Flores is so unlike Java. There is one main road cutting through the entire island. There are hardly any cars on this winding road, barely any motorcycles and only a few tiny villages scattered in between long periods of time. The landscape is gorgeous and untamed, changing in flora as you climb up into the mountains and then get closer to the sea. There were many instances in which the landscape was so rich and exotic, I half expected to spot a pterodactyl or brontosaurus as if we had been cruising through a scene from Jurassic Park.
About 8 days into our trip—on the day after Christmas—we set out on lengthy journey to the West part of Flores from a small fishing village named Riung on the northeast side of the island. This involved catching a bus at 6 am, which rolled through the town lazily picking up passengers. The other 5 volunteers and I were picked up first, so we were able to sit comfortably inside the bus, chatting as we made our way through the scenic Flores landscape. Sadly, I didn’t take a picture of the distinctive Flores buses with their steel rooftops packed with luggage, crowds of people and the occasional goat or two.
This bus ride was only the first leg of our 14-hour journey on the road, plus another hour or so for breaks and meals. Upon reaching the bus’s last stop, we transferred to a bright yellow travel van, which blasted loud techno music for the next 5 hours. Still, most people were in high spirits, laughing and snacking, some even lucky enough to be able to sleep.
In our final transportation change, we took a private car in which we squeezed in 8 individuals and our entire luggage. Not an easy task. Yet upon various trial combinations, we found the best seating arrangement and we spent the next five hours teaching our new Canadian travel buddies a word game called “Contact,” which we played all the way to Labuan Bajo.
* for more logistical details about traveling to Flores check out this blog post.