It’s a hot, sunny Easter as I sit at an eco-lodge in Flores, Indonesia,
reflecting on the last few weeks. Flores is a world apart from Bali,
which is a world apart from Java. Indonesia’s richness continues to
Indonesia is a wide (as wide as the US) archpelago of islands, and Java
is a longish thin island along the lower edge of the archipelago. Bali
is a small island directly to the right of Java, and Flores is a small
island, a few islands to the right of Bali.
There’s such cultural diversity from one island to another. And we’re
only scratching the surface with several weeks on three islands —
Indonesia’s many islands have multiple ethnic and cultural groups, with
equally diverse languages and religions. It almost resembles a set of
miniature continents, visually and conceptually. We’ve gone from
visiting some Christian friends in mostly Muslim Java, to seeing hybrid
Hindu temples on Bali, to being asked if we’re going to church on
Easter Sunday on Flores.
Flores’ Christianity is also hybrid; it’s mixed with the local animist
traditions. Long ago, it was a colonized by the Portuguese. I think I can hear people singing a hymn as I write this,
sitting on the seaside porch, looking out onto grasslands, sea, and
another island. Some will eat their traditional Easter meal of dog
today (I hear the big black one is tastiest).
Flores has a mix of Malay and Melanesian peoples. There are some
Muslims from Java here too. Traditions of groups throughout the island
are diverse, and I hear there’s a matrilinear society on one of the
There aren’t many tourists here right now; some were scared off by the
Bali bombs. But there’s not a lot of dependency on tourism; we were
told that most people are still farmers here. Good service is also hard
to get here, but that seems a compromise for being in an uncrowded,
fairly unspoiled location. The people are quite friendly, and we’ve
really enjoyed talking with our fellow travellers here.
I’m definitely tempted to return and explore more of Indonesia, as a
month isn’t long enough to develop much of an understanding of the