November is coming, and I have to go back to lampung again. I have been in Jogja for a month after finishing the first wave survey. The survey it self was conducted in 6 different regions of lampung. And we had to move from one place to another, packed our survey logistics, private properties and wondered what would happen next.
It was still in lampung, but it didn’t mean that we were easy to understand the lampungnese habit. A remote village in deep pesawaran regency had different way of agriculture system with a village in way Bungur, east lampung. So did the culture, norms, ethic and every simple thing in their everyday life.
Our first destination was in Tanjungkerta, Pesawaran regency. Pesawaran was part of South Lampung regency but now it is independent as a new region. You won’t find this village in any map, even periplus map. It was located far behind Pesawaran hill. The people were lampungnese called ‘lampung peminggir’. Houses on stilts made from wood were everywhere. The brown wooden plank in the house was always making a creaking sound every time we moved. So, don’t expecting any solitude evening when all the family gather in the living room listening to the traditional lampung-Malayan melancholy songs. But the greatest thing was they didn’t have any decent rest room. Oh, they did have a well with a water pump machine, but still.. It didn’t look like a rest room at all. So, every morning we had to go to our neighbour just to take a shower or if we were dare enough we will go to the river near the back yard.
Tanjungkerta’s people were farmers and their rice fields depended on the rain falls. So, they had to store the rice grain and used it wisely or sold it if they need cash money. Some of them also had clove, pepper, cacao or coffee plantation. But mostly, they were temporary labourers with cheap payment everyday.
From the deep side of pesawaran we moved to its coastal area. Sidodadi, Padangcermin had coastal ponds, but most of its villager lived in the hilly side near the protected forest. They lived from banana, coconut, cassava, cacao, coffee, and clove as their harvests and the sweetest thing was some of them made brown sugar palm in their yard. So, just imagining, when you were walking through the coffee and cacao plantation, enjoying the virgin fruits hanging on its branches then suddenly you were seduced with the odour of warm melted brownie sugar palm which was still stirred on the hot massive wok. It’s almost like heaven dear….
This village was inhabited with Javanese people, especially central java people like kebumen and some sundanese, one or two lampungnese family, and the coastal area you will find people from BUgis, South Sulawesi who work as fisherman. Some Javanese Buddhists were living in Sidodadi too. They built a humbly simply vihara near the protected forest. It’s so peaceful… (namaste…)
From coastal area we moved to the heart of Way Kanan regency. We travelled almost 6 hours by car. We could drive via ‘jalan lintas sumatra’ passed through tanjung karang-bandarjaya-terbanggibesar-kotabumi-bukit kemuning. But our first experience was we went to Way Kanan via alternative route (somewhere in pringsewu-way ratai) just because the driver didn’t have any legal certificate of the car. Ooh.. Poor us, and he drove as if we were in Need for Speed race.. *sigh*
There were two villages we had to visit. First was Taman asri in baradatu and rantau jaya in Banjit. The first village was honestly not a village at all, because located in ‘jalan lintas Sumatra’ and near to central market. So, it’s like a little town occupied with Javanese as a major and several Sumendo, Komering, Ogan people (those were name of tribes from South Sumatra who migrated to north lampung).
Most of the people worked as merchants, farmers, and labourers. I think this region didn’t have good scenery. And it was so hot there, green trees were rare, all you could see is just houses everywhere. It’s nothing special in this region, no beautiful landscape to be captured with my camera. Though, indeed we’ve met so many good people. Even though we had to accept some rejections, they were too busy or maybe too suspicious to be interviewed as a respondent. But it’s okay; it’s time to test our patience…. By the way, compared with other 5 regions we have to research, Taman Asri had well educated people, under graduate and post graduate.
From Baradatu we moved to the south, to the deep hilly side of way kanan region. Actually it’s not far from Baradatu, but because it’s awfully bumpy road we had to drive and got a dizzy head until we reached the remote village.
However, it’s a lovely village. Fresh air, green tress, cows, rice field, rice mill, vegetable plants, river, wooden bridge, brown wooden houses, red soil, morning dew….
Last august was the time when the abundance of precious coffee and cacao beans were harvested, dried, stored or sold and Clove and pepper plucked in. so, if you were not standing near the street where the motorcycle gas polluting the air, you will smell the rich odour of fresh cacao, coffee, clove and pepper at once. (Not mentioning if you were close to cows or goat’s shits, which is unfortunately everywhere! So watch your step!)
Javanese were everywhere, the names of the places were in Javanese like Dusun Jogja, Sidomulyo, Badransari. And some of the people were very glad to hear that we’re from Yogyakarta. Since, they were transmigrating from Dlingo-Bantul regency to way kanan in 60’s. So almost every household had relativity with each other because for more than 40 years they were living, struggling, surviving together and of course they married to each other and became families. I found a family who just moved to Rantaujaya a week after their house in Dlingo Bantul was destructed by the May 2006 earthquake in Jogja-klaten. They built a humbly house made from wooden planks. And now the father works as a carpenter.
It is said that we were lucky to be in Rantaujaya not in Rantautemiang, the nearest village. They said rantautemiang was inhabited with sumendo people. And it’s not just because their language was difficult but also there was a rumour that everybody should be careful if drinking their water, it might have been poisoned!!!
Honestly, most of the people were rich after the harvest, especially from coffee, cacao and clove. They bought new motorcycle or car, but unfortunately they sold the vehicles during the famine season.
While we were there, some of the farmers were suffer losses because the infestation of mice in their rice field. There’s nothing left. Even for their family rice barn. So they have to be in debt to continue their life.
3 kilometres from rantaujaya was BAnjit Market, this is the place where I bought 2 kilograms of genuine Sumendo grilled coffee bean for my friends who were addicted to coffee as if it was almost like a religion for them (honestly, it’s for me too…) hahaha.. And the taste was great.. I like dark bitter hot coffee and sometimes mixed it with brown sugar to taste the luxurious flavour. And I believe in Sumendo people who processed the coffee beans. They didn’t mixed the coffee with anything, just genuine coffee beans from the trees, dried, fried until certain cooked level, and grinded it. Meanwhile, as far as I know, some of the Javanese who lived in lampung, usually processed the coffee beans differently. Sometimes they added other ingredients like dried corn, ginger, rice, and some might say that they splashed some kerosene while fried the coffee beans in purpose to reach better cooked level. And it’s beyond my imagination….
So, coffee it wasn’t just about the beans but also how it’s processed. And since coffee was everywhere, each family had their own family recipe. And the taste was surprisingly so much different though …
Rantaujaya, for me and my friend considered it as just like our hometown in jogja, the places, the harmony, the hill, and we felt sad while leaving this lovely region. I hope I will have the opportunity to visit the ‘Kampung Bali” near BAnjit. And I can tell some story about bali hindunese people who live there.
Again, we had to move again to the fifth region in Toto Mulyo, Way Bungur, East LAmpung. And trust me.. This village was so vast and it means we had to walk quite far to visit the households. Almost every household had 1250 m yard, so just imagine the distance between each house could broke our legs.. (lebay!!)
While we were there last September it was the peak of dry season. The well was dry. So many people had to find water in their neighbour’s well. And it was in fasting month. So, just enjoy it! (We decided not to wash our dirty clothes)
It was so hot, dry and so far to walk. The respondents were easy to meet because during the dry season they weren’t in the farms as often as in wet season. Then suddenly, in the 3rd day we were there, the rain was coming down to the dusty earth. It was so beautiful.. The odour of wet soil was in the air. Leafs, trees, roofs, roads and every single thing on earth were so fresh. Oh, Dear Lord, how can we replete our thankfulness?
The next day after the first rain, we were told that everybody went to their farms to plant corn and cassava. And the impact was.. There’s nobody at home.. We couldn’t do the interview in the morning and had to wait until the lunch break. The streets was so quiet, the houses were empty, no motorcycle on the streets. We were almost frustrated to get respondent. Hiks, since we were racing with target and time. We just want to go home as soon as possible before the Idul fitri Day and gather with our family. Yet, we were still in the 5th village, and there’s a village left to survey. Hiks…
The great thing is we were living in Pak carik house (the village secretary) who plant organic rice. Every single day, we ate the organic rice and the taste was so rich and no other rice compare. Vegetables were so cheap and available. From Eggplant, spinach, kangkung, mustard greens, legume, green beans until genjer (edible riverine plant), just mention it and Pak carik’s wife will cook it for us.
In the middle of September we left Way BUngur and went to our favourite village, maja in Kalianda. Yup, we’re in Kalianda. Have you ever heard about that place? It was lovely seashore with Bugis and lampung boats or canoes, white sand beach, Blue Ocean, windy day, clear sky, Rajabasa Mountain with cacao plantation on its slopes. We live in Pak Jaro house. In Kalianda the village chief called Jaro. And the house just about 5 meter from the seashore! Just imagine, everyday we saw the blue ocean, wave, canoes, fisherman with their casting net and the horizon from the balcony. If we’re lucky enough we would see the sun set to the west and it was so religious for me.. And we have the moon, the full moon, with her golden gleam reflected by the ocean.
In May 2006, about a week before the Jogja earthquake, kalianda was also damaged by the earthquake. Fortunately there’s no tsunami. Since then, every 9 am, 3 pm and 9 pm each village had to report the situation like the wind, the wave, and all about the weather to anticipate the unpredictable condition and to organize the evacuation if there’s something happen in kalianda. Krakatau just few hours sailing by boat, it means if the gigantic mountain explodes it would damage the kalianda seashore. But a ship’s captain told me that the kalianda seashore was covered and protected with sebuku and sebesi islands from the Krakatau. And he just believes if something happen with the sunda plaque, those two islands will decrease the impact to kalianda. Amen…
The village was small and nice. The people were consisted of lampung pesisir people, bugis, and few Javanese. They were fisherman, cacao farmer, or fish merchant. Mmhh… the sea wind is relaxing, but sometime you’ll sniff the dried fish smell in the air… and it’s tortured me.
Would you believe that maja, kalianda is such a sacred region? The village staffs told us that the house and the big trees in front of it, the Batu Kapal beach, the Way Maja Bridge and some other places in Maja were haunted and spooky. Even the sea was also haunted with white crocodile and Nyai Roro Kidul Myth. Hohohoho…
Well. In 22nd of September our duty in kalianda was accomplished. It was so sad but glad at once. We had to leave the blue sea and the rose-apple fruits which were everywhere, but we were going home, crossing the sunda strait by ferry, taking a rest in Jakarta and on the train bound for our beloved Jogja.
Sometimes, during our survey, we’re just so bored and tired. Finishing our job as good as we could, dealing with new person and new personality everyday, to behave, to taste the different kind of cooking that not always suit for us, to adapt with the bloody hot sun in Lampung. And so on. And it’s truly a journey for us. Since we’re nomad, move from one place to another place. We’re packing our properties, organize it in the bag and live as simple as we could. I still use my 80 litre DODY carrier bag which I used to climb mountains. It’s 10 years old blue carrier, yet it’s still strong and full of memories even though some might say that the design was out of date. Hehehe, no, for me it’s not out of date.. Its classic!!!
Fiuhh.. So many things to write but I just couldn’t remember, sometimes we miss our family, our hometown, our ordinary life without such a rush. Sometimes, we just so sad and sometimes we just so glad. And all we have is this moment. That’s the deepest thing I’ve learned during my journey. We’re in a rush but we have to enjoy the moment and move on…