The Journey of Coffee and Dance
In an earlier post, I shared my first impression of Flores Island and some of the first faces I met while visiting the villages – now I invited you to follow along with this post for a more insightful look into the details about two aspects of the culture Manggarai culture that captured my attention and heart.
The Journey of Coffee in Warebo Village
If you asked me right now, pick between coffee or tea. My immediate answer would probably be coffee! Then I would quickly say tea because I love tea too, then I would say coffee again because I would be thinking about my first cup of coffee in the morning.
Needless to say, it’s a tough question. But as I’m writing this blog post, I’m sipping on my morning coffee and reflecting on my coffee journey in Warebo Village.
The honest truth is that I know very little about the process of coffee so spending time with the local people opened up my eyes to the whole “journey” of coffee – from the bean to the cup.
The World’s Most Rare Coffee
Titled the World’s Most Rare or Most Expensive, is the coffee collected from the droppings of a civet (or a wildcat-like animal).
The civet will gather food and often eat the ripe coffee cherries and because it cannot be digested by the animal, the beans are left with the rest of their droppings. After having travelled through the digestive tract, it is prized as being wild and hard to collect.
I’ve heard of some of the cruel ways that civets are treated since this type of coffee has become quite well-known around the world. I could imagine it’s quite difficult to tell whether the civet was wild or caged, and I am certainly opposed to visiting caged civets as an “experience”. What I had the chance to see the civet’s droppings were was truly by luck and perhaps the way this special coffee should remain.
In the next phase, the beans are washed, dried and pounded by hand with a large stick to remove the skin of the beans. The final step is that the beans are roasted and ready to drink.
Coffee beans grow in abundance and the harvested coffee beans are an important part of the peoples’ livelihood. The proceeds from the sale of coffee are used to trade and buy other basic staples such as rice and sugar. And unique Warebo “branded” coffee remains sold exclusively only to visitors who visit Warebo village.
What I learned about the coffee culture is that it’s a fabric of their hospitality. When a guest is welcomed into a home, coffee is served on the table right away.
The way the coffee is served is with the grided coffee on the bottom of the cup with hot water poured over top. The coffee grinds float to the bottom of the cup, while small grinds float inside and cling to the side of the cup. Usually, there is a big cup of sugar on the side and not once was the coffee served with milk.
When I first started to drink coffee in this way, I was making faces with each sip because it was incredibly strong and bitter but then suddenly it grew on me – I was smiling and sipping each cup with an appreciation for the bitterness and unique flavour.
Caci: Traditional Manggarai Dance
I have always been fascinated by dance as a form of art and an integral piece of most culture. Dance, like other forms of art, is an expression and a story through body movement.
When I found out that Jean-Luc, our West-Central African blogger, challenged us to capture the local dance I was excited. Unfortunately, the Caci dance is a sacred performance and only performed twice a year. Since it is an integral part of the Manggaraian cultural identity the true Caci dance is performed during ceremonies. Our host was able to put on the costume and show me several of the dance moves with the props.
The Caci dance uses many props including a shield, a whip and masks. The dance is very symbolic and each movement represents elements of their history, culture, and even predicting the future. Since the “fight” or dance is performed in by two men, the results of the “fight” could indicate a good or poor upcoming harvest.
Part of supporting ecotourism development in the villages is about allowing the local people to take ownership of their culture and share it in a way that does not degrade or commoditize their culture. What I was able to observe was that INDECON was able to support the local people to share their culture and gain the benefits from tourism. The local people were incredibly welcoming to tourists and eager to share their food, dance and smiles!