Introduction

This Photo was taken on Arkhipus Residence, Ciputat Timur, Tangerang Selatan, Indonesia, January 2018

Eric Mwirigi Kithao is not an Indonesian but a great Kenyan young man who helped me out back in October 2015 when I was travelling around Mt. Kenya in searching for one of the best known “specialty coffee producer”  in that area back than. I spent 3 days with him doing the impossible since there was almost no information at all about this certain producer. Yes, Eric found it as we were on our way – asking people along the way.

Out of this intense days we’ve built deeper relationship as years gone by and when he finished his bachelor as an english teacher in Kenya, I offered him to come to do 6 months homestay in Flores by the greatest coffee farmers in whole Indonesian – within the ASNIKOM society. He did this right away (from January until July 2018) as the first ever Kenyan citizen who stepped in to the wilderness of Flores East Manggarai. I am really proud of him as he has such a humble heart – ready to learn and to take in any lectures in life. He is already accepted as a part of the big family of coffee farmers in Flores and he counts himself as well as Floresians. Now he is already back in Kenya and want to use all the skills that he already gathered in Flores to nurture and to help the Kenyans coffee farmers whom he already known.

We hope to be able to host him here in Doebeln as we want to expand our influences outside our region and present our coffee concept to the world. Why not in Kenya? Why not in Africa? He would like to train him here. So this is all his reviews about his experiences in Flores. Yes, to me he is a little brother!

Description of Manggarai Timur

I composed a little poem to give a description of Manggarai Timur and especially Tangkul village where I stayed for five and half months:

In the heart of wilderness,
On top of the mountain,
Sounds of crickets,
And blowing of trees.

Life thrives,Cheers and excitements,
Joy and peace,Lies beyond.
Sounds of laughter,
Children, young, and old
All in unison
Embrace one another.

The love is so pure,
Nature recognizes this,
Giving Tangkul
glamouring sight.
Rain and sunshine
Provides this proof
Trees and plants,Lives together
The little paradise
In the world beyond.

In addition I also found the exact words to put in place to describe the love and humility of people from Manggarai Timur. The following love poem is dedicated to people from Manggarai and especially the seventeen villages I visited:

Twigs of uncertainty
Blossom of pureness
The figure of love
A slender and softer look
This you can see

No room for thinking
All words drift away
The sight so marvelous
Yet no words to describe

They say it is possible
To stare and lack words
To speak but nothing
Words coming from the eyes

Too much to stare
Still afraid to spare
Every area well located
I am afraid to go
Yet legs going
Eyes leading
Mind blowing
This is everywhere

Manggarai Timur is a small region in Flores island. From Jakarta you board a plane to Labuan Bajo, then later take a car to Ruteng, a town East Manggarai. The place is mountaineers which rages from 1000 meters to 1600 metres above the sea level. Therefore, the journey to Manggarai is quite fascinating a lifetime experience up these mountains. Corners,ups and downs will make you feel a little uneasy, but this should make you more relaxed as you figure out the kind of place this is.

Generally you will experience quite a lot of rain from January to April. A lot of rain such that some days you might not be able to get out of the house. From April to August, this a sunny period. September to April you will experience much rain as such

The medium of communication here is Bahasa Indonesia or Bahasa Manggarai. Very few people know and understand English or any other language. Hence, be ready to learn this language if not so have an interpreter. Generally Manggarai people are so welcoming, willing and able to teach anyone their language as you teach them yours. Wonderful people.

“Silakan minum” (please drink), this is the common phrase you will hear now and then as you pass across several villages in Manggarai Timur (east) from fathers and mothers. This is simply an invitation for you to come in and share a cup of coffee with the family. Generally do not expect any sugar from the coffee unless you really cannot drink without. At first one will be tempted to take it with sugar but as you progress on you will get used to. Normally the coffee is referred to as Kopi Pahit Colol generally meaning, bitter coffee from Colol. The coffee is accompanied by pisang goreng (fried bananas), keladi (local arrow roots).

Life in this region is quite simple but people live happy. You will be amazed by humility of these people, one concept about Manggarai people is sharing. Normally people come around and share regardless of the economical situation in these areas.

Nasi (rice) is the staple food here accompanied by sayur(vegetables). In addition, ikan(fish) or telur (eggs) is a condiment for rice. Rice is easily available here. So in the morning the breakfast is coffee and rice. In the afternoon as well as evening be ready to enjoy a plate of rice and its accompaniments.

The main cash crop in Manggarai is coffee only which is grown in the forest. These people value their forest so much. It is so precious since the time in memorial. Therefore as they take care of their coffee they also take care of the trees. Hence as you look in the mountains, you cannot see the coffee trees because they are hidden inside by the big trees. Another interesting and fascinating thing about their coffee is that it grows freely without any chemicals whatsoever.