Flores, one of the large islands in the Lesser Sunda group, is just one and half hours east of Bali by Merpati’s regular flight. A spectacular ridge of smoking volcanoes runs right down the middle, and there are heavy tropical forests in the interior and eastern parts.
The eastern point of Flores was slighted by a Portuguese trader from Malaka 400 years ago who named in the cape of flowers. There are few flowers to be seen on land, but the underwater sea gardens, a mass of colorful coral and anemone blooms, are in such abundant profusion as to make the waters a divers paradise. There was once a species of elephant of Flores, and until today ivory tusk are an important part of dowry payment.
The original strongly animist culture is now overland by a thick veneer of Christianity which was introduced first by the Portuguese trading fleets and spread later by Dutch missionaries. Flores currently has the largest Roman Catholic community in Indonesia.
Churches are dotted all over the country side, and the mission plays a strong role in the community’s economy.
Music is an important part of life in Flores, and an integral part of every festive occasion. Song are rendered in complicated 4 – part harmony with lilting melodies and lively rhythm. Percussion instruments are most common; slit bamboo drums, small gong, simple xylophones and drums made out of coconut tree. There are also flutes and other bamboo instruments, and a primitive one – stringed lute which is played with a bow. War dances and fertility rites are still practiced, and the women perform graceful “ round dances with simple”, repetitive steps that increase in tempo as the night goes on. The Ikat’s weavings of Flores incorporate intricate weft designs, each clan having its own special motif. Three crater lakes lie just to the east of Ende, starkly beautiful in the contrasting colors of the waters. Fifty year ago one lake was blue-green, one dark green and the other red. Over the year the colors are constantly changing as the minerals discharged by the semi-active craters effect the waters. The area surrounding this spectacular crater scenery is known as the KELIMUTU reserve, after the towering peak of Kelimutu which dominates the view. Under water diving around the coast is exceptionally good, and numerous rare of fish and coral have been sighted in the luxurious coral sea-gardens off the shores of Flores. There are numerous interesting traditional villages to visit and watch the women at their traditional pastime, dyeing and weaving lengths of cloth-on simple hand looms.