in a movie, like maybe Lord of the Rings, walking down a sharply descending and winding dirt path, surrounded by forest on all sides, and unable to see the horizon in the soft, hazy light. Bad guys on horses wielding swords were bound to magically emerge out of the fog and run past us at any moment.
We asked the driver to take us to the near by town of Moni for breakfast. The driver picked a hotel that serves western style breakfasts. In Indonesia, they eat the same kinds of foods all three meals, they don’t have different foods for different times of the day, like we do. We tried pineapple pancakes, which are regular pancakes with chunks of sweet pineapple, and fried pineapple, which are chunks of pineapple dipped in batter and fried. Both were good. After breakfast, we took a quick tour of Moni, which took two seconds. It consists of a cluster of buildings that look much the same as the other villages, except for a couple modern buildings and a couple larger bamboo buildings that look like hotels.
We headed back down the mountain. It is a beautiful drive, and probably would be even more so on a sunny, clear day. We saw the terraced rice fields we have been hearing so much about in and amongst the indigenous forest. We had seen unplanted rice fields on Timor, and Ony had said they couldn’t plant until after it rained some more. But here the little terraces that stair stepped down the mountains were green with the early stages of the plant growth.
Like Timor, there are many small villages set close together all along the way, so there are never very big stretches of untouched land visible from the road. It is a mix of small bamboo houses, agriculture, and untamed jungle. There were many pedestrians on the road, walking from village to village, most carrying what looked to be heavy loads on their heads. There were also a lot of vehicles on the road. Our driver was something of an aggressive maniac, and there were several times we thought we were going to collide with a scooter or a tree. He really made us appreciate Anish, our driver on Timor. We never feared for our safety with him, even on the most horrid of roads imaginable and on traffic filled roads with other maniac drivers coming at us.
As green as Flores is, we were surprised that there weren’t very many flowers or butterflies visible. We saw more in Timor. With a name like “Flowers”, one just assumes you will see lots of flowers. Granted, it is possible that the flowers just hadn’t opened today being as it was so gray and overcast.
As we got to lower altitudes, it did get warmer, but it wasn’t hot anymore. It was raining in Ende, as well, and the rain had apparently broken the heat wave. Thank goodness. The boys were again playing on the pier, and again they were excited to see us.