Bajawa is a hinterland town for nearby harbors and is part of the coffee making system of this area. Located in the middle of Flores although close to the coasts, Bajawa is a highland village in the centre of a ring of mountains. Bajawa is a lovely little pace and well worth a visit if you are staying in any of the surrounding villages or passing through. This is due to the nearby volcanoes, the gorgeous hot springs and the surrounding villages that area of particular interest. These surrounding village have retained there unique traditions and social practices that are refreshing to view and consider, particularly the village of Ngada. Ngada is of particular interest in physical village set up and the culture within. Firstly the village consists of Indonesian style thatched huts that although are common in Indonesia, here area arranged and presented in a different way.
The distinctive layout is formed around rows of huts comprised of Bamboo and thatched roofs located around a inner courtyard. There are many stone alters that are the meeting place of spiritual and sacrifice ceremonies. Usually it is a large animal such as a buffalo or a cow that is scarified at one of the two poles, the first for the female part of their traditions and the other for that of the male. Each house has an elaborate thatched roof that begins at a normal angle before turning into an extremely steep angle up to the point in the middle. At the top of the roof there is invariably either a figure of a man with a spear or a small birdhouse sized house. The house is said to be the place in which the sprits of past family members reside, if the deceased has been evil or not good enough to gain entry to the house they will be banished to wander the village lost for eternity. As the village is Christian this is a strange belief that seems to be their adoption of a heaven and hell.
The other unique cultural aspect of this village is the matrilineal and matriarchal way in which they are run. In this community the females hold all of the power including the land and the governing of the village. Females have the unshared decision whether they wish to divorce and are allowed to remarry and it is the man who must leave his family to join the females whose name continues. Men how ever have the exclusive ability to have more than one wife although it is unclear how this works ni terms of tribe names etc.
After experiencing this amazing culture and the effects this kind of social structure has you can go for a walk up to one of the volcanoes or relax in and around the hot natural springs which are a true wonder of the area. Bajawa is without doubt an area worth visiting as the surrounding villages are particularly interesting and the area is very beautiful. Bajawa is a true place of classic Indonesian beauty with a rich and diverse array of cultures.