Where to stay and what to see in Ruteng, Flores
It was now 2:30p, and we were starving. Ricardos took us to Agape Cafe in Ruteng (pronounced Rucheng). This restaurant is also recommended by Lonely Planet, and was the only place his agency considered suitable for western stomachs. Good lumpini (egg rolls), so-so bland noodles that tasted better when we added lots of chili sauce. Ruteng has two other restaurants recommended by others but Ricardos had his instructions, and no tour agency wants their clients to become ill.
Ruteng is a cool, clean city surrounded by volcanic hills and rice fields. Most tourists stay for one night only before heading back on the road. The only interesting sight in Ruteng is its market, a central meeting point for the local Manggarai people. The Manggarai weave, and wear, a typical sarong that I was only interested in seeing, not buying. With that, it was into the very stinky market thanks to vast amounts of dried fish.
The Ruteng market was deserted because of Easter weekend. All supermarkets (mini markets) in Ruteng were closed and probably would remain closed tomorrow, Easter Sunday. The market was heavy on dried fish with only one stall selling typical Manggarai sarongs that appeared to be an optical illusion when you looked at them dead on. Other than schmoozing with whatever friendly salespeople happened to be sitting around, there was nothing to do in Ruteng. We walked out of the market, the typical afternoon rain began. Fortunately, we had finished seeing all that Ruteng had to offer.
A mad dash into the car for a ride over to our hotel for tonight, Susteran Bunda Maria Hotel. We had no idea where we were staying or where it was located, since Happy Trails had changed hotels on us. Not a bad thing since Susteran Bunda Maria Hotel was considered the best available in Ruteng. Part of a monastery located east of Ruteng, Susteran Bunda Maria Hotel had very clean rooms, albeit on the small size; a room with a double bed that had one side smack up against a wall. Guess who would have to climb up and over to get to the bathroom during the night? The two-story building had 20 rooms with bathrooms, hot and cold running water, no restaurant. They do serve a small breakfast, included in the rate.
Not at all hungry for dinner since we ate lunch at 2:30p, we asked Ricardos if he could rustle up some bread to make tuna sandwiches. (Foil, easy-to-open pouches of tuna salad go everywhere with us. Great for emergencies, like now!) He asked one of the sisters, and she materialized at 9:00p carrying a plate of bread. Umm…not hungry now but thanks.