Here we met up with the other 7 rally participants. They came in en masse for the most part and rafted up in front of town. We had chosen to anchor out a bit as the town sight was not deep enough for more than one boat to swing. It seemed like a good group and soon we were in the thick of things with happy hours on deck and tours and events on land. Our first duty was to attend the opening ceremonies and listen to a couple hours worth of speeches before the dancing would begin.
Jailolo was celebrating the spices and the history of the spice trade in these amazing islands. The festival lasted a week and we were carted around the island to see the nutmegs being harvested, separated and dried. I did not know this before, but the nutmeg is a seed in the middle of a fruit that looks like a peach. A red “cloth” covers the seed and that is mace. We would also see cinnamon, cacao and coconuts.
We even met the Sultan of Jailolo who, unlike the Sultan of Brunei, is titled, but not the least bit wealthy and lives humbly in a cement house.
We were invited to a cultural fair in Akediri, a small community that pulled out all the stops for us. We were met at the gate by the town dignitaries and then led around to different stages where the locals were demonstrating their crafts such as making brooms, thatch and ropes and lots of music and dancing and food. They were obviously very proud to show us their customs.
Right after that we were driven to Gamtala for a gala dinner with the regent of Jailolo. No one can do anything until the regent arrives and is seated so dinner was on hold for an hour and we had to stay in the cramped little bus while waiting for his regentness. The dinner was held in the traditional meeting hall, a rumah adat.
Many of the small villages along the road have beautiful flower gardens.
Jailolo celebrates their fishing livelihood with a 6 kilometer long barbeque of fish and we were invited to help ourselves to fish, cassava and veggies as much as we’d like. And through all the choking smoke from the fires, our pictures were taken by locals with cellphones about 100 times each. They really enjoyed getting their picture taken but really got excited about taking our picture with them.
The closing ceremonies were pretty high on the wow scale with the whole community taking part in the story of the spice islands done in a musical extravaganza.
From a distance the costumes seemed elaborate and one had to wonder how this community could get the funds together for the sets but on closer look you can see the cleverness of the construction from simple materials. Here the “mace” kids are wearing helmets made from painted soccer balls.
This charming little lady was not the least bit shy and sat on my lap for the ceremonies. All in all a wonderful week in Jailolo with some very lovely people.
Cruiser notes: Anchorage at Jailolo (01 03.38 3N; 127 28 36.3E) There's not much for getting stocked up here in Jailolo. Best to do that in Ternate. There is a ferry that goes back to Ternate several times a day.
One bank with an ATM a bit of a walk up the hill or ask a taxi to take you up there.