Kupang, West Timor
"I met the dragon
In a cave by the mountain
Now I bring the evidence
The beast is alive"
Gojira, Where Dragons Dwell
After a long trip hitch-hiking trucks throughout the numerous ferries of the Sonda archipelago (Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa, Flores) - some of them with the unextinguishable help of my Jakarta friends (when will they stop ?) I managed to get the entrance of the park for free (via the director of the park himself whose number Patna gave me ^^) , along with the crossing of the channel to Komodo:
Komodo Dragons (ora, in the local language -almost each of those islands have their particular dialect) are massive, their bite is poisonous, they can swim and survive two weeks without food. Little, they are similar to Monitor lizards (shown in a previous article) and are prey to wild dogs and sea eagles. But as they grow up, they become the unchallenged masters of Rinca and Komodo, the two main islands of the park.
As you can see, the villages near the swamps the monsters like to cool down their blood are circled by protective walls. Goats and chicken, along with children, are not unlikely to be bitten. Fortunately for the children, the Komodo Dragon is mainly a scavenger, and will only bite its prey in hope of tracking it down for up to one month (!!), slowly witnessing its dereliction as the poison affects the animal - most often a deer or a water buffalo (those ones are huge). As the "poison" is actually bacterias at a highly concentrated level, a horse-shoot of antibiotics will save any victim.
But in some occasions, the beast is more aggressive and may kill on sight; this season was mating season, and the fight I witnessed (and recorded for you) is for male dominance.
Dragons can ambush their prey and it's not rare to merely step on one of them as they try to look as much as possible as a steady rock - and believe me, they do. They also inhabit certain caves on the islands, an you quite feel like in a movie while crossing the threshold of a grotto where, among the frenzied flying foxes (cute, enormous bats) lie the scattered remains of a deer.
Despite all that, Ora usually is solitary and calm - even afraid of man, most of the time. Mating wrestling is never pushed to death even if we saw one old male which got its leg broken in a fight - could still eat its content, as corpses don't run ^^. The supreme advantage of being a scavenger... Their eyes have round-shaped pupils (unlike most reptiles) and they have five fingers at each paw. This is why the legend grew that the dragons are originated from the same mother as the indigenous and are therefore brother to them. And indeed some friendships are said to have appeared once in a while. When I got to Rinca, one of the rangers showed me "his friend" on his mobile phone: on the picture, you can see him lying aside a 3-meters long dragon, quietly warming in the sun - I don't remember the name he gave to it. The rangers respect them and do their best to stem and control the flow of tourists. This is encouraging. Even though the number of beasts on the island diminished drastically between 2004 and now. Their lifecycle is fragile: the mother will dig two nests - one of them is systematically fake, to deceive predators - and lay between 30 and 50 eggs inside. Only 5% should survive. The mother will abandon the eggs VERY early; much before they open. And sometimes eat the newborns.
Komodo Dragons can live up to 50 years, it seems.
The Komodo national park is also home to numbers of rare fauna, among which wild horses, sea eagles, and this aggressive crab, which left claw is oversized:
I'm in Kupang, Timor. From there, if no boat of any sort is available to Darwin, which, given the immigration policies of Australia regarding Indonesia, is very likely to happen, I'll make it for Timor Leste, where I should easily find a container ship whatsoever.
As I pack my bag tonight in a dark concrete room, tired of the day - thinking to tomorrow, if I will make it or not to Timor, then Timor Leste, then Australia, then Antarctica...
This remembrance occurs to my mind: lately, everybody have been asking me: "what's your mission ?" And the answer always was, more or less:
"I have no mission. I'm not travelling for peace, environment, or children education. I'm travelling for myself."
But now I realize something. All those "crazy" adventurers, and all the pride our society puts, in its underneaths, in the notion of craziness.
We might have the feeling our lives are boundless, floating somewhere we don't even belong to. Our lives are lightnings so fast, time will barely bear a mark of it. This soup of unleashed, empty, meaningless individualities is crazy. Totally mad. Like in the "Mad World" song, of Gary Jules - the lyrics are all about that.
Then this weird pride of the craze relies in the feeling to be out of this system that pretends to be rational. This is what fools used to be. Wise disguised in fools in courts of kings. They all think I drank the poison from the well but only I know I'm the only one who didn't.
But nowadays, counter-culture reversed the phenomenon. To be "crazy" is the norm. Any asshole who'll get an Ipad thinks it's crazy because it swallowed all the money a none-too crazy job gathered.
The Link. To people, nature, and all that counts. To weave some link. To dig into the meaning of freedom, beneath the sea of lies - beneath the remains.
Poor people know their duties. I'll always remember Mounipal, in Chennai, when I told him about the "lost in translation" feeling we westerners all have more or less. He told me, under the starry sky:
"What you have to do is your duty.
- What is your duty ?
- My duty is to make my parents happy. At all costs.
- And what if this cannot be my duty ?
- Well - find another one. We all know our duties, you know. Sometimes we just runaway"
Even though this is proper to the Indian culture and the particular idea of karma, it tells a lot.
And now I find myself in a place I never thought in the world I would find myself in. By my own means - by my own will power and strength. And I want to say something I actually deeply believe:
My mission is a world without money. Without war. Without social classes. A world where we would cease to tear our Earth apart.
So yes, if it ever makes any sense: I travel for peace, for environment, children education - and all the link in the world we can possibly weave together. Because everyday I ask the blind trust of heaps of people. And they never stop showing me - friendship is everywhere, barely hidden behind the upper-class white plastic fence of indifference. Because I leave absolutely no trace of my passage - eat what people throw away, I could as well not have existed. Because I worked in an orphanage, and gave some english lectures. And above all: because I try to convey this overwhelming love you've all been giving to me. And try to show you're not so different one from another. I try to break prejudice.
What I'm doing right now is not very useful - but at least inoffensive. Not everybody can say that. Everytime food is bought or work is made - this whole world is above exploitation of people and soil. I try to escape that. For a moment.
After that, there is work to do. Everywhere, we can all be useful - this world can actually go better. I want to cry there is hope because (even if I'm reluctant to say it) so much people are still good at heart !
PS: Bad news update - I have a few days overstay on my Indonesian visa, and the odds are good the border to Timor Leste office will charge the hell out of my ass for this. I hope I can get them on Supertramp's side ^^