Rantepao is a town in the middle of Sulawesi. It’s hard to get here; the interior roads in Sulawesi are so bad that it takes three days by bus from one end to the other. There aren’t a lot of tourists here and the town doesn’t have a lot of tourist facilities, besides a number of simple hotels. Although Rantepao isn’t very interesting, the countryside is: lots of green hills, bamboo forests, huge terraced rice fields, women in conical hats threshing rice, and water buffalos plowing.
Today was all about dead people: tradition demands that when someone dies, the body is embalmed and kept for years at home. Then it’s buried in an elaborate ceremony – which we missed but will see tomorrow. We did see a cave where the sarcophagi are stored, until they rot away and the bones tumble out, at which point the skulls are tastefully arrangend in niches or piled on flat stones. Lots of skulls. And they put up effigies in a bizarre rock wall into which balconies were hewn. To top it off, in past centuries babies often died young, due to dysenteria and other diseases, and they cut a hole into a tree, put the body in, and closed off the hole. The idea was that the tree grows and carries the baby up. None of these traditions are still followed except the embalming and ceremony bits; the rest sounds a little unhygienic.
I wish Google would hire someone with software experience so I could add a picture. I can’t post to Google+ either because every way to post there has some fatal bug.