I haven’t been to Thailand yet. Some people told me that the nicest people they’ve ever met live in that country. But then, they haven’t seen Indonesia yet. Especially here in Sulawesi everyone is really welcoming and always trying to make you feel special in a way. Let me tell you something about it.

Saturday, we finally went to the funeral ceremony I told you about in my former blogpost. Not something to be cheerful about, you would probably think.

A 86-year old woman, part of a rich noble family, passed away last year. Her body was kept inside the house until the whole family was able to come together. However, this ceremony was only considered a ‘small’ one, to help strengthen the stairway to heaven. The big one will be held in July. At the beginning of the day, the atmosphere was quite intense, but intimate. 2 Buffalos and 2 pigs were slaughtered, sacrificed and shared with other people in the village. Which was, as you might understand, enough for us to witness. Biology class dismissed! The family welcomed us warmly and even wanted to take pictures with us (see featured image). The vibe got better as we could see people being happy and the ceremony closed off with a delicious local lunch and the prayer.

Sunday, we got invited to go rafting with TOSA (Toraja One Stop Adventure), to experience nature-based tourism activities by ourselves. It was not a commercial trip so we got offered a cheaper price. Awesome. Having lots of fun while doing participant observation. The perks of being a student researcher.

Besides working our butts off for our research, we also helped to educate others. Mr. Yulius (Head of the Guide Association) invited us to an English learning activity. It was meant to educate English to local kids, free of charge, while indirectly getting local guides to be active and learn from each other as well (since they don’t have a lot to do in low season now). Pak Yulius sees the potential of educating children to improve their language skills (human resources!), indirectly helping Toraja as a tourism destination in the future. Win-win! The good things of doing international field research and having many in-depth interviews is that you really get to know the destination and its history, the local people and their perspectives on things. Sadly, we are going to leave all the beautiful people behind. We took our memories and we left our footprints. Sampai jumpa Toraja!

Teaching English in Toraja

Teaching English in Toraja

Written by: Nike van der Velde