Aug. 14 Lembata Festivities

When we first arrived in Lembata and met Max, the Dept of Tourism official, he asked me to become the "Official Representatives of the Yachties." I did my best to get out of it, but finally agreed to become the "Cultural Representative" and give a speech (!) at the official welcoming ceremonies. Max was Master of Ceremonies for the evening, and things began around 7 pm. But, I'm getting way ahead of myself. At 2 pm, the Official Welcome to Lembata began, with the Regent and Vice-Regent of the Lembata Province opening up the festivities. Sue and I were both fitted with serongs and ornamental palm headdress, and offered the betel nut with drink? as an introduction and welcome to the village. Being gracious visitors, we both chewed the betel nut and made motions to smoke the tobacco offered, but then the gate was opened for all the yachties, and a parade ensued to the downtown area. The school children and teens were all costumed, and about 300 people in the parade wound around to a large sport field area where native dancing took place. Of course, Sue and I were "required" to participate, so we humbly tried to follow the footsteps in what appeared to be a kind of line dance, and did our best to keep up. The villagers wanted to take lots of pictures with us, so it was quite a scene. We finally returned to the waterfront, and sat for a bit before the evening festivities were to begin. The local Officials made their speeches, and then I got up and spoke four lines of Bahasa Indonesian to welcome the Officials and thank the town on behalf of the yachties. There were loud shouts of appreciation and applause at my attempts, and my very short speech seemed to go quite well; at least everyone else thought so! Traditional dancing performances then took place, and we eventually lined up for a buffet meal of delicious traditional Indonesian food. There were, I estimate, about 125 yachties present, and lots of villagers, so the amount of food prepared was prodigious. During the dinner, more presentations took place, and after dinner, Sue and I were, once again, called forth to dance with the locals. Things finally wound down at 9:30 or so, and we returned to Infini tired, but having had a wonderful experience with these very friendly people. It was a unique opportunity for a cultural exchange, and we felt we had made the most of it. We heartily recommend Lembata as a stop for future Rally participants and other cruisers.

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