A road led from Luba Village down to Bena (pop: 300) where our driver sat waiting. Bena had 16 houses lined up on both sides of a rectangle containing a stone altar, ngadhus and bhagas worshipping houses. Signed the register, made a donation and began walking around the rectangle. Bena women sat on porches sorting rice, weaving Ikat sarongs and scarfs that were then hung on a bamboo pole to sell. A double take when I spotted one woman with what looked like blood around her mouth. And then she held up a Betel nut to show me what she was doing; just chewing away.
We continued along, admiring the wooden roofs in this beautiful, little village. Bena is one of the most traditional Ngada villages on the flanks of Inerie Volcano, and its stone monuments are a protected site. There are stone steps leading to the center stone altar at the highest point, above the male and female ancestor clan totems. Before the Dutch missionaries came, the Ngada worshipped a male high god and his female counterpart. Sacrifices (usually a buffalo) still take place on the megalithic stones in front of the high altar, and then the ngadhus/bhagas are smeared with blood.
Since Ricardos had already given important explanations about Ngada rituals and way of life, we didn’t spend as much time in Bena as we had in Luba. Took more photographs, chatted up whatever locals that weren’t working in the fields, and began the car journey back to Bajawa.
There was plenty of time to Internet back in Bajawa on a good connection at Warnet, followed by an early lunch/diner at Camellia’s. Our motto? Stick to what is filling and what they do best in the Lesser Sundra Islands. With all the noodles and rice we’ve eaten throughout Indonesia, our bodies probably are sufficiently carbo loaded to finish an ultra marathon. Tomorrow brings Moni and Kelimutu Volcano…