It is 5am, we pack our bags and get ready for a long car ride to Bara Beach in the South of Sulawesi. Six hours the willride take, maybe more depending on traffic. After a night without electricity, water or toilet I am eager to shower and change my clothes. At Bara Beach a luxurious dreamlike bungalow awaits us, white sand, palm trees and no worries. It makes me crazily happy to just think about it. But before entering the no-worries holiday, we have one more stop on our route: The Ammatoa. I have read about the Ammatoa tribe before, a traditional village in which everybody wears black and walks without shoes. I am curious what it will be like.
On the way up to the small village we meet a young man, a local school teacher who takes us with him around the village. We take off our shoes and start walking. It is a small pathway scattered with small stones and patches of red soil. My feet hurt with every step I take. It is going up and down. The trees around us are inhabited by baby monkeys and on a small river, black chickens take a bath. Horses walk by us carrying water containers, rice bags or wood. I feel like in another world. Electricity or motorcycles do not exist over here. The men of the village are on their way to the community house for a meeting. The atmosphere is relaxed. It seems too special to be true, like in a back-in-time themepark.
We are allowed to enter one of the houses. All houses in the village are built the same way. Via a long small stair case we climb into the house. We enter the main room, a woman is sitting on the floor with one of her children. Another girl is lying on some rice bags. In the corner there is a campfire. It is dark in here and there is no furniture. In the back of the house, a little bit hidden, there is a blanket on the floor. Ten people are living in this house our guide tells us. I try to imagine living over here, however, all I can think of is that I might get pretty bored after a while. Life over here goes at a different pace, values are spiritual and the community of utmost importance. And most of all, there is no stress around. Something I just can’t imagine. The culture shock is real.
Going back to the car I think about differences between the traditional village and the modern world. At first sight they seem very different and thus they are able to coexist.
Traditional villages are often seen as journey to the past by tourists, an “un-developed” world. But is un-developed even the right term to use to describe places like these? Development is created by the need of efficiency and innovation. But what to strive for if you already everything you need: happiness.
Written by: Tamina